USF’s Muma College of Business will launch the Frank and Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program
TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2016) – Thanks to a $2.9 million gift from Naples entrepreneurs Frank and Ellen Daveler, the University of South Florida’s Muma College of Business will spearhead a statewide effort aimed at educating the next generation of start-up leaders. The transformational estate and cash gift will establish the Frank & Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program at USF. Its mission will be to help undergraduate students prepare to launch successful and sustaining businesses.
The Davelers, accomplished entrepreneurs in the aerospace, engineering, and scientific instrument manufacturing arenas, said they chose to make the gift for two reasons. First and foremost, the Davelers chose USF because of its nationally recognized entrepreneur programs and history of graduating successful students and entrepreneurs. Next was the Davelers’ desire to help young entrepreneurs at the beginning stages of their careers.
“That’s the critical time,” Daveler said. “We observed over the years that 50 percent of these companies fail, many for a lack of preparation and for not understanding the importance of having the right product and the right people working with you. An educational program that can help students better understand these things could make a big difference for fledgling companies’ survival and success.”
“We are so grateful for the Daveler’s support and that they’ve chosen to partner with USF in fostering a new generation of entrepreneurs,” said Joel Momberg, CEO of The USF Foundation. “This incredible gift will enhance USF’s reputation as an educational leader in entrepreneurship.”
The Frank & Ellen Daveler Entrepreneurship Program will build on that success, focusing first on West Central Florida – namely Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Collier, Hardee, Highlands, and Lee counties. It will provide financial awards and host entrepreneurship competitions, eventually expanding statewide to help fund the education of students at any accredited Florida university.
The Davelers founded an engineering services firm, Associated Industrial Engineers. After that firm was sold, the two jointly founded, led, and invested in a number of engineering, manufacturing, and technology companies. One of their first partners, Charles Close, was the namesake for Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. Later, the Davelers became minority partners in one of Close’s ventures, including one that is now a division of Ametek, Inc., an S&P company.
“Your associates and partners are vitally important!” Frank Daveler said.
He hopes that the program will allow novice entrepreneurs to avoid many rookie mistakes, including a few lessons he learned the hard way. He points out that there are a number of reasons businesses fail – having the wrong product, having the wrong partners, or by not paying attention to the world going on around them.
“I had a number of successful businesses but at one point, I found myself trying to resuscitate a business that was close to failure, primarily due to the economy,” Daveler said.
Moez Limayem, dean of the USF Muma College of Business where the USF Center for Entrepreneurship is housed, said that the Davelers’ vision mirrors USF’s.
“USF is one of the best at teaching its students how to start and grow a new business and this gift will help us prepare future entrepreneurs for the kind of success that the Davelers achieved over their lifetimes,” said Limayem. “This will help us create educational opportunities for nascent entrepreneurs.”
The Frank and Ellen Daveler Program’s online financial award application will open in March and the inaugural Daveler Entrepreneurs – for USF and other Florida universities – will be announced in May.
The University of South Florida is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. USF is a Top 25 research university among public institutions nationwide in total research expenditures, according to the National Science Foundation. Serving over 48,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.
The USF: Unstoppable Campaign is a comprehensive fundraising effort by the University of South Florida System to celebrate the energy, vision, and future of one of the country’s most exciting and engaged universities. Our people and programs, our ideas, our research, and our solutions comprise an ambitious plan to enhance healthcare, science, technology, education, business, the arts, and global partnerships.