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Success Story

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Jacksonville Business Club

Seek experts like the SBDC with their business experience and expertise to shorten your learning curve.


How often have you heard of a new small business getting its first paying customer in under one minute of opening? It will be difficult unless you start with your customer in mind. That is exactly why Jerry Gitchel, creator of Jacksonville Business Club, sought advice from Florida SBDC to understand his target market, leading to his first paying member within a minute of launching his new venture. Jerry became a technology trainer the day his boss set a box on his desk and told him, “Here’s your new computer. Learn how to use it – then you can teach me.” Since then, he has been helping people and corporations learn to use and leverage the latest technology.

After attending a young professional networking event, Jerry realized there was a tremendous opportunity in Jacksonville for a new and different membership organization that was inclusive for all ages, industries, and locations. With 13 years of experience running his own technology consulting firm, Jerry envisioned a business membership organization that not only was based on in-person meetings but incorporated an online community feature. This is when the idea of Jacksonville Business Club started to form.

Looking to turn his idea into a business model, Jerry sought the expertise of Florida SBDC consultant Kaitlyn Saavedra. Together, Jerry and Kaitlyn worked on identifying Jacksonville Business Club’s ideal member demographics, conducted market research, and developed a business startup strategy. They focused on member choices when it came to time and cost — allowing members and guests to attend in-person or live online as well as affordable monthly membership dues. Jerry also envisioned having an online library of quick, five-minute videos created by members for members on business lessons learned, as well as on-demand recordings of their events.

Using this research and his own expertise, he crafted the technical structure for Jacksonville Business Club with a website, membership platform, and video hosting platform. He launched Jacksonville Business Club’s website at noon on Friday, September 7th, and welcomed his first paying member at 12:01 pm.

Since opening, Jacksonville Business Club has successfully delivered a series of learning and networking meetings, called Main Events, along with workshops focused on personal development. Continuing to work with Florida SBDC, Jerry is refining Jacksonville Business Club’s marketing plan and strategy with a goal to celebrate its 100th member in early 2019 with a flash-mob ice cream social.

Jerry says his favorite part of starting this organization is being of service to Jacksonville Business Club members and community leaders. For other entrepreneurs looking to start their own business (or their next business), Jerry gives the advice to start with the customer in mind.

“Figure out what they need. Then and only then develop products or services to meet their need. Avoid the mistake of thinking all you need is a cool idea. Plan for growth by building a platform, adopting practices and defining processes from the start while you are small. “

Jacksonville Business ClubJerry Gitchel

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