Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship


Stephanie Royal

Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship

Today we sat down with Stephanie Royal, Associate Director at Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, to learn more about their programs for entrepreneurs. A few things you should know the Jim Moran Institute looks for before applying to their programs: they support companies that have at least 3 years operating, around 5 employees, and who are interested in growth.

Small Business Executive Program

The SBEP is ideal for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners and presidents of small businesses. Through learning the Business Model Canvas, graduates emerge as stronger leaders, who are ready to capitalize on business opportunities, implement best practice management, and turn challenges into strategic advantage. Up to 25, non-competing, applicants are accepted into the program. Learn more here.

CEO Peer2Peer Groups

The Jim Moran Institute facilitates very structured and strategic groups for local business owners. Exclusive to presidents and owners of established businesses, the CEO Peer2Peer Groups provide an avenue for sharing insights about challenging situations, topical issues and solutions to problems with peers. The very structured and strategic groups consist of like-type, non-competing businesses. New groups are formed year round. Learn more here.

Expert Speaker Series

The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship's Expert Speaker Series provides business owners, nonprofit CEOs and entrepreneurs access to nationally recognized speakers who can share their experiences in operating established businesses and growing successful organizations. These accomplished speakers not only demonstrate genuine passion for entrepreneurship, but also share practical, valuable insight about surviving in today's aggressive business marketplace. Learn more here.

PS27's Leadership Week: Turning Entrepreneurs Into Leaders

Each year in November, teams come together to invest their time in themselves to better their companies. Emotional intelligence, public speaking and teamwork are all elements that go into creating a successful leader. When small businesses begin to tackle big issues, PS27 Ventures, a Jacksonville venture capital firm, works with founders to guide them towards their goals. Entrepreneurs and their teams are invited to apply to PS27’s Leadership Week. Read the full article here.


Black Biz Excellence: Blended Designs brings fashion and empowerment to bookbags


By Demetria Irwin Via. The Giro

School is back in session and any parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt knows that backpacks are just as important as fresh first day of school outfits. That’s where Blended Designs comes into play. For this Black-owned, Florida based company, bookbags aren’t just for carrying homework, they serve as daily reminders of self-worth and Black excellence. The collection of bookbags, pencil cases, lunch bags, and other school accessories are adorned with images of happy Black faces and the words “I can do anything.” From pre-school to HBCUs, Blended Designs empowered fashion is everywhere.

TheGrio spoke with Blended Designs co-founder Casey Kelley about how the company came to be, her entrepreneurial journey and why it’s important so surround Black children with positive images of themselves.

What’s In A Name

Blended Designs was born in 2014. Casey Kelley and her husband Harvey are a Black Brady Bunch of sorts. When they got married, they also joined together Harvey’s five daughters and Casey’s two sons. To save money, they created their own wedding decorations and they ended up selling their creations on Etsy. The name Blended Designs comes from their blended family.

The bookbag production began when Casey’s then eight-year old son Carter came to her with a request. “He wanted a book bag that looked like him, he was very specific, he wanted his face. It’s really because he saw a kid at his school that had red hair and blue eyes and the kid was wearing a backpack that’s a cartoon character with red hair and blue eyes playing with a truck and it looked just like the child,” said Kelley. “And so, I tried to find one. My background is insights and analytics. My job was looking at data and understanding consumers buying behaviors and what decisions they make, but also what’s available. So I used my access to data and found 670 backpacks, and of those, only 14 of them included children of color.” Read the full article here. 

CEO & Founder of Blended Designs, Casey Kelley Discuss Why Their Brand Stands for Self-Awareness


By Thao Vo Via Sheen Magazine

Blended Design backpacks are bigger than just kids on a bag. As a brand, they stand for confidence from within and encourage their consumers to love themselves unapologetically. People buy it so their children and students can be empowered in school. It’s more than just a utility; it’s about self-awareness, and “changing the image to change the narrative.” Tune in to our exclusive interview with the founder and CEO of Blended Designs, Casey Kelley.

Tell us about yourself. What inspired the creation of Blended Designs?

Well, my name is Casey Kelley and I am the CEO and founder of Blended Designs. We first started right after my husband and I got married. We did everything for our wedding, for example, we create the save the dates so that they actually tied into a knot. Everything we did was creative throughout the whole process. People suggested that we go into business and do it for other people. After we married, we opened an Etsy shop. We did things for brides and we were the first to do the “Will you be my bridesmaid” and “Will you be my flower girl” puzzles. It totally exploded! It was really just a side hustle. In 2017, my then eight-year-old son asked me to make him a book bag with his face on it. I did some research and the rest is history!

Why was it so important for you to create a brand that encourages others to love themselves unapologetically?

When Carter first asked for a book bag with his face on it, I really kind of dismissed it. With telling him, I wanted to talk him through it and tell him why it was not a good idea instead of me just saying no. He simply said, “There are no backpacks that look like us.” I started thinking about that and we talked about the images that are out there. There are so many negative images out there so we truly believe that if you change the image, you change the narrative. We did research and found less than 2% of the character backpacks that we found at the time (February/March 2017) included a child of color. That’s such a small number! How are you supposed to think positively of yourself when you don’t see yourself and you don’t see yourself in a positive light?

I remember a conversation I had with my niece years ago. She really had it in her head that in order to do well in life, it meant you had to be white or marry an athlete. That was her perception because that’s all she saw. She didn’t believe that black people could be successful. That was an example that hit home. Here I was making six-figures but she didn’t see that because I had a normal-sized home, not a mansion and I didn’t drive a fancy car.

It’s because we as a community don’t see enough positive images of regular people.

To read the rest of the article click here.

Peer to Peer with Richard Stein


Founders spent the afternoon with Richard Stein, Jr of Wellhouse Company discussing, “The 5 Big Mistakes Small Companies Make with Insurance.” Stein covered as full range of insurance from general to liability to cyber and answered questions about the startups’ insurance coverage.

Health & Business: Mayo, UNF centers boost city’s innovation ecosystem


Via. Jax Daily Record

by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

In the six years since Jim Stallings founded PS27 Ventures, he says Jacksonville’s startup and innovation ecosystem has changed rapidly and expanded. 

He said change will accelerate with two incubators and innovation centers that opened this week. Mayo Clinic opened its Life Sciences Incubator on Aug. 22, and the University of North Florida Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation introduced its inaugural cohort of 14 entrepreneurs this week.

“My first reaction has been this is excellent for the community, because they are very focused and specialized in different missions, in different areas and it complements everything we’re doing as well,” said Stallings, whose PS27 Ventures is affiliated with both programs. 

“It’s almost like 1+1+1=5. Everybody brings something different and they’re bringing something new, and very much needed, for Jacksonville. It’s a very powerful addition,” he said.


Blended Designs Mom-preneur, Casey Kelley, Creates Motivational School Gear for Black Students


By Alysha Conner

Via. National Black Guide

Blended Designs, LLC is the leading Black-owned family business to provide school gear that produces positive images and messages for students in the African-American community. Casey and Harvey Kelley, Blended Designs CEOs, launched their 1954® initiative in 2017 to further promote and advocate for equal treatment and advantages amongst African-American students. Once Casey discovered that only two percent of all backpacks represent people of color, she decided it was necessary to fill the void. 

The Kelley’s chose the name 1954® to commemorate the legendary Brown versus Board of Education Topeka ruling on May 17, 1954. It declared racial segregation of children in public schools as unconstitutional. 1954® is of a collection of uniquely designed backpacks, lunch boxes, and pencil cases. Each item highlights the diverse characteristics of African-Americans to uplift and empower students of color.  Learn more about Blended Designs here.