Forty entrepreneurs from 15 U.S., Colombia and Canada-based companies attended PS27 Ventures’ Leadership Week, learning skills to help them become stronger CEOs of their startup companies.
The four-day conference, which concluded Thursday at the Embassy Suites Jacksonville Baymeadows hotel, provided entrepreneurs with workshops, networking opportunities, a “Shark Tank” competition for $10,000 and a finale presentation with Gary Chartrand, executive chairman of Acosta Inc.
Six of the 15 teams – ATLAS Navigator, Flexfrost, Henry Health, Imprint Genius, Optikal Care Inc. and Orchard – competed for the $10,000 prize. The winner was Flexfrost, which produces high protein, low calorie, low carb and low-fat ice cream. Yang Bai and Craig Thomas represented the company from Columbus, Ohio.
Attendees heard from experts on effective communication, ethical leadership, profitable productivity, team building and general leadership lessons. Daily sessions typically ran from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with breaks for meals and for the entrepreneurs to discuss what they’ve learned with their teams.
Companies apply to receive a scholarship to attend the annual program. This is the sixth year Jacksonville-based PS27 has hosted the event.
“Only when they become great leaders can they build a great company. Leadership is the key,” said PS27 Ventures CEO Jim Stallings.
Shakeia Kegler is the founder and CEO of Fort Lauderdale-based GovLia, a cloud-based platform that simplifies the state and local government procurement processes for small businesses. Kegler said she and her 2-year-old company benefited most from workshops about effective communication methods.
She said that allowing each company to break between sessions to discuss how to implement the techniques was helpful.
“It gives us new tools and techniques to be more effective,” Kegler said. “I love the fact that they really give us time to implement these things right now, and it’s everything about your business specifically.”
Team building was a focus for Wednesday’s session. Razi Syed, founder and CEO of Toronto-based mettleAI, said that aside from being a leader in student organizations in college, he didn’t have much experience leading and building a team. Syed founded his company in February.
Syed’s company created an algorithm that seeks to predict substance abuse and mental health problems in patients before they happen.
He talked about hiring for his team.
“I was looking for technical skills and technical abilities, but I wasn’t necessarily looking at the culture fit and the passion behind why they want to work for mettleAI,” he said.
“PS27 Leadership Week has taught me a lot about how we can assess those things.”