Chessler Holdings Donates $500,000 to Fund HUSTLE, an Entrepreneurship Program
By Keith Morelli
TAMPA (July 1, 2021) -- USF students interested in owning their own business have a chance to participate in a real-world start-up venture using autonomous and robotic food production kiosks and earning $20 per hour -- and potentially some of the company's profits -- thanks to a new $500,000 initiative between Chessler Holdings and the University of South Florida Center for Entrepreneurship.
Chessler Holdings, a Sarasota-based family investment firm that owns 20 portfolio companies in industries ranging from telematics to entertainment, will work with the center to launch HUSTLE, a college-oriented business competition designed to educate students in entrepreneurship through the real-world experience of operating a real world, start-up venture.
Students will form functional teams of four to five members and compete for a chance to be one of the top two teams. Chessler Holdings will fund $250,000 to the two winning teams to operate a business utilizing one of Chessler Holdings portfolio companies, Automated Retail Technologies (ART).
ART is the first autonomous, oven-baked food vendor, JustBaked, and a robotic frozen yogurt maker, Reis & Irvy’s. Each team will initially use the $250,000 investment to purchase a minimum of 10 ART kiosks and strategically place them in dorms, libraries, classroom buildings, etc., around the USF Tampa campus and the apartment complexes, malls, hotels, etc. in the surrounding community. Students will secure locations, manage, restock and operate these machines to run the business.
HUSTLE participants will work a minimum of 15 hours a week and could earn up to 20 percent of all the profit made from the kiosks during the program. To keep the business operating smoothly, each team made up of four or five students, will meet weekly with mentors and will attend monthly board meetings, reporting their business status to a Chessler Holdings Board of Directors.
The ultimate goal for each of the teams is to run the most profitable business, resulting in a $75,000 cash prize to the winning team and a $25,000 cash prize to the second-place team. The program is open to juniors and seniors from all majors at the Muma College of Business and also graduate students can be part of a team.
“This unique program has several benefits,” said Dirk Libaers, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Muma College of Business. “Students learn how to work on a team, formulate a business plan and execute that plan. They also learn how to make strategic and tactical decisions under the guidance of mentors and they apply what they have learned in their coursework in a real-world setting.
“They also will learn,” Libaers said, “to be accountable to the board of directors and key stakeholders.”
David Chessler, the founder of Chessler Holdings, recognizes the potential of college students who are hungry for success and he wants to give them an opportunity that he never had.
“At Chessler Holdings we are inspired by these young entrepreneurs,” said Chessler. “Their passion and energy is irresistible and we can’t wait to help them thrive. What we hope to achieve with this program is introducing real-life experiences to young entrepreneurs through interactions with the real business world.
“We want to show young students what it’s like to be in the boardroom, what it’s like to operate a real company, and what it’s like to take profits and losses in a real business.”
An announcement of the program will take place in mid-September. By Oct. 15, 10 teams will present their pitches to a board of judges. The two winning teams will be selected and embark on their business journey.