Justin Heacock Now Setting Up Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at Florida Poly

Justin Heacock

Editor's note: In November, Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review ranked the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business No. 10 among entrepreneurship graduate programs in the United States. The reviewers said the program was the best in the Southeast and named USF as the only university in Florida to make the Top 25. It also was the 10th year in a row the center has been on the list. In recognition of the honor, 10 graduate-entrepreneurs were interviewed and profiled. This is one of them:

With a master's degree from the Muma College of Business' Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida, Justin Heacock didn't land too far from home. In October, he found a dream job developing the entrepreneurial program for Florida Polytechnic University as its entrepreneurship coordinator. There, he will help students develop ideas that will lead to business opportunities.

"The master's program in entrepreneurship in applied technology at USF has not only educated me on the possibilities of getting a PhD," he said, "but it prepared me to apply to the most competitive PhD programs in the nation."

After receiving his graduate degree, Heacock took the job at Florida Poly in nearby Lakeland as its entrepreneurship center coordinator. Florida Poly is the state's newest public university and focuses its curriculum on science and engineering, fields that are perfect for entrepreneurship opportunities.

In his new endeavor, Heacock uses what he learned at USF every day.

The Center for Entrepreneurship recently was ranked No. 10 in the nation for graduate entrepreneurship programs and was deemed the best program in the Southeast by Entrepreneur magazine and The Princeton Review. The center is the only Florida school on the list.

Heacock, 26, has a passion for entrepreneurship and now specializes in building entrepreneurial ecosystems in the university setting. His expertise is in incubation development, organizing business competitions and new program creation. He ran the Student Innovation Incubator at the center in 2015.

"It was the job at the USF Student Innovation Incubator where I really excelled," he said. "I think like an entrepreneur but I have a teaching personality, which as you can imagine, is a rare combination since most entrepreneurs are Type-A personalities.

"USF's master's in entrepreneurship," he said, "has given me the experience and methodology needed to assist over 100 startups across Florida that have gone on to raise $7.5 million in funding.

"My ultimate goal right now is to help over 1,000 startups in my life," Heacock said. "I think if one person can help over 1,000 people build their dreams and those startups in turn affect other people's lives for the better, then that's a pretty good legacy."

And Heacock is building entrepreneurship into the core foundation of Florida's newest public university.

He credited Michael Fountain, the director of the USF center, as being an inspiration for him, as he builds the program at Florida Poly from the ground up, moving students with innovative ideas toward success in the business world.

"Dr. Fountain is one of the strongest mentors I have had at USF," he said, "and I hope to have a similar impact on the world."