After Entrepreneurship Program, Julie MacGregor Smashes Glass Ceilings

Julie MacGregor

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:

Julie MacGregor has found a home in the boys' club that had gripped venture-funded companies. Though studies have shown that women-led corporations tend to make bigger profits, less than 3 percent of venture-backed companies are founded by women.

MacGregor not only has established a foothold in the business, she's captured a good stretch of the beach with Global Safety Management, a Tampa safety and technology company that helps businesses provide the mandatory regulatory documents, called safety data sheets, to their customers and employees. Her software is 10 times faster than competing systems at a fraction of the cost because of a patent-pending technology provided through the specialized licensing and delivery model.

Where did MacGregor get the moxie to jump into this shark-infested business?

The Center for Entrepreneurship in the University of South Florida's Muma College of Business played a pivotal role in shaping who MacGregor is.

She already was a successful businesswoman in 2012, but wanted more.

"I could have gone anywhere, Harvard, Yale, anywhere," she said. "I chose USF after a lot of research. I looked at courses and I knew that the USF Center for Entrepreneurship was ranked near the top 10. I chose USF. I met with (center director) Michael Fountain and listened to what he had to say about the program and I felt that was the one for me. I would not be where I am today, and GSM either, without me having gotten my MS in entrepreneurship from USF. No doubt about that. Period.

"I will tell you we have successfully completed two rounds of investment with venture capitalists and USF prepared me for that," she said. "Even though I knew how to run profitable businesses, I didn't know how to navigate this venture-capital world and I was in need of venture partners."

GSM just inked its second deal with its second venture-capital funder, she said, and the success she is experiencing clearly goes back to what she learned at the center, which 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.

MacGregor, 48, founded GSM in 2004 and earned her master's degree in entrepreneurship and applied technologies at USF in 2013. She's also passionate about women's leadership issues in business.

The majority of her 35 employees are women, many of whom have MBAs. MacGregor said that more than a few of her female employees had traded their hefty salaries to raise children, so GSM offers flexibility for those employees to work from home when needed.

Now, she's looking to give back even more.

"I'm very interested," she said, "in becoming more active at USF."