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The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship Hosting Small Business Leadership Conference in Orlando

Published Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, part of the College of Business at Florida State University, is thrilled to host its Small Business Leadership Conference from Wednesday, August 1 to Friday, August 3 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, FL. This year’s conference theme, ‘It’s All About The Customer’ and will reflect the importance of a small business’ relationship with its customers, as well as provide the opportunity to learn innovative techniques, solutions and practices that can help improve all aspects of customer relations.

Disney Imagineer, Researcher and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Florida State University, Mk Haley is this year’s keynote speaker. She has been with The Walt Disney Company since 1994 serving primarily with Walt Disney Imagineering roles across Virtual Reality teams, R&D, Special FX, Show Quality Services, and the Disney Research Labs. Haley has also served Disney Corporate initiatives related to New Technology programs and collaboration tools, as well as with emerging tools and Television.

John Rivers, founder of the popular BBQ restaurant chain 4 Rivers Smokehouse, will be serving as the conference’s closing speaker. Retiring as president of a $1.5-billion-dollar company, John Rivers left a career of twenty years in healthcare to follow a lifelong dream of running a restaurant. In 2009, John opened the first 4 Rivers Smokehouse, which quickly became one of the fastest growing restaurants in the southeast. With thirteen locations in Florida and one in Atlanta, the success and popularity of his 4 Rivers Smokehouse and his second concept, the Southern-inspired Coop, have garnered national recognition. Nation’s Restaurant News, the industry’s lead trade publication, recognized 4 Rivers as one of their top five breakout brands.

The conference will feature a Jim Moran Institute program alumni reception, welcome reception, networking breakfast reception, keynote luncheon, “Hot Mic” session, “Pitch the Editor” competition, food truck networking reception, breakout workshops, and an exhibit hall. Day one will be dedicated to registration check-in and pre-conference functions such as the Jim Moran Institute alumni reception and welcome reception. The alumni reception will provide an opportunity for participants of former Jim Moran Institute programs to hear about the latest news and updates regarding the Jim Moran Institute, as well as connect with fellow alumni from across Florida to share ideas and grow their network. The welcome reception will allow all conference attendees to meet and network with each other upon arrival.

Day two’s featured event will be the “Hot Mic” plenary session. In this Ted Talk style discussion, three speakers will present topics from each area of their expertise. The format is fast paced. Each speaker will have approximately 18 minutes to share impactful content with the audience in an immersive and focused environment. These talks are personal, simple and concise. The aim is to keep the audience more engaged for a shorter period of time in order for them to better retain the ideas and information presented.

Day three will feature the “Pitch The Editor” competition. Five conference participants will be selected to provide a three-minute pitch of their company story to a panel of judges. The judges are looking for stories that involve customers, and the winner of the competition will receive a cash prize and could be featured in an upcoming issue of i4 Business Magazine.

A variety of workshop sessions will be held throughout the conference covering topics such as customer service, customer relations, finance, legal issues, strategic planning, leadership, and marketing. Four-time entrepreneur, best-selling author, editor and producer Ramon Ray will be featured as MC.

The conference will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 1, from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, and from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 3. Early registration is $195 through June 29, $250 after June 29, and $275 on site. To register, visit For more information about the conference or sponsorship opportunities, contact AK Consulting Group at 850-523-4200.


About the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship

The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship cultivates, trains and inspires entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research.


Jim Moran was an automotive pioneer and an entrepreneur at heart, who at the age of seven, sold soda pop at sandlot baseball diamonds in Chicago. With a career that spanned more than six decades, he built an amazing chronicle of achievements in the automobile industry.


His vision for the Jim Moran Institute was to provide opportunities that would help others become more successful business owners. A 1995 contribution from Jim and Jan Moran and JM Family Enterprises established the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the Florida State University College of Business. Since 2011, further enhancements to the Jim Moran Institute and its outreach have been made possible by Jan Moran and The Jim Moran Foundation.


For more information about our programs and locations, visit



Calvin Burrows

(850) 644-1769