With his product on Publix shelves and a UCF business diploma in hand, O’Dang Hummus founder Jesse Wolfe finished 2015 with two feats in his wake.
After building his company from scratch with the help of UCF resources such as the Blackstone Launchpad, Wolfe’s fall graduation signaled the next step for his career and company.
O’Dang Hummus is starting the year with a crucial business loan and six months of complimentary office space courtesy of a business partnership with the CFE Federal Credit Union, a UCF community partner.
“They loved our story and everything we stood for,” Wolfe said. “They were even at our watch party the night we aired on Shark Tank. It’s a really incredible opportunity for another local resource here in Orlando to team up with an Orlando-made business.”
Wolfe, who was offered a $50,000 deal on ABC’s Shark Tank late last year, said the negotiation with sharks Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec has not yet been finalized. In the meantime, CFE’s business loan made it possible for the company to get its product on Publix shelves.
“As a local community partner, CFE puts a lot of resources into really developing the local community that we serve and that’s what it’s all about,” said Robert Fisher, director of CFE’s Business Services Department, who worked with Wolfe to seal the partnership.
“It’s always fun to watch young entrepreneurs begin something that they believe in and love, and put their idea into action,” he said.
In the midst of negotiating the CFE business loan, a conversation between Wolfe and CEO Joseph Melbourne sparked a generous offer.
“One of the hardest things about starting up a business is infrastructure, having a place to actually conduct that business and having some IT support, and that was something that Joe recognized,” said Suzanne Dusch, CFE’s vice president of marketing.
Along with the loan, the CFE team offered Wolfe a 1,800-square-foot office space in the CFE building located in Lake Mary, where O’Dang Hummus is currently headquartered, running daily operations, logistics and marketing.
“We love it because we get free hummus, so it’s a win-win for everybody,” Dusch said. “But we love seeing him here because he brings a lot of energy, and it’s really been exciting.”
Wolfe said that the new office allows him and his staff to run a business that feels more legitimate, but with two other manufacturing facilities already based out of Florida, an appearance on Shark Tank and real estate on more than 400 Publix store shelves, O’Dang Hummus has already made its claim to legitimacy.
“It’s been really fun watching him grow and I’m just glad we were actually able to assist him in moving forward with the goals he has for himself and his company,” Fisher said.
The recently established business partnership is additionally serving as an unofficial pilot program aimed to further develop the relationship between CFE Federal Credit Union and UCF’s student entrepreneurs. The program is in the early stages of development and is not a concrete program at this point.
“We want to give back to the UCF community by creating a program in which student starters could use the LaunchPad’s resources and follow their guidelines, and once they get to a certain point they can apply for a CFE loan to continue to grow their business,” Wolfe said.
With such a relationship, CFE would serve as the vehicle to propel student entrepreneurs forward once they are ready to take the next step, Fisher said.
“We’re always looking to expand our connections and working with local businesses, the community partners such as UCF,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work hard to expand those relationships where possible.”
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.