Jason Schuck was not unfamiliar with the Florida SBDC at UWF when he went to them for assistance for his participation in the first-ever Pensacola Business Challenge. After all, his wife had utilized the services of the FSBDC to launch and grow her own businesses. Schuck had an idea for a tour and bike rental store in downtown Pensacola. As a former middle school teacher, one of Schuck’s favorite things to do was take his students on field trips so opening a business that offered “field trips” all day would be a dream come true.
Though he didn’t win the competition, Schuck learned from his experience and decided to move forward with his idea anyways. It took five months, but thanks to the business plan assistance he received from the FSBDC at UWF he found the right lender and received a loan. Schuck’s dream came true in early 2012 when he opened Emerald Coast Tours, now located at 5 West Main St next to Al Fresco.
Like most start-ups, Emerald Coast Tours experienced the challenge of affordable marketing. Not to be dismayed, Schuck immediately launched a Facebook and Twitter marketing campaign and received a lot of local press. He has been featured at least twice on the local TV evening news and among many publications touting this new mode of transportation. He has also been proactive in his connections and keeping open communication with the City of Pensacola.
Schuck says he’s the only Segway operator between New Orleans and Clearwater, FL. With no close competition, he has gotten bookings from people specifically coming to Pensacola for Segway tours from as far away as Georgia and Tennessee.
"If anyone asks me how I did it, I would tell them to make the people who work at the SBDC your friends,” he added. “Use the resources available. You do not have to do it alone. There are people who know how to run small businesses and they are willing to share their secrets. Take advantage of it. Do not be shy about asking for help. If you don't know something, anything, ask. Attend the workshops offered."
- Jason Schuck, Owner - Emerald Coast Tours