Home Business Studer Community Institute’s VMS: A Path To Growth For Speaks 2 Inspire

Studer Community Institute’s VMS: A Path To Growth For Speaks 2 Inspire

   It takes about two seconds to be impressed by Abraham Sculley. The young entrepreneur is the total package. Smart, engaging, driven, personable…I could go on, but you get the idea.


   As you might expect, he’s quickly found a following and measure of success, but even with all the attributes you need, he’s struggling to grow and reach a new level with his business. That’s why he turned to Studer Community Institute’s Venture Mentoring Service (VMS). The benefits are quickly becoming a difference maker.

   SCI’s VMS is a free program based on the highly acclaimed model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It pairs an entrepreneur with a team of 3-5 mentors for ongoing advice and guidance. Since starting in 2020, SCI’s VMS program has helped 39 local businesses and enjoys an impressive stable of over 40 mentors.

    Sculley is the founder and owner, along with his equally impressive wife Fani, of Speaks 2 Inspire, a consulting agency dedicated to improving the mental health and well-being of young adults. They provide dynamic programs to schools, universities, and youth serving organizations. Abraham’s amazing talent as an inspiring speaker is the engine for their multifaceted programs that deal with issues like suicide prevention, mental health stigma reduction, and building resilience and self-esteem.

   Speaks 2 Inspire was selected among the most recent mentee additions to SCI’s VMS program. Just a few months and two VMS meeting sessions in, the impact is clear. “A lot of the challenges that were real challenges for us, we presented them to our mentors, and they quickly gave us step one, step two, step three. And, those challenges are no longer challenges.”, said Sculley, “So it just goes to show how experience, expertise, and mentorship is critical for growth as a small business owner. We’re super excited to be a part of the program.”

VMS Session for Speaks 2 Inspire

   Their mentor team is brimming with highly successful people from a very impressive array of fields, who are volunteering their time: Julie Sheppard, Executive VP and Chief Legal Counsel at Institute of Human and Machine Cognition, Craig Hrabar, a Business Consultant and Executive Coach with extensive success as a business leader, Patrick Rooney an entrepreneur guru who is Director of Entrepreneurship Development for C0-LAB Pensacola, and Brett Barrow, Market President of Renasant Bank.

   It almost seems inconceivable to have access to free ongoing advice from a group like this, but it’s a routine scenario within SCI’s VMS program. “When you have four or five people taking a step back and looking at your business from four to five different angles, the types of conversations that we’re having, the lessons that we’re learning in only two sessions so far,” marvels Sculley, “every session that we’ve done has been mind blowing in terms of the information that we’re receiving, the opportunities for growth, just thinking differently about our business and the opportunities within our business.”

   As well as regular meetings as a group, Abraham has had separate one-on-one sessions with Hrabar. “I’ve heard from other individuals who come through the mentorship program and are a part of it, that they’ve had similar experiences where their mentors are going above and beyond to connect with them and to learn and to see how we can how they can best support us in our businesses.”

   The mentors are just as enamored with the Sculley’s. Sitting in on these meetings it’s clear they are fully bought in on Abraham and Fani. “You have million-dollar content”, Hrabar exclaimed at their first meeting.

   All of this from a program that is provided for free! VMS is truly making a huge impact for Pensacola’s entrepreneur ecosystem and in turn making our community a better place to live for all.

   You can help us make a difference by supporting the VMS program here.

   This is the fourth in a series of articles for Local Pulse Pensacola on SCI’s VMS program. Look for more in the weeks to come (and you can locate previous articles on the site).

   Steve Nissim is Chief Storyteller for Studer Community Institute, a non-profit 501c(3) organization in the Pensacola, Florida area whose mission is improving the quality of life for all people in the diverse communities we serve. Learn more at www.studeri.org