AlumKnights

The Shell Bobber, a fishing bobber made from used a shotgun shell, is the first product from the alumni-driven Fishing Ammo brand.

When Swimming with Sharks, Bring Your Ammo

Alumnus takes on reality show entrepreneurs with bang-up product

Jeff Stafford (right) and partner Dusty Holloway have developed the Shell Bobber (above), a new product that combines their passions for hunting and fishing.

In April, Jeff Stafford, ’04, and his business partner Dusty Holloway took on the sharks on the business reality show “Shark Tank” and persuaded billionaire investor Mark Cuban to purchase a 33 percent stake in their Oviedo-based company, Fishing Ammo, for $80,000. Stafford and Holloway pitched their signature product, the Shell Bobber, a fishing bobber made from a shotgun shell. The product combines two of the world’s most popular outdoor sports — hunting and fishing.

Stafford, a software salesman, and Holloway, a licensed surveyor, were duck hunting when Stafford saw an empty shotgun shell floating in the water and came up with the idea for the Shell Bobber. Holloway, an engineering major from the University of Florida, crafted a prototype, and Stafford, who studied marketing and international business, began selling the product locally in 2012. “He made about 100 of them, and the first place I sold them, the lady loved it,” Stafford says. “I was sending Dusty photos of the sales receipts saying, ‘I think we are on to something here.’”

When “Shark Tank” held a casting call in Orlando, Stafford joined the throngs of entrepreneurs eager for a spot on the show. “I got there late,” he says. “The line was wrapped around the hotel, and I thought we should leave because I was supposed to work that day.”

Stafford and Holloway asked the investors on “Shark Tank” for money, in part, to help move the business out of Stafford’s garage. They were busy moving into their new 3,000-square-foot facility when Pegasus caught up with the longtime friends to talk about what it’s like to be reality show stars and to find out what’s next for the two entrepreneurs.

Fishing Ammo founders Dusty Holloway and Jeff Stafford won an $80,000 investment on the ABC TV show “Shark Tank.”

Pegasus Magazine: Are you both UCF grads?
Jeff Stafford: No, just me. He’s a Gator.
Dusty Holloway: I actually went to UCF for a semester.
JS: Did you? You’re in, man. (laughs)

PM: I’ve heard you guys have been friends for a long time. When did you first meet?
JS: We met on our school bus, going to Jackson Heights Middle School. I was the candy salesman, and he was one of my customers.
DH: He was the kid in sixth grade who made more than $100 a week by selling Airheads candy on the bus.

PM: What was it like being on “Shark Tank”?
DH: It was nerve-wracking. They don’t give you much time when you are waiting to be called in.
JS: They touched up our makeup and gave us water, and suddenly we heard: 5-4-3-2-1. The doors opened, and we took our places. There are 19 cameras, there are lights everywhere, and there are five billionaires sitting right in front of you. They had a sound check and made sure the camera angles were good while we stood and stared at the billionaires, wondering. It felt like 45 years.

PM: Did you guys do anything special to prepare for the show?
DH: We had this part where Jeff threw me a shell, and I made it into a bobber and tossed it back to him. We practiced in the hotel for hours.

PM: What’s happened since Mark Cuban agreed to help finance your operation?
JS: At least 100,000 Shell Bobbers have been spoken for. We’re about to launch in a few thousand 7-11 stores across the U.S. that sell bait and tackle. This afternoon, I have a conference call with 12 different sales agents who will be selling Shell Bobbers to retail chains across the U.S. and Canada. Mark Cuban’s business development manager has these relationships — it’s helped us a lot.

“There are 19 cameras, there are lights everywhere, and there are five billionaires sitting right in front of you.”

PM: Were there any UCF classes that helped you prepare for any of this?
JS: Yes. I took a public speaking class and a professional selling class at UCF. Those were the ones that I paid the most attention to, and I truly think it helped me understand the art and science of selling to people and keeping them engaged.

PM: What does your family think about this?
JS: They are very supportive. It’s tough. I think Mark Cuban said that if [your business] isn’t causing some problems in the family, you aren’t working hard enough. But I think both of us are pretty blessed that they understand. We are still working full-time jobs and making this work during odd hours at night. I’ve got three kids under the age of 6, and I have to have family time. So sleep is usually what gets sacrificed.

PM: What’s next for your company?
JS: Within 10 years, we want the Fishing Ammo logo to be popular in the industry; that’s our goal. It’s not just about creating the Shell Bobbers for us; it’s about creating a brand for people that like to fish and hunt.

Editor’s note: “Shark Tank” producer Clay Newbill, ’82, was inducted into UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication Hall of Fame in September 2013.

Entrepreneurial Energy

Entrepreneurial
Energy

Young alumnus brings wide-eyed enthusiasm to clean energy solutions.

Chris Castro, ’10, grew up on a palm tree farm in Miami. Before heading to college, he took part in a U.S. Department of Agriculture program for farmers’ children to plant and sell their own trees. That early experience helped shape Castro’s future in promoting clean energy practices at UCF and beyond.

“I was lucky enough to work with my hands and grow my own crops,” says Castro, now executive director of the nonprofit IDEAS (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions) For Us. “Being raised in a family business that deals with the environment, I was able to grow up with a distinct appreciation for the natural world.”

During President Bill Clinton’s commencement address at UCF, he singled out IDEAS For Us, noting they were recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change. The presidential shoutout to Castro and the group’s co-founder, Henry “Hank” Harding, ’10, was one in a string of accolades for the nonprofit. The Florida Wildlife Federation recognized the group as Conservation Organization of the Year for its work in encouraging youth to participate in conservation issues and for organizing environmental cleanup projects.

IDEAS For Us started as a small student group at UCF in 2008 and has expanded to 25 chapters that include universities, high schools and community projects in 13 countries. It is accredited as a nongovernmental organization by the United Nations. “We have student groups developing projects that are furthering sustainability at their schools,” says Castro.

“I came to UCF with a bunch of surf buddies. I didn’t really think I was going to get into the environmental movement.”

Those student-led projects include outreach activities, such as a solar-powered charging station at UCF and using solar power to make smoothies at the University of Miami to promote Earth Week.

“I came to UCF with a bunch of surf buddies,” says Castro. “I didn’t really think I was going to get into the environmental movement.” A class with Professor Emerita Penelope Canan spurred him to enter the environmental studies program and begin searching for opportunities to engage in promoting clean energy and sustainability issues. “A group of us came out of that class empowered and impassioned to do something,” says Castro.

“I’m not about protesting,” he says. Instead, as a self-described “social eco-preneur,” Castro contributed to campus sustainability and outreach projects while at UCF and following graduation. His work includes serving as the first U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) campus ambassador in the Southeast, helping draft a grant proposal to Progress Energy (now

Duke Energy) to install 440 solar panels at UCF, and assisting the UCF Department of Sustainability and Environmental Management with LEED certification.

Scott Minos, senior policy and communications specialist for the DOE, hired Castro as an intern and campus ambassador. “He is such a go-getter and has a lot of enthusiasm,” says Minos. “He came into my office one day and asked, ‘Can I have lunch with Bill Clinton tomorrow?’ He ended up attending a conference Clinton put on with a rather small group and met Clinton. I worked here throughout the Clinton administration and never got to meet him.”

Today, Castro is working to establish more IDEAS For Us chapters, but also keeps busy as co-founder of Citizen Energy, which helps make commercial buildings more energy efficient.

“Whether it’s how we use our energy and water resources, how we discard our waste appropriately, what food we decide to eat, and how we treat the surrounding ecology — it all has an incredible impact on our people and planet,” Castro says. “It’s all of us doing a little piece to make the world a better place.”

Long May You Run

Long May You Run

On her first day on campus, Bishop says she felt like a huge fish out of water.
“I looked like somebody’s mom on campus, wearing a sundress. Everybody was in jeans and on their cellphones.
I thought, ‘I am out of my mind.’ I took my cellphone out but had nobody to call. Everybody I knew was at work!”
However, her first class with UCF English instructor Peter Telep made her feel at home, she says. “He started talking right away about how we were all book nerds … from then on, I felt accepted.”

Cindy Bishop

At age 45, life started to change for Cindy Bishop, ’07. She began running road races and enrolled at UCF to study English and creative writing.

“[Running and attending college] were both things that women my age don’t usually attempt, but I was doing them,” she says.

The Merritt Island, Fla., resident recently became one of 26 people from around the world to complete all six World Marathon Majors. “The marathon majors are the biggest races in the world, so you get to run with the fastest people in the world,” she says.

Before reaching middle age, Bishop never considered herself athletic. “[As a child], I was the last one picked for every sport,” she says. “I would take my kids to sports and watch and was the snack mom. They looked like they were having so much fun.“When I say I was a snack mom for my kids, I was eating those snacks too.”

Looking to improve her physical fitness, Bishop began training in 2008 with Douglas Butler, a coach at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy who runs an adult running camp in Melbourne, Fla. She signed up for her first marathon at Walt Disney World in 2009, after several years of running 5-kilometer races. After completing the Disney marathon a minute off her projected time, the Queens, N.Y., native accomplished the New York City Marathon, the largest in the world.

“To be honest, I just like to check things off the list,” she says. “I just wanted to run one marathon.” But that list kept growing, including World Marathon Majors in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and most recently, Tokyo. In addition to running and writing a sports blog, Bishop has been busy working on her creative writing. “I had two short stories published in a literary anthology. Then I had a novel accepted for publication and signed a contract with a small publisher, but they went out of business,” she says. Despite that setback, Bishop has completed a second novel and is now shopping both books to potential publishers.

Meanwhile, she and her husband are accomplishing their goal of bicycling in all 50 states together. So far, they’ve biked in 41 states and co-write a blog about their adventures.

In the fall, she’ll run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. And she’ll run the Boston Marathon again. “Now [running in Boston] is like a political statement,” she says. “We have to show the terrorists that they aren’t going to win.”

Bishop doesn’t plan on slowing down any time soon; during the London Marathon, she gained inspiration from a 101-year-old runner who finished the race.

“We can do a lot more than people tell us we can do,” she says.

Strange View
Strange View
“The London marathon was so much fun because it is the only [race] that encourages people to dress up. They have wild costumes, everything from cartoon characters to people dressed as other types of athletes, like tennis players. Two men were dressed in hats and tuxedos, and when we crossed the London Bridge they pulled out a table and chairs, sat down and toasted each other. London is nuts.”

Living with the Past

Living with the Past

Andrea Zuvich

Alumna Andrea Zuvich guides readers and tourists through royal history.

Andrea Zuvich, ’08, is “The Seventeenth Century Lady.” She has played the music of the Stuart era as a flutist and performed its literature as a Shakespearean actor. She’s researched its history as an author. And as a royal gardens guide at Kensington Palace in London, she helps visitors experience the age firsthand.

The Stuart era became Zuvich’s main research interest after making a list of the things she loved about history, music, philosophy and art.
“I think the 1600s mark a profound change in government and life philosophies,” she says. “From the time of Elizabeth I’s death in 1603 to the reign of William and Mary in the last decade of the 17th century, we see the monarchy shift from almost absolute power to constitutional limited power.”

A graduate of UCF’s history and anthropology programs, Zuvich recently published her first historical fiction novella, titled His Last Mistress, which focuses on the tragic love affair between the Duke of Monmouth and Lady Henrietta Wentworth.

“I began to study her story in depth, though it was difficult to gather much information about her, unlike the duke, whose life is abundantly detailed. I have always loved tragic romances, such as Guinevere and Lancelot, but this was real, and that makes it more touching. Henrietta was an obscure historical figure, and now, more people know about her, Monmouth and his ill-fated rebellion in 1685.”

Zuvich, 27, decided to write historical fiction because while “there are some excellent academic history books out there, the vast majority of people won’t read them. That’s why for me, it is crucial to get the facts as accurate as possible. I’ve found that in writing this type of fiction, there’s no need to make anything up — as I’ve learned with the Duke of Monmouth’s story, life is stranger than fiction.”

Her love for European history started in high school, with encouragement from a history teacher at Rockledge High School in Brevard County. “I then had some brilliant UCF professors who had a great passion for history,” she recalls.

In 2010, she began volunteering for the Historic Royal Palaces and an opportunity arose to lead history tours of the gardens. The Palace was home to William and Mary, Queen Victoria and others, and remains home to royal family members.

“The gardens have changed dramatically under each successive monarch since William and Mary’s time, and what visitors see today is really an amalgamation of garden designs through the intervening time,” she explains. “There have been changes under the Stuarts, the Georgians, the Victorians, the Edwardians, up to our current monarch, Elizabeth II, and we show images of what each stage looked like. Visitors are amazed at how different the gardens were originally — formal, heavily manicured box hedging Baroque parterres.

“It’s tangible history,” she says of the palace. “I feel so comfortable there, and it’s become my favorite place in the world.”

Zuvich will publish her first novel about Stuart era monarchs William and Mary in December. For Zuvich, the late 17th century “has everything — debauchery, warfare, religious tensions, pestilence, art, and economic and social changes — all of which add up to being completely interesting and enlightening.”

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UCF Knights are a dynamic and driven community. These four profiles showcase students and alumni who are excelling at the arts, business, service and environmental activism — both locally and around the world. To recommend an inspiring Knight, go to pegasus.ucf.edu/suggest-a-story.