“It was shocking,” says the former McGraw-Hill academic sales representative, about the unexpected layoff. The then-Maryland resident—one of the leading educational sales reps in his region—began looking for a new job within his field of expertise. Ten to 12 interviews and several months later, DeLavallade relocated to Orlando, Florida, in hopes the job market there would be more inviting. Although he discovered otherwise, he remained dedicated to his job search until an evening meal at a sushi restaurant in the city made him rethink his decision.
“Your destiny is in your hands,” read the fortune cookie the married father of one cracked open. DeLavallade says the incident sparked a deep conversation with the man upstairs and a sleepless 48-hour stint, which he used to research the golf travel and event planning businesses. In December of 2009, My Golf Concierge LLC, a luxury golf travel and event planning business, was born—launching officially in January 2010.
DeLavallade’s story is part of a larger trend of unplanned entrepreneurship, commonly known as accidental entrepreneurship, springing up in reaction to layoffs and rising unemployment rates.
An average of 340 Americans out of 100,000 created a business each month, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, released last May. This translates into approximately 558,000 new businesses per month, a slight increase from last year’s numbers.
The company’s founder decided to follow his passion for event planning, golf and travel, investing his entire commission check (a total of $65,000 to be exact) into the small business. DeLavallade, his vice president of operations, travel concierge (and intern) make up the staff, excluding the 5 member advisory board. Although they are few in numbers, in less than a year, the first black-owned international golf tour operator has made a mark on the niche industry. The company has coordinated three golf tournaments, 16 leisure trips and two corporate events to date. They’ve also appeared on the luxe-golf travel radar by scoring major deals, including being named the official golf concierge for Citigroup Worldwide, landing a contract with Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico as a property management partner, and holding an event contract with General Motors’ Buick.
“We go above and beyond,” says DeLavallade, whose customized golf experiences run customers anywehre from $500 to $4,000. “You can do dinner reservations or, if you stay in a villa, we can have a caterer come in and do a privately catered dinner, [provide] cigars, have you picked up from the airport, provide your travel and [access to] leisure events—go to an Orlando Magic game or a Miami Heat game. It all depends on where you’re going.”
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