“It was shocking,â€ 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. Â 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,â€ 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 andÂ two corporate events to date.Â Â They’ve also appeared on the luxe-golf travel radarÂ 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,â€ 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.â€
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