Lightning Small Business Grant gets winners off the ice



TAMPA BAY, Fla .– – In March, we met Sara Fludd and her husband in their gourmet waffle food truck called “Pop Goes the Waffle”. It was only days after the start of a $ 50,000 marketing grant awarded to them by the Tampa Bay Lightning. And it happened just at the right time.

It was a tough year in 2020. “I don’t know if I will be able to rebuild this lost income if we can’t reverse it,” Fludd told us, referring to their outlook for 2021. The “Backing the Bay” grant started in March.

It is aimed at small businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans or LGBTQ people. The Lightning-sponsored program assists with media, marketing and video production. It also provides top notch advertising real estate inside Amalie Arena for Lightning games. “In March alone we saw an increase of over 13% on Facebook and Instagram and we saw our engagement increase by almost a third on social media platforms and what is good is generally that you see a huge peak and it comes back down. but the good thing for us is that it never came down as low as it was, ”said Fludd now 7 months later.

Then came another $ 10,000 national small business grant for Pop Goes the Waffle and personal mentorship with senior executives from Pepsi and Frito Lay. It also allowed Fludd to meet actress Reese Witherspoon. “We had the opportunity to meet her during a webinar which was amazing. She’s so down to earth and so wonderful and gave us some of the best tips for being a small business owner and founder, ”said Fludd.

Around the same time that Fludd’s food truck had its tough times in 2020, so was Darin Bahl. For years, her West Tampa floral design studio called “Tailored Twig” was taking off when the pandemic shut them down almost completely for a year. No events, no weddings. Then he made a plan.

A virtual and personal floral creation session with its clients. This turned the client into a florist on Zoom as Bahl taught them his trade. “The idea was to hand deliver [the floral kit] at their doorstep, then have them connect virtually and have them go rod by rod with me materializing something beautiful, “Bahl said. Then, in June, his company was selected by the Backing the Bay program.

He says it helped guide Tailored Twig with marketing and improved the value of their video production. Custom ads for Twig could be found inside the Amalie Arena during the Lightning Stanley Cup race. Bahl recalls that one of the best moments was being on the big screen at Amalie Arena and watching the Gay Pride flag hoisted on the rafters inside the arena.

The grant also helped with their local and national marketing. “Now weddings are back in full force and we’re going to have a banner year this year, which is amazing,” says grateful Bahl. This proves that the Lightning is not only interested in training winners on the ice, but also in the community. “You can’t put a price tag on it. It’s amazing and it just opened a lot of doors for us, ”says Fludd.



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