3rd Place: 5K PARK Fest

Passion for community gives 5K PARK Fest a winning start

 

ndahlberg@miamiherald.com

The terrorist attack in Boston could have been a sign to Marlene Quincoces to stop in her tracks. After all, the business she and her partner are launching aims to create massive 5K running events for charities, first in South Florida and then all around the country.

Instead it fired her up. “In the wake of this tragedy, the importance of our event’s mission has become ever more clear and important to us,” she said.

Quincoces, better known as MarlyQ, and Humberto Casanova entered a business plan for 5K PARK Fest that won third place in the Business Plan Challenge FIU Track. 5K PARK Fest is a community event and fundraising platform that promotes kindness, civic engagement and a healthy, active lifestyle. It offers nonprofit organizations a professionally produced large-scale event that many could not produce on their own and all the tools the nonprofit will need to promote the event.

Quincoces and Casanova had been running the 5K PARK Fest for two years as an outgrowth of their own nonprofit called PARK (Perform Acts of Random Kindness) Project. Money raised for the two past events, held the weekend of 9/11, went to honoring servicemen and women. But this year they had a Eureka moment: Why not open it up to anyone who wants to run for any cause they would like? Their tagline — “Run. Be. Cause.” — was born.

Their for-profit company helps nonprofits without the time or expertise to plan a large-scale 5K. With this model, 5K PARK Fest handles all the production so the nonprofits can focus on their core missions. Another benefit: the for-profit company absorbs the overhead costs.

While 5K PARK produces the 5K event, which will include a family-friendly festival, the charitable entities help market the race. Each nonprofit gets an individual link for ticket sales, and for each $40 ticket sold, $10 goes to the participant’s charity or cause of choice.

In its business plan, 5K PARK Fest projects profitability in year one and that revenues could reach $800,000 in year five. It sees additional revenue streams in sponsorships, food vendors, booth sales and promotional items.

A charity, high school, university or other organization could mobilize its base to participate, and 5K PARK Project would help by providing marketing kits as well as producing the event itself. Email marketing, social media, calendar listings, digital billboards and other outlets would be used to expand their reach.

The team has designed other ways to differentiate its product from the hundreds of running events held each year. Instead of medals, the team will give special coins to the winners, their purpose being they should be passed on when someone does an act of random kindness. Each coin, which will have a serial number, will carry the stories of past acts of kindness that can be viewed on the linked Facebook page. The team believes the coins will become hot sellers by themselves, adding another revenue stream. “We expect the coins to spread around the whole country,” Casanova said.

Quincoces and Casanova, who are also partners in life and engaged to be married, co-founded their nonprofit PARK Project.

Quincoces is an award-winning event producer. In 2004 she established the FIU Relay for Life that has just celebrated its ninth year and has raised more than $500,000 for the fight against cancer. She has also planned large events for the American Cancer Society and the City of Doral.

Casanova spent 10 years in the financial services industry as an analyst and stock broker before quitting last year to devote 100 percent to his passions: music and philanthropy. He produces concerts for his rock band Day Music Died, and his production company, PROdeuces, works with Mr. 305 Inc., Pitbull’s record label and others.

“The 5K PARK Fest now has the potential of being the most inspirational 5K event on the planet,” said Quincoces. “We realize this is a big claim, but we also realize the financial impact our event can have for the community and we believe that inspiring kindness will create the change our world desperately needs.”

Read more Business Plan Challenge stories from the Miami Herald

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