April 23, 2021

Titus Center for Franchising Announces First Kobel Challenge Recipient

PBA News

Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Titus Center for Franchising selected 2020 alumnus Cole Sossamon as the inaugural recipient of the Kobel Franchise Challenge. He was awarded $130,000 to buy an in-home care business.

Palm Beach Atlantic is the only university with a fund to loan money to students or graduates who buy franchises, said Titus Center for Franchising Director Dr. John P. Hayes. It is made possible through the generosity of Tampa-area developer Ed Kobel and his wife, Becky. Kobel is president and chief operating officer of DeBartolo Development.

“This is a momentous announcement for the Titus Center and another first in franchise education,” Hayes said. “The Kobel fund makes business ownership possible sooner rather than later for students who meet our lending criteria.”

PBA students and alumni with a concentration in franchising are eligible to apply for up to $300,000. The money is loaned to a corporation formed in the name of the Kobel Challenge and the winner. The challenge holds a 15 percent ownership share in the business for at least five years, after which the franchisee can acquire that share. The Titus Center will retain 5 percent ownership.

Sossamon will buy and operate a Talem Home Care franchise in Nashville, Tennessee, with Aug. 1 targeted for opening. He received the award Wednesday at the Titus Center Advisory Board meeting, which followed the Franchise Executive Symposium on campus Tuesday. Talem Home Care CEO Jake Rankin, of Colorado, was on hand for the award presentation.

Sossamon chose to buy the franchise because of the personal connections he made talking with Rankin and others within the growing company, he said. When shopping for franchises, Sossamon was confident in his research because of his Titus Center for Franchising education, he said. He spoke with three or four other franchisors before deciding on Talem.

Crediting his franchise education, Sossamon said, “I knew more than some of the franchisors I interviewed.”

The Kobel award is intended for those who will operate their business to advance the kingdom of God, Hayes said. Kobel Challenge recipients are trained to put their faith into action in the marketplace and are mentored by Kobel and other business leaders to help them persevere when they face challenges.

Earlier in the day, Kobel spoke to PBA students in a chapel service about the importance of abiding in God. He grew up in an irreligious home and learned how to follow Christ under the mentorship of a group of Christian businessmen, he said. It wasn’t until two decades later that he developed a deeper practice of faith. He was among a small group of evangelical CEOs selected by Bible scholars who set out to teach marketplace leaders how to abide in God. Their training included daily Bible time, journaling, hearing from God and producing results.

That same type of abiding is a required part of the business plan for the Kobel Challenge. Sossamon said he looks forward to being mentored by Kobel and giving a boost to the many people in the Nashville area who are struggling to get by.

“I really want to help people help themselves,” he said.

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