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Luncheon Platter

Venture Luncheon: One Entrepreneur’s Amazing Journey

Register Thursday, February 18
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Location: Virginia Historical Society

428 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220


Join us for our February 18 Venture Forum RVA Luncheon to learn about John Fernandez’s amazing entrepreneurial journey with Daystar Desserts. John, cofounder and former CEO of Daystar Desserts, will be interviewed by Dr. Richard Coughlan, Professor at The Robins School of Business, University of Richmond.

John built Daystar Desserts (now Dianne’s Fine Desserts) from business concept, development, growth, and sale. Come, learn his story and be ready to be inspired!

1. What are the origins of the first related business?
2. What was the impetus that moved John into the entrepreneurial space?
3. What were some of John’s greatest challenges? Building the team? Raising funds? Building the infrastructure? Managing operations? Managing growth?
4. How did John maneuver a relationship with the big guys (i.e. Walmart) when approached by them?
5. What principles guide John’s strategic decision making?
6. What would John describe as his “biggest lesson learned” during his journey?
7. Did John have an exit strategy plan in mind as his business grew?
8. How did John manage work and life integration during the heavy growth period of his business?
9. What book or books would John advise those with the entrepreneurial spirit to read prior to taking the plunge into entrepreneurship?
10. What’s next?
11. What is a really funny story from John’s Daystar days?

John Fernandez 

John is a dynamic leader who worked tirelessly to build Daystar Desserts / World’s Best Cheesecake (in addition to three other successful companies) throughout his 12 year career as CEO and Co-Founder. Daystar Desserts (now Dianne’s Fine Desserts) is a manufacturer of upscale desserts and cheesecakes sold in supermarkets across the nation and some of the best establishments around the world. John began to see his dream of Daystar Desserts while studying at the famed Culinary Institute of America and thereafter, in some of the finest restaurants in the country and abroad.

John is a specialties consultant for restaurant menu development and in-store bakers for gourmet retailers. In addition to his business efforts, John has also worked hard in supporting his community. He was named Employer of the Year by Hanover Human Services which was a result of a program where Daystar has employed and trained people with major disabilities whom would normally be overlooked at most other companies. He has most recently won the award for Small Business Person of the Year for the state of Virginia. John is highly involved in his church and various charities where he and his wife lead several outreaches within the community. He has recently taken a leadership role in developing a camp and recreational center for underprivileged children in the greater Richmond area. Through his successes at Daystar and in the culinary world, John has been featured in several print publications and television appearances including: CBS Morning Show, Virginia This Morning, Food Network, NY Times, Distinctions Magazine, Richmond Times Dispatch and QVC.

Richard Coughlan

Richard joined the management faculty in the Robins School of Business in 1998 and has since taught courses on negotiations, decision-making and ethics to audiences ranging from undergraduates to chief executives. In recognition of his contributions in the classroom, he earned the University’s Distinguished Educator Award in 2004. During his time at Richmond, Richard has served as the Robins School’s Senior Associate Dean and Executive Director of The Richmond MBA and Executive Education. He is a trainer, consultant and facilitator for major corporate clients including CarMax, DuPont, The Martin Agency, Genworth Financial, Leo Burnett, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. He has also addressed a variety of audiences in the association sector, including the Virginia Bankers Association, Virginia Association of Realtors, ACEC-Virginia, and the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance.

A graduate of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, Richard earned an MBA and Ph.D. in Judgment and Decision Making at the University of Arizona. Prior to graduate school, he spent nearly five years as a sales manager in the hospitality industry in California, first for Hyatt Hotels and later for The Pebble Beach Resorts. Richard currently serves as President-Elect of the Richmond chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for InnerWill, a non-profit organization focused on enhancing the understanding and practice of values-based leadership. His views on business appear regularly in national media outlets including BusinessWeek, National Public Radio, Fast Company, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. His research, which earned him the Robins School’s Award for Outstanding Scholarly Activity, focuses on loyalty and accountability in organizations.

REGISTRATION: Be sure to register Early!!

Price after 2:00 PM Wednesday, February 17 
Late Registration $50.00 Members and Non Members

Price before 5:00 PM Friday, February 12
Member - Early Registration: $30.00
Non Member - Early Registration: $45.00

Price after 5:00 PM Friday, February 12
Member Late - Registration: $40.00
Non Member - Late Registration: $50.00

Presented by:

  • 7 Hills Advisors
  • LeClairRyan