Entrepreneurs often have multiple careers and streams of income.
Drayton Florence is no different. His path may have taken an 11-year detour through in the NFL, but the 40-year-old Jacksonville resident always set his sights on owning his own business.
His ventures in veterans consulting and cryotherapy are entities he invested in because of his familiarity with the needs of potential clients.
Florence told the Business Journal his company Vets Success Medical Consulting will open an additional office in Jacksonville in February to accommodate the demand for helping veterans file disability compensation claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
He may be the owner of both Vets Success Medical Consulting as well as cryotherapy and fitness recovery company Blue32, but the former Jacksonville Jaguars standout has made a conscious effort to not be the face of the business.
“Once you help one vet, he tells four more,” Florence said. “It’s a quality service and having sympathy for vets and what they do as well as coming from a military background, I’m able to relate, meet them where they are and get as many referrals as possible.”
Current and former Jaguars players have invested in real estate, private equity and athletic training. Two, current linebacker Myles Jack and former defensive end Reggie Hayward, are even minority owners of the Jacksonville Icemen.
Florence said he dabbles in real estate, but he is more interested in entrepreneurship opportunities through cryptocurrencies and virtual reality.
“Virtual reality will be huge whether you agree with it or not,” Florence said. “Science technology is changing how we order food, the way we drive. Tech is here to help us. We have to figure out a way to tap into those resources.”
The NFL has devised professional development seminars that help its alumni transition from the field. A common refrain among pro football players is that it often takes a former player to know what current players are dealing with when it comes to emerging from a collision sport where physicality is a requirement for success and the life-changing compensation it provides.
One of the people Florence spoke with about cryotherapy was former Jaguars wide receiver Laurent Robinson, who opened a cryotherapy business in Pembroke Pines around the same time Florence was getting Blue32 off the ground in 2017.
Robinson and scores of other NFL alumni live in South Florida. Florence chose to make his post-football career here because the cost of living is cheaper than in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Football is one of the few professions where 27 is old and 30 is deemed ancient. Florence recognized the reality early in his career, listened to elders in the locker room and devised an exit strategy that focused on entrepreneurship.
The plan kicked off in earnest after he retired in 2015. After 11 seasons and more than 150 NFL games, he moved on.
So much of Florence’s work ethic and commitment to providing solutions for the military comes from being an Army brat. His father, Drayton, is a disabled veteran after a 20-year Army career. The elder Florence is a silent partner in both ventures and someone who keeps the former football player grounded.
“I think it’s a win-win. We have a lot of veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injury and PTSD,” Florence said. “It’s part of our business model to give back.”
Some veterans services organizations estimate an average of 22 veterans die from suicide on a daily basis. A report released by the VA in September found an average of 17.2 veterans died from suicide in 2019, the most recent year information was available. The former number is why the 22nd day of each month Blue32 provides a complimentary 60-minute session in a hyperbaric chamber for veterans and their spouses.
“People aren’t coming here because of me,” he said, “but, because of the service.”