College Students Embrace Small Business Opportunity
It appears that entrepreneurship is beginning to flourish at Brevard Community College as students are seizing the opportunities to explore and experience being their own boss.
In 2000, Bernie Simpkins, local philanthropist and well known Brevard County entrepreneur, created a generous endowment at the college, The B. W. Simpkins Business Seminars for Entrepreneurial Development. Twice yearly since then, renowned national and regional entrepreneurs have been invited to tell their success stories, motivate, and instill a sense of personal responsibility and opportunity to students throughout the community.
Three years ago, $1,000 scholarships were added to the program, and the college joined the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE), an organization dedicated to fostering free enterprise development at two-year colleges and technical institutions. Last fall, BCC began offering specialized entrepreneurship courses on the Titusville Campus. A new flexible Certificate Program allows students to take only what they need to start a business. And, a transferable AAS degree in entrepreneurship is expected to be in place by Fall 2010.
Students are responding! A records check at the college reveals that 35 students are taking or have taken entrepreneurship courses this academic year.
Success Stories from BCC
Brad Weinmann. Inspired by his travels and entrepreneurial bloodlines (his grandfather pioneered the hair dryer), Brad used his bike shop skills to develop a Pedi-Cab business. It’s a bicycle-based human-powered rickshaw. You may have seen him pedaling about on weekends in downtown Melbourne or at a recent Tico Air Show in Titusville. He is also a Simpkins Scholarship winner for his idea.
Chris Struttmann. At age 7, he built a computer; and at 14, co-founded Brilliant Innovations LLC, perfecting his skills in technical areas of robotics, programming, and software systems throughout his teenage years. In 2007, Chris’s work was published in the book First Robotics: Behind the Design. In June 2009, at 20, he co-founded TwiceTEXT.com, a free online textbook exchange whose mission is to provide contacts between book buyers and sellers at better-than-usual bookstore buy-back or selling prices. Utilizing social media, the business is expanding rapidly throughout Central Florida.
Teresa Smith. TKO Cleaning Services, Inc. was started in the spring of 2005 and has since grown to serve clients countywide. A background of previous experience including jobs at Disney, Coca-Cola and Bank of America, encouraged her to become her own boss. The TKO company specializes in both residential and commercial cleaning services. Teresa has achieved success and sustainability by emphasizing integrity, excellence, and complete customer satisfaction. She was a runner-up in a recent Simpkins Scholarship competition at the college.
Ethan Babb. During his senior year in high school, Ethan founded Tizzone Holdings, LLC, a real estate investment company that purchases potentially valuable properties through tax auctions. Current inventory includes parcels in Florida and Pennsylvania. Not satisfied, he also is in a partnership with Traveus Williams (BCC grad) called Street Vision Entertainment. They specialize in development, marketing, and production of independent hip-hop and R & B Artists. He also has a small retail operation selling fashionable athletic headwear that he’s transitioning into a web-based business called Thafitted.com. Ethan is also a Simpkins Scholarship winner.
Future job development and the economic well-being in Brevard County may well depend on young entrepreneurs such as these above, and those to follow that will seize the moment to be “The Boss”.
Dr. Pat Fuller is chair of Entrepreneurship Development at Brevard Community College and also teaches Economics and Business at the Titusville Campus. Contact him at email@example.com