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Future entrepreneurs find fountain of wisdom in alumni advice

Forbes magazine recognized Rollins College as the #11 Most Entrepreneurial College in America for 2015.
Rollins has the distinction of being the only college in Florida to rank in the top 50. College is not only a place of academic education, but also an endless source for new ideas to prosper. The campus embraces social opportunities, offering a wide variety of activities, allowing students to meet new people and network.
The Rollins Crummer Graduate School of Business also boasts the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship, which serves as a mentoring, networking and education facility to aid and assist the business owners of tomorrow. Rollins and its resources can be an integral tool in its students’ development as an industry magnate.
An entrepreneur, by definition, is “one who undertakes an enterprise; one who owns and manages a business; a person who takes the risk of profit or loss.”
It is not a career choice for the faint of heart; many vigorous challenges lie ahead in your journey to success. What is your idea or concept? Can this idea revolutionize? Can this idea benefit the masses and perhaps augment the status quo?
Many Rollins alumni have been happy to share their experiences with their own companies and the challenges they have faced. Ranging from multimedia companies to home furnishings, Rollins alumni have proven themselves to be as diverse in their interests as they are bold in their enterprise, willing to test the waters of the global consumer and creative market.
“The Crummer Graduate School is proud to be an integral part of the growing role entrepreneurship plays in today’s current economy,” said Dean Tom McEvoy.
He added, “The proliferation of start-ups in Orlando and nationwide lends credence to the rising value of entrepreneurial education.”
Michelle Jones ’01, Organizational Communication major, is the president of Violectric, Strings Etc., and Fretless Rock. These companies have allowed her the opportunity to tour, work with a variety of musical artists and companies, educate through art programs of her own design, and compose original work.
She reflected on the importance of having a strong supporter who will not only help spur your vision, but also advise you on how to achieve it.
“If you can intern with a seasoned professional in your chosen genre or have a strong mentor relationship with your professors, they will also give you guidance towards your desired path,” she said. She added, “Although some of my strongest lessons were from the school of hard knocks, I learned more from my mentor and professor Alphonse Carlo, as he was a seasoned professional who saw something in me and encouraged me to never give up.”
Patrick de la Roza ’08MBA, CEO of EASE Applications, a smartphone application designed for clinicians to provide updates to patients’ families and friends on their loved ones’ medical procedure. He brought to light the challenges he has faced thus far with his company.
“Our biggest challenge has been speed to market,” he said. ”We have a great concept and our customers have echoed the same. However, selling to hospitals has been one of the most challenging things I have ever attempted. There are many obstacles to overcome and approvals required in order to acquire a new customer. EASE has opened a window into the operating room that has never before existed; however, that causes some to pause. Once they realize the profound benefits, we are able to move forward, but it requires tenacity and creativity.”
John Humphrey ’10MBA, CEO of Greycork, an innovative and modern furniture company, offers insight into making your entrepreneurial endeavors a success.
He said, “Find the time to maintain a healthy personal life. I have a theory that there is an invisible tether between your personal life and your professional life, and you won’t be able to make sustainable strides in one without making comparable strides in the other. When running a start-up company, you trick yourself into believing that you have to put your personal life aside in order to succeed. From my experience, that’s not true. In fact, I’d argue that if you don’t continue actively finding outside sources of inspiration or creativity, you’ll get burnt out and your performance will suffer.”
There is no denying starting a new project is challenging. Many factors can become a hurdle, especially if you are also studying at school and juggling classes.
Adam Schwartz ’12 MBA, Founder of FRESHeTECH and Freedom Audio, shares how early ambition will benefit your long-term career.
“Start working on projects early. It is much easier to graduate from school with a small business generating revenue than starting from scratch,” he said.
Besides a fantastic idea and diligence, what is the key to getting your business venture off the ground?
Marketing. In an age that is tightly interwoven with mass social media, it is easier than ever to bridge the gap between yourself and rest of the world.
Networking is made easier with applications like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, among others.
Bridget Murray ’14 is the Founder and CEO of BMMaids: Bridesmaid’s Maid, a service devoted to writing speeches for bridesmaids, groomsmen and maids of honor. She started her company in August 2014, and she has found success by seeking out new clients and contacts on her own.
“I do all my own marketing, so it really is up to me how much work I want to put into it. I try to reach out to at least five wedding planners a week, distribute business cards to local venders, post on social media, and target bachelorette/bachelor parties I find online. I try not to spend any money on my marketing, and so far I haven’t had to!”
Kim Burdges ’05 is the founder of Mixtape Entertainment in Atlanta, which is “a multi-media production and editorial company focusing on independent film, music, and events.”
She is also the Co-Founder and editor of MixtapeAtlanta, a website devoted to music and film event multimedia. She recognizes the biggest trial of forming your own company is taking full responsibility for it.
“The biggest challenge is also the greatest advantage: you’re the boss. You get to call the shots, but at the same time you have to hold yourself accountable,” she said. “Success and failure all fall on your shoulders.”
Business is business, as they say. But what you make of your business and the hard work that goes into it creates a whole new you.
So what are you waiting for?

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