Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During July 2013...

The End of The Road

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 6:25 pm

As my time draws to a close at Alpha Waste I have begun to process what I have accomplished here in the past 2+ months. I have placed over 3000 phone calls to businesses all over the Triad that havegenerated nearly $11,000 (monthly!)in quotes for Luke to attempt to sell. I was shocked to see that dollar figure because there have been many days where I have come up with only one or two quotes and a handful from which I walked away empty-handed. Each quote can be as small as $50 (still, monthly), so it was really tough to fathom just exactly how much I have been helping around here. With a few days left I am still hoping to grow that number as much as possible.

This has been a tedious process to say the least, but I have learned so much as y’all have read about and this week my hard work has been rewarded. Tina will be out of the office for a couple days this week and I have been groomed and chosen to assume her duties while she is gone. I recently had a lengthy meeting with her to learn how to keep the money coming in in her absence. This Thursday and Friday I will be solely responsible for collecting payments and billing our roll-off customers. I tried to learn how to do thiscompletelyearlier in the summer but did not really understand enough about the business and services rendered to be able to do it correctly and efficiently. The numbers are obviously not the issue since they are few (being a Math major doesn’t hurt), but the process is tricky at first. I am very proud of being left to manage such an importantpart of the business that Idid not understand all too wellonly a few short weeks ago.

With this new added responsibility, I can’t help but think what else there is that I could do for this company. I first thought that the accounting could take me some time to master, but after a couple hours I really got it down so what else could I learn? Unfortunately in their infant state, Alpha Waste does not offer as many opportunities for employment as larger companies, especially part-time jobs that would be worth their time and money for me to perform during the school year. Mike has reiterated time and time again though that if I ever want to be a part of Alpha Waste down the road to call him without hesitation. It is an offer I honestly did not think much about at first but have more and more in the past few days with my expanded responsibilities. I really have made great personal connections with everyone here and feel like they both respect my work and enjoy having me around. Maybe I’ll be back someday. Who knows what the future has in store?

Come check out the Summer Fellow Presentations to hear more about my time at Alpha Waste and my final experiences running the show! Monday August 26 at 2:00 in 230 Reynolda Hall

 

 

 

A New Step Forward

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 4:08 pm

Last week was very exciting for me to be a part of the Fulton & Roark team. Not only did we receive some really great news, but we were able to successfully ship out our first bulk order to Mast General Store. These chains of stores are in three states and with eight locations in all, this marks a big step for our company. This order has increased the amount of shops we are in by 300%, and has largely expanded the territory we sell around. I am just as eager to hear how our product does in the stores, and when or if we need to ship them out a resupply.

What is equally as exciting is the upcoming Charlotte Men’s show where clothing stores from around the South all gather to pitch their new products, but more importantly, they come to buy new items and accessories for their stores. This is where we come in, being a small startup company, we are very enthusiastic at the notion that we will hopefully be able to sell ourselves into many of these clothing stores that are coming. Plans are underway this week in preparation for the show, including setting up all the necessary tables, posters and merchandise we will bring with us. Further, since our production process is so slow and we need as much of our product as possible for this weekend to give away as samples, I will be very busy making as many units as possible.

I am looking forward to see how we do this weekend and whether trade shows like these are worthwhile for companies such as ours. If it is, we expect demand to greatly increase which means we are currently looking into fulfillment centers around the Winston-Salem area to help us package and ship out product in a more efficient fashion. Although that will relieve some of the pains of having to ship for ourselves, we will still need to make the cologne by hand before we hand it over to the shipping agency, which is even more time consuming and labor intensive.

Finally, last week I emailed some online magazine editors in hopes that they could do a piece on us and our cologne. Fortunately, I have received two responses, and one of them, the head writer for A Continuous Lean (which is a men’s fashion blog), was very intrigued by what we had to offer. He plans on writing an article on us, and even went as far as to say we could be featured in GQ! At the time when I emailed him I didn’t realize he also works for this famous men’s fashion magazine, but now after hearing this, my bosses and I are beyond ecstatic. We are frantically putting together an e-commerce portion of our website so we can sell our cologne online in order to keep up with demand if we are fortunate enough to be featured in GQ. Wish us luck!

-Dave

 

Plugging along at Hydrating Humanity

Sunday, July 28, 2013 9:23 pm

After my ninth week of Hydrating Humanity, I look back on my week as a busy but a good week, nonetheless. I spent much of the week plugging into potential cause marketing clients in the Winston-Salem area. I e-mailed and sent “comments” out to roughly 50 businesses in the area. While I have not received any replies yet, I am hoping to pick up some interest in the future. If my e-mail campaign does indeed not pan out with much success, I will turn my efforts towards dressing up and visiting these places in person to speak about a mutually beneficial relationship between Hydrating Humanity and the local businesses. Sometimes in person meetings work best and convey messages in the best manner. Only time will tell if this approach will be used.

In addition to the cause marketing campaign and continued talks with Buz.fm, I spent a portion of the week meeting with a few administrators and professors at Wake Forest that have helped Hydrating Huamnity’s annual event, Hydrating Humaniate, in the past. I really enjoyed speaking with Dr. Billy Hamilton among others and showing them a commemorative book that Hydrating Humanity has put together detailing Wake Forest’s well that was constructed in the Kuria District as a result of the fundraiser on campus. I really enjoyed these meetings, and it was really fun to meet such highly esteemed and accomplished people on campus. I thoroughly enjoyed answering questions about clean water and Hydrating Humanity. This has been one of my favorite parts of the internship.

With Pat, my supervisor, in Kenya on business for HH this week and without a computer (his hard-drive crashed), communication has been a little more difficult, and it takes a little longer for collaborative efforts to get done. While I know Pat is needed in Kenya, I wish I could go back and interact with people of the Kuria District. I know that he is doing wonderful work there and making Hydrating Humanity a respected organization in the area.

With just two weeks remaining, my efforts will be focused on attempting to get businesses to partner with Hydrating Humanity as well as working with Buz.fm to start Hydrating Humanity’s aggressive social media campaign. I look forward to the opportunities that these may bring.

Leadership

Friday, July 26, 2013 5:13 pm

What does it take to be a leader? From my time at the LIVESTRONG Foundation, I would say it takes balance.

Balance. In order to successfully lead an entrepreneurial organization everyone knows you have to be willing to put forth a great deal of effort. You cannot simply expect your dream to become a reality by just sitting back and managing others. You have to be proactive and include yourself.

On the flipside, however, is that must allow the rest of your organization to follow. An organization in which employee aspirations are constantly given the chance to flourish creates not only a positive following, but also a productive one.

LIVESTRONG Foundation’s current CEO, Doug Ulman, is a stellar example of balance. This man is an entrepreneurial genius. From my desk, I’m able to watch as he makes his way through the building every day. He is wholeheartedly invested in the day to day happenings of this organization. I do not think I have ever seen him NOT in motion. This man is always moving.

What is even better, though, is that I have also been able to see the trust he puts into his fellow colleagues. He realizes their strengths and asks them all to run with him in this entrepreneurial race. No one here is just a figurehead. These people are truly dedicated to their cause of helping people affected by cancer.

For the LIVESTRONG Foundation, balance is shared success. We share success because the real success is a found by a life changed.

Blessings,

Elaheh

Managua: Where stoplights are optional and the time doesn’t matter.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 4:04 pm

Working in a foreign country is going to be difficult no matter how you slice it. Doing business in an underdeveloped Latin American sprawl is a whole different story.

My international business experience here in Managua has been exactly that: an experience. The distinct cultural differences between Nicaragua and the States have made these first weeks both frustrating and exciting. The chaotic vibe of Managua is apparent the moment you step out of the airport and your seatbelt-less taxi blows through the first red light he passes. Motorcycles zip fearlessly between trucks and traffic is occasionally halted to allow for the passing of roaming cattle. 1950’s US school buses equipped with blaring sound systems and overflowing with Nicas circulate through the veins that is the Managuan grid fueling the spurting economy. Sidewalks exist in theory though the vast majority have been annexed by bordering properties pushing the pedestrians into the streets. While the blaring deficiencies of infrastructure (of which a crippling 1972 earthquake is mostly to blame) present challenges in everyday life, one quickly learns that there is a method to the madness. The Nica cowboys blocking the road with their cattle are actually part of multi-million dollar organizations whose dairy products represent the backbone of the Nicaraguan economy.

Doing business playing by Nica rules is a learning experience. Apart from getting accustomed to the castrated Nicaraguan Spanish (here the last ‘s’ is dropped, i.e. gracias becomes gracia’) , I have had to re-learn all the formalities of business in a different language and a different culture. Sometimes there is a hand-shake, other times a kiss on the cheek, while on occasion, an awkward arm grab will suffice. Nicaraguans rival the Italians with their intricate use of body-language; people point with their lips (making a smooching motion in the desired direction) and running your index finger over the other means “pay up”, to name a few. Machismo is also alive and thriving in Nicaragua. My female colleagues have learned neglection the hard way despite their experience and qualifications. In Latin America, one must learn patience if accustomed to a US time frame. A 3:00 meeting will start any time between 3:15 and 4:30 depending on a complex algorithm consisting of the size of the meeting, the number of gringos involved, and what I believe to be, the migratory pattern of the pelicans of Lake Nicaragua. To be honest, I still haven’t worked it out.

Despite these challenges, I am blessed to have this type of intercultural experience. Learning a new subtle hand-signal or turn of phrase has kept things interesting and has made this experience fly by. Living life Nica style isn’t all chaos though. They live by the phrase “hay mas tiempo como vida” or “there is more time than life” and that one should drink slowly from the well of life and enjoy. Pues, Buen Provecho!

 

-Ollie

 

Looking Inward

Thursday, July 25, 2013 1:05 pm

This blog prompt actually could not have come at a better time. This week at Alpha Waste, I have been frequently leaving the office with Mike to go make collections from people who have long overdue bills for whatever reason. Most of these were contractors who used our rental roll-off service and then simply did not pay for the final removal and dumping. Additionally, since these are shorter-term jobs, we expand our coverage area for this service to as far as Raleigh and Charlotte. In our drives all across the state I got to know a little bit more about Mike, Alpha Waste, and how he keeps everything running.

The biggest thing I learned about entrepreneurial leadership is that you will be getting your hands dirty, withouta question. I started thinking to myself “Why is the owner of this company the one driving hours on end to collect a couple hundred dollars if we’re lucky?” The answer came to me quickly: Who else could he ask to do it? With so few employees, the person in charge must create a strong independent culture. IfMike were to pass responsibilities on simply because he does not believe that is in his job description, then why would each subsequent employee down the chain of command not assume that is okay? As I have touched on before, everyone here wears many hats for Alpha Waste so if you see something that needs to be done, you simply make it happen.

I believe that I have what it takes to become a similar entrepreneur as far as the management aspect goes. I have always taken issue with delegating tasks to others that I know I can do better than they, even if I have more pressing issues at hand. Whenever I have been the leader of a group project, I always tweak and improve things turned into me by other members before final submission. This is something I do not particularly enjoy, especially since it would be too easy to simply forward the assignment along, but it is just in my nature I guess. There are obviously some parts of running acompany that I am not sure how wellI would be able to do, yet many others such as this make me think long and hard about starting my own businesssomeday.

Week 6: Social Media Marketing Made Easy

Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:00 am

Since the 2003 launch of MySpace.com, social media networking sites have been growing as powerful influencers over the public. Gone are the days when Facebook was just for you and your friends. You can now find any of your favorite restaurants, bands, or products on a slew of platforms across the internet. Companies are harnessing social media as tools for marketing and advertising, sometimes ditching traditional methods all-together. The social media craze has even created never-before-existing job positions like those of Social Media Marketing Specialists, Interactive Marketers, and Online Community Managers.

Naturally, an online start-up like Campus Grumble and social media go hand-in-hand. Much of CG’s marketing is done through Facebook and Twitter. It can be difficult to manage all the friends and followers at times, but Ryan and John have discovered a great tool that I’ve had the chance to get to know very well over the past few weeks – ManageFlitter.

ManageFlitter is an all-in-one Twitter management application. I sign in with the CG Twitter credentials and from there I can easily see who we’re following and who is following us.

Here are just a few of my favorite ManageFlitter features:

- Track who has unfollowed CG
– See how many clicks a specific tweet has gotten
– Search for new accounts to follow within our target market
– Quickly follow or unfollow a large number of account holders
– Write tweets and schedule them to post at a specific point in time in the future

However, my all-time favorite (and most useful) feature is PowerPost. PowerPost allows me to see when the majority of Campus Grumble’s Twitter followers are online and active, meaning that’s prime time to post a tweet. This is such helpful information! It keeps Campus Grumble from over posting and blowing up user activity feeds, but also ensures that my posts are getting read by our intended audience. Here’s a screen grab of what a PowerPost in the making looks like:

The top box is where I write out the tweet which always includes a school hashtag and a link to the original grumble. The check box above indicates that I want to be able to see how many people have clicked on this tweet after it’s been posted. The bottom graph is an indicator of when most of Campus Grumble’s followers are on Twitter and the blue button allows me to specify the date and time I want the tweet to go out.

I use PowerPost everyday to feature popular grumbles from any of our schools’ CG pages. They are used to drum up site activity and remind people to keep grumbling over the summer months. Getting to see the analytics on my tweets has been the most rewarding. Some of them have even been retweeted and favorited by a few of our followers!

If you manage multiple Twitter accounts or just want to use your time marketing via social media more effectively, I highly recommend this tool.

Shelby A. Taylor
Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Week 7

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 3:41 pm

I am really excited about the success of my blog FreeHipHopInstrumental.com. This site is really new, but already it has a decent amount of traffic coming in and post pages are ranking really well in Google for related keywords. I’ve realized that there is so much competition among music blogs for search engine rankings, but very little competition to rank for keywords related to instrumentals (beats of hit rap songs without the vocals). Moving forward, I am continuing to work on this site along with HipHopMixtape.org. There is definitely more room to monetize, FreeHipHopInstrumental.com, and I can see this eventually being an opportunity to move in to selling beats on the internet.

I have been brainstorming a lot this week about the Facebook page, and how to grow its involvement. I have prepared several methods that I am going to pursue this week to grow the page. First off, I am going to host a competition. Everyone who likes the page and posts a comment will be entered to win a free mixtape review on the site. These cost $20, and there has been a consistent stream of people ordering them. Promoting this contest to our large following on Twitter should do well to spread the word. Also I will be offering a playlist for free download through the Facebook page. You will only be able to download this playlist if you have already liked the page. Hopefully, this will give people incentive to like the page.

I am looking forward to working this week on building the Facebook page and I am excited about what the future holds with FreeHipHopInstrumental.com.

This is Water

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:43 pm

As I approach the end of my Internship with Flash Purchase Golf, I thought this would be a good week to share a commencement speech that has been one of my favorites and influenced the way I think about life. You will find the video link at the bottom of this blog post.

The commencement address was given to Kenyon College class of 2005 and was written by David Foster Wallace. In his address, Wallace frames the way we often think about life and the moments that consume our day to day activities and contrasts them with how he believes we should think about our lives. The crux of his argument rests on the choices and way we choose to perceive and interact with the world around us. According to Wallace, we cannot necessarily control the things that happen to us in our life or even our day to day circumstances, but we CAN control how we react to our environment. The key to living a happy and meaningful life is actively choosing to do so.

Keeping in perspective that our lives as college students are almost infinitely easier and more comfortable than the majority of the world, we often complain about minor inconveniences many others would be happy just to have the opportunity to have. For example, this summer I’ve spent countless hours on my way home from work everyday stuck in rush hour traffic, tired from a long day at work. What I often forget is that many people would be happy just to have a job. I’m not exactly roughing it and often I think we forget to keep things like that in perspective. Life is rarely easy regardless of your circumstances, and many peoples’ lives are way tougher than mine has ever been. The important thing to remember is that regardless of your circumstances in day to day life, you CHOOSE how you will handle things. Its the choice that matters. Its that choice that separates this life from being a roller-coaster that you’re trapped on to being one of the best rides of your life. You’re along for the ride anyway. Choose to enjoy it. Choose to be happy. Choose to be thankful for what you have.

http://vimeo.com/66775750

The End (But Really the Beginning)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 5:50 pm

Although my eight weeks interning with TakeTheFight came to a close, I will still continue working with the company over the next few weeks. The project has turned out to be the guiding framework for TakeTheFight to launch this semester between Wake Forest’s campus and the Cancer Center at WFUBMC. I am continuing to set dates for fall recruitment orientation, training, and meetings based on the Wake Forest events and academic calendar.

The best part has been the ability to use my own ideas and creativity to develop and continue TakeTheFight. I enjoyed the independence and felt like I gained important time management skills. I also enjoyed working with my leukemia cancer patient and the continuing work I did to help he and his family. It is refreshing to have hospital staff recognize me in a different part of the building and stop me to ask how I am doing and to tell me “it’s wonderful…what I’m doing for the Smith family.”

The worst part is the anticipation of the fall semester because I’m impatient. I want to see how successful the recruitment of new strategists and their training go and that just won’t happen until September. But I’m confident that TakeTheFight will not have trouble gaining interest for its expansion.

An exciting aspect recently came up. We were published in the Association of Community Cancer Centers journal called Oncology Issues. The Association of Community Cancer Centers reaches over 900 hospitals, 1200 private practices and 18,000 oncologists & healthcare professionals, all of whom treat more than 60% of America’s entire cancer patient population. My picture with my patient and his oncologist were printed in the article.

It has been a very rewarding and enjoyable summer experience and I am even excited to see the progress of TakeTheFight 5-10 years from now!

 

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