Ready to launch: Georgian Court students and alumni are joining the entrepreneurial ranks
While recovering from an injury, Georgian Court University student Bryce Council, a Business Administration major and Sports Management minor, thought about the concept of overcoming adversity. It occurred to him that launching a brand that inspired people to overcome personal challenges would make a great business.
Bryce discussed the concept with Kim “KJ” Speller, a Marketing major, and Randolph “Randy” Simmons Jr., a Digital Communication major—and they created a plan. KJ would manage the website and social media, while Randy would create videos and work on other promotion. Bryce would work on sourcing and designs.
The result was a fashion brand called CyiSoon, an acronym for “count yourself in” and make “something out of nothing.” The brand’s core message is about believing in yourself, even when everyone counts you out. In less than a year, the business has produced a full line of shirts, hoodies, leggings, hats, and shorts and amassed a growing customer base around the world.
Doing business, Court style
GCU has a population of budding business owners who are working for themselves. Dean Jennifer Edmonds, PhD, says the School of Business and Digital Media (SBDM) provides an excellent environment for would-be entrepreneurs. “Our mentoring approach to everything—be it coursework, advising, or career preparation—provides a hands-on, one-on-one approach,” Dr. Edmonds explains.
The School also has a focus on digital development, which lowers the barriers of entry in starting some businesses. Additionally, having exceptional business minds and real-world business owners on the faculty gives students access to advice and contacts that can help them get their businesses off the ground, she says.
Graphic Design major Alexandra “Alex” Roman didn’t plan to launch a business from her dorm room—but when her sister asked her to create a logo for her horse training and sales business, she inadvertently launched a successful freelance design business. “I’ve designed logos, flyers, and other promotional materials for some local small businesses,” Alex says. “Many of them involved horse training and therapy, and because I love animals, it was really enjoyable to create designs that incorporated animals in them.”
Alex credits her classes with helping her develop the versatility that’s required as a designer. “Our professors have helped us tackle a huge variety of projects, and it helps us build a varied skill set so that we’re ready and willing to tackle any challenges that may come our way,” she says.
Launching a business with class
Like many college students, Taylor Bauerband ’18, ’19 and Nicole “Nikki” Gardner ’18 found upscale boutiques too pricey. They wanted to create a place where women could find great-looking clothes for reasonable prices. But they assumed that launching a clothing boutique was going to have to wait until they had enough money for it. “One day it just dawned on us that we can do whatever we want and start it now, then see what happens with it,” says Taylor.
Being SBDM students allowed them to merge their business ideas with their classroom work. They built the website for their boutique, Girls Next Door, in their e-commerce course and learned how to promote it in their marketing course. Having access to the experience and expertise of their professors helped them create a business that has solid sales and continues to gain a following on social media.
For student entrepreneurs like these, starting a business in school has changed the course of their futures.