Wesleyan instills a “Go Get ‘Em” mentally in the students. From the classroom to locker rooms to the conference room students are taught to lead with passion. Many young adults have graduate from Wesleyan with the knowledge of how to start a company in the real world.
Alumni Spencer Sutlive (’16) and Henry Collins (’16) started their outdoors company right after leaving the halls of Wesleyan. Rugged Road Outdoors is a company that sells outdoor gear for camping and hiking. The products vary from clothing, to packs and any other equipment needed for an outdoor excursion. Sutlive said, “we are hoping to release our coolers in the Spring.”
Sutlive has had to adjust as a college student and a businessman. He said, “Being in college definitely throws a curve ball in the whole young start up thing. But, being that I love what I’m doing, it makes it a lot easier.” Students should take Sutlive’s advice; find what they love and go with it. Doing what you love will make whatever you’re doing so much more enjoyable.
Economics teacher, Franklin Pridgen, agreed with Sutlive and said, “Follow your passion. If you think you have a great idea or opportunity, don’t sweep it under the rug or dismiss it. Pursue it. Identify those people who you think might be able to help and pick their brain about it. Maybe nothing comes of it or maybe you have found a golden goose. But you won’t know unless to follow it all the way through.” High schoolers that find a passion need to pursue it and make their dream a reality; with a bunch of hard work and dedication, anything is possible.
Freshman Ansley Eigel said, “By following your passion, you’re going to get a lot farther in an enjoyable way. Not following a passion is like taking a crowded Marta bus from Brookhaven to Downtown Atlanta. Sure, the destination is kind of cool, but you took a Marta bus packed with a hundred people to get to an equally crowded place. In other words, you took the most common motive of transportation to arrive at the most common destination. Following your passion is like taking a rollercoaster to Greece. You hit some ups and some downs and almost threw up, but you had the time of your life, and now you’re in Greece. You took a unique way to get to a beautiful destination. By following your passion, you ended up in the place you’ve always wanted to be by taking the way you always wanted to get there.”
Athletic Director Marc Khedouri said, “the best advice I can give is to find a mentor,” someone to help you along the process is key. As a young adult there are many questions that come up, without someone to ask constant advice for it is easy to get caught up in the jumble of a new business.
Alumnus Grant Frerking (’17), started a business during his years at Wesleyan and has continued to grow his company into his college years. Metro Straw is a yard and service company that provides mulch and pine straw to be placed precisely where the costumer wants it.
Pridgen said this about Frerking, “Grant has really capitalized on his wonderful reputation that he built while here at Wesleyan as well as strong word-of-mouth endorsements within the Wesleyan community. I think he also built some key strategic partnerships along the way that have raised the profile of his business.” Frerking has done a tremendous job of sticking with his company, putting in hard work to see it keep growing.
“Grant is a great example of someone who saw a need and figured out how to meet that need and do it better than others. His success is hardly accidental. He has worked extremely hard,” Khedouri said. Frerking worked extremely hard to get where he is now; he is an example of how young entrepreneurs should act.
Frerking said that his company “has had a steady growth stream from establishment in 2015. Since being in college, we have expanded to service the Nashville and Knoxville areas.” College has been a beneficial time for Frerking’s business, since he has stretched his company across further than ever imaged hoping to become “the single largest ground cover installer in the United States.”
Seniors Dylan Jenkins and Cameron Binney have followed in Frerking’s footsteps’, they started their own lawn service company over the summer. Their company is called Elite Lawn and Services. Jenkins said, “Cameron and I would wake up most weekday mornings and lay pine straw and mulch. It was a great way to earn money and it was a good workout.” Their company is very small but is flourishing into a larger company. Jenkins said, “Even since the school year started we get job offers on the weekends, our names are getting around the community, which is providing more job opportunities. Cameron and I are excited to see where our business takes us.”
Binney is a role model to his friends and family. His sister, sophomore Ashley Binney said, “He told me he loved being his own boss and how cool it was that they got texts and calls from people to help them so quickly.”
Junior Cardo Gottlich said, “I have a firewood business that has been passed down from my older brother’s while they were at Wesleyan. We only sell from November-until early March. And chop all year round.” It is sweet to see older siblings pass down their businesses to their younger siblings.
A major part of starting up a new company is to build your brand. Sutlive said, “Rugged Road Outdoors is currently working with a marketing team in Atlanta that utilizes social media to target our audience. We also have a brand ambassador program that allows photographers and outdoor enthusiasts to represent our gear across the country. Between these two methods, we’ve been able to sell our gear in 42 of the 50 states and we hope to keep expanding our horizons.”
These are just a few businesses that Wesleyan students and alumni have started. There are many more that have been successful. The Wesleyan community has a huge role to play in these companies expanding. Let’s lead with passion to strive to follow a dream.