Growing young entrepreneurs the CCU wayby Russell Alston
The entrepreneurial careers of four Coastal Carolina University students have received a major boost, courtesy of CCU’s second annual Business Plan Competition.
The competition, sponsored by the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, is designed to help students focus on developing ideas for long-term success in business and society through principled entrepreneurship.
First place and $1,000 went to Derek Frimpong, a recent graduate of CCU with a B.S. in economics, for NorthStar Inc., a company he started that offers adventurous vacations in Africa. The idea for NorthStar Inc. originated during a trip to Africa in January 2011, when Frimpong became the third-youngest person to climb the Uhuru peak and reach the top of Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“During the process of organizing my trip, I saw an opportunity for a business, and I took it,” he says.
During the summer of 2011, Frimpong worked day and night, coding the entire site for the company himself, starting accounts for the necessary financial transactions and establishing connections with guides in Tanzania. “It was a good learning process on the origins of a business,” he says.
The company currently offers one- to six-day safari tours in Africa’s Serengeti or five different trekking trips on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Frimpong recently visited the Dominican Republic to scout the island, pursuing his plan to expand his company into the Caribbean.
The second runner-up prize ($750 cash) went to McKinsey Cochran, a management graduate of 2012, and Derrick Frasier, a business major from Orangeburg, for their company FitNetOnline. It’s a social networking website that allows clients to set fitness goals that, for a fee, are monitored by a personal trainer. Those who wish to use the website without paying are still allowed to interact with a trainer, without the monitoring of fitness goals. Users will also be able to interact with other clients to share tips and techniques.
Third place honors and a $500 cash prize were awarded to Matthew McCoury for Woods Inc., a sunglasses company that creates frames of ebony or bamboo that can float in water. McCoury, a 2012 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in management, invested his prize money in manufacturing 500 pairs of the sunglasses, with plans to market them to water sports enthusiasts this summer.
Of the 23 business plans submitted, five finalists were chosen. A three-judge panel of local business leaders then voted for the winners, using the oral and written presentations in grading the entrants.
Rob Salvino, an associate professor of economics at CCU and an organizer of the Business Plan Competition, praised the winners: “They all went above and beyond. This competition is completely voluntary, demonstrating extraordinary drive and motivation on their part.”
Salvino also believes CCU benefits from the event. “The competition allows us to partner with some of our alumni and community leaders, gaining their insight and also showing them what our students are doing,” he says. “These opportunities give our students a chance to show themselves in action. They are real experiences that help prepare them for life.”
Along with the Wall College, the Business Plan Competition was sponsored by Jeff Mense, owner of Emerson Storage; Todd Woodard, president of SiteTech systems; and Alexander Klaus, class of 2005.