Three entrepreneurial students discussed their unique journeys as business owners at the first Entrepreneur Speaker Series of the semester hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Gordon Ford College of Business on February 20.
Robert Bowden III, a freshman from Atlanta, Georgia; Bailey Dahlquist, a junior from Chicago, Illinois; and Dustin James, a senior from Bowling Green, Kentucky; served as the panelists for the presentation.
Work-life balance was a hot topic for each of the business owners, providing insight on how each of them balance their full-time course schedules with running a business as well as maintaining a social life.
Bowden is the founder and CEO of Spartan 4×4. He discussed how he started his business during his sophomore year of high school. His first car was a Jeep Wrangler that he desired to customize. While customizing, he knew that others want to do the same, which is the impetus for starting his business.
Dahlquist reminisced on a favorite hometown hangout, where he and his friends indulged in scoops of cookie dough. Those memories gave him the idea to bring that delicious moment to downtown Bowling Green. Dahlquist also made it a priority that his cookie dough store, Raw, would be an active member of the community.
James is the owner of Odd Jobs of Bowling Green, a company he founded after coming back to WKU after a stint of working in a manufacturing facility. After discovering that his job wasn’t going to lead him to promotions and success, he determined to start a business that performs odd jobs for people who don’t have the know-how or equipment.
All three men agreed that sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Bowden shared how he chose to miss one of his classes to attend an important Chamber of Commerce meeting. He missed a quiz, but gained valuable information that could potentially take his business to the next level.
James advised the prioritizing of time and maintaining a strong support system.
While their business journeys are all different, the one thing they all could agree on is the fact that the entrepreneurship program has provided resources for success. Each mentioned a professor who is willing to help and advise with whatever is needed. Each mentioned a class that provided knowledge or hands-on experience that enhanced something in their company.
“We are extremely proud of these entrepreneurial student-business owners,” Center of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Director Dawn Bolton said. “I could not have better scripted their message that students can start businesses and earn their entrepreneurship degrees at the same time, and in fact, their classes and WKU resources can help them be successful in pursuit of both.”