Two factories overseas, a business-paid trip to Boston, photoshoots for Vineyard Vines and a job offer from the writer of “The Conjuring.” These are just some bullet points on student entrepreneurs Zach Ryan and Vaibhav Singh’s resumes.
According to a study by Millennial Branding and Internships.com , 72 percent of high school students want to start their own businesses and 61 percent plan on opening them straight out of college. Some Chapman students, however, aren’t waiting to graduate to start their entrepreneurial efforts.
“The average millionaire has seven sources of income, so you might as well hit seven,” said Singh, a junior business administration major.
To hit these sources, you have to make moves, Singh said. He hates being stagnant. So does Ryan, a freshman business administration major, who is already on his third source of income at 19. In high school, Ryan co-ran the companies Nantucket Buckets and Ellsworth Toggery. But Ryan and Singh are not just hopping from one money-making trend to the next — they are trying to create their own trends.
“I’m all about entrepreneurship, (which) by definition is finding your niche in the market,” Ryan said.
But the trick may be finding two niches. Ryan, owner of menswear brand Zach Ryan, which is expected to launch in May, is combining west coast and east coast styles to create a hybrid oxford shirt. Singh also took two markets — real estate and drones – and founded FlyWorks Media.
Ryan’s business advice: “The reason I call it my name is because I want to have the freedom to create sort of a reflection of myself, create my own style, my own look. When you call a business something else other than your name, it therefore turns into something where you have to work for that name.”
To create a good business, all you have to do is mix technology with a simple idea, Singh said.
In August 2015, he made a cold call to Keller Williams Realty, asking to film the firm’s property with his friend’s drone. Now, Singh co-owns an office in front of Malibu Pier with business partner Skylar Hughes, a student at the University of Southern California.
Ryan’s two factories in India and Turkey were also a direct result of innovating two popular trends. Ryan buys the fabric in New York and ships it to Turkey, where the fabric is cut. The cut fabric is then sent to India, where it is sewn.
“West coast and east coast styles have been so different, forever,” Ryan said. “Nobody has ever tried to mesh the two together.”
Ryan’s drive to not just reinvent, but invent, is exactly the indicator of an entrepreneur, said Shan Steinmark, director of Chapman’s Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethic.
“The interesting thing about entrepreneurs is, this isn’t always true, but for the most part they tend to be more intrinsically motivated,” Steinmark said. “It’s like there’s an inner drive to make the world a better place, or invent something new, or to work with other people in a rapid growth environment.”
Steinmark said it’s hard to stop those people.
Singh returned from Boston early last week, where he was visiting his girlfriend, but still fit in business time to meet up with students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to discuss launching an iOS application.
Ryan spends his free time doing photoshoots for Vineyard Vines, Brooks Brothers, Jack Wills and Southern Tide, all companies renowned for their preppy fashion. The clothing lines send their products to Ryan, who in turn wears them in his Instagram posts. Ryan recently signed a marketing campaign deal with Brooks Brothers.
Ryan is not only receiving paychecks for his pictures, but also for future customers.
“(The brands’) million followers see that post and will click on my account, go to that account and follow it, and that’s really my key way of marketing,” said Ryan, whose Instagram account boasts more than 12,000 followers.
While Ryan is branching out on social media, Singh is venturing out in California. Singh said he has depleted most of Malibu’s real estate and now films properties in Orange County. With four employees, FlyWorks Media now covers almost all of Southern California’s coast — so Singh is looking at the stars next.
Singh’s business advice: “The most simple businesses get the most money.”
The company recently filmed a music video for the singer Kylie Hughes and is on the radar of a writer from “The Conjuring” about using drone footage.
“Dude, think about it: Movies like “The Terminator,” where they have all those skyline shots, you think they always use helicopters? No,” Singh said, quoting the writer from “The Conjuring,” who preferred to remain anonymous.
Singh may have his drone shots featured in the next horror blockbuster, but he didn’t have to invest much to get to that opportunity. It took less than $300 for Singh to jumpstart FlyWorks Media — $275 for its Articles of Incorporation, 99 cents for an email and the same price for a website domain.
Ryan said he also did not have to spend more than $300 to start Nantucket Buckets as a sophomore in high school. The earnings from Nantucket Buckets are funding his Zach Ryan company.
This may not be a coincidence. Steinmark related business to the Law of Parsimony, a scientific theory which says that sometimes the simplest option is the best solution.
The lead mentor to many of Chapman’s entrepreneurs thinks that it really comes down to timing.
“If you’d come up with self-driving cars 10 years ago, so what?” Steinmark said.
Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t require rocket science, but for Ryan and Singh, it took coming up with the right ideas — and rocketing forward.