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February 18, 1994 - Image 3

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-02-18

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, February 18, 1994 - 3

- Mindyour own
Entrepreneurial spirit, poverty drives
students to start own businesses

iversity students know what
it's like to make it through the
semester with a limited bank
account.
Eating meals in the dorms, using
Entree Plus, scrounging for beer money
- worrying about the unpaid tuition
loans, or empty Spring Break accounts.
A typical scenario in the lives of
many University students.
And so many students are forced to
realize that if they want more spend-
ing money - and Mom and Dad are
not usually in a check-writing mood
- they're going to have to earn it
themselves.
Many work in local stores and res-
taurants, others babysit or tutor to pocket
some extra cash.
Some- eagerly anticipate football
season, when they can bombard the
mob on its way to Michigan Stadium
with their newly designed T-shirts
depicting Beavis n' Butt-Head, Calvin
and Hobbes, alcohol emblems and the
traditional "F-Notre Dame" message.
Whatever the method, whether it is
a "get-rich-quick" scheme or a long-
term money maker, the fact is that many
students work.

However, there are some students
who are entrepreneurs at heart and
who have a keen sense for business.
While their motives for money-mak-
ing may or may not be the same as
others, these students have invested
more time and energy into their en-
deavors - taking time to research,
plan and oversee their own business
operations.
Two recent graduates of the MBA
program in the School of Business Ad-
ministration exemplify students who
are anxious to get a head start in the
business community.
After completing their first year in
the MBA program, Kurt Scholler and
Scott Severance decided in July 1992
to open a store on South University
Avenue called Condom Sense.
In September 1992, they opened a
second store in East Lansing near Michi-
gan State University.
One year later, they expanded their
stint to the restaurant industry, opening
up the Salad Days restaurant on South
State Street.
Although the Ann Arbor Condom
Sense store has been renamed Condoms
101 because another company with the

same name threatened to charge them
to use the name, it is still owned by
Scholler and Severance.
"Scott and I really love to create, to
set something up, to refine it, and watch
it work," Scholler said.
Scholler and Severance completed
the MBA program and are now looking
toward the future.
Scholler said the condom stores and
the restaurant are endeavors that he and
Severance will try to develop into a
franchise project.
Scholler said he felt the concentra-
tion in business was helpful.
"The Business school did certainly
show us what pieces were involved in
business and the kinds of things one
might think about to do long-range plan-
ning," he said.
But he added his belief that anyone
willing to "embrace risk and enjoy pos-
sible freedom," has the potential to start
a business.
Meet three University undergradu-
ate non-business majors, who have suc-
cessfully operated their own businesses
for more than a year. Though their
initial reasons for starting their compa-
nies differ, these students have proved
that they have what it takes to be suc-
cessful entrepreneurs.
for future lam

w
~. .~ .,...LSA senior Ron
Meisier started a
sealcoating
business with a
loan from his
father. He now
services more than
400 customers a
year.
SMARY KOUKHAB/Daily
Summer job inspires, dad's
loan seals future, success

SA senior Ron Meisler took the idea for his asphalt
aintenance company "The Driveway Dr." from a
summer job he had when he was 14. By the time he was
16, he knew enough about the business to run it himself.
And so, with a $300 loan from his father, he founded
his own asphalt maintenance company on a small scale.
In May 1990, Meisler was featured on the cover of
The Detroit News Business section. A photograph of
him standing in front of his company's emblem brought

Blue Card pulls in green

N student

en Brian Lewis asked his friends to go into
* N~ibuiness with him, they tured down his offer.
"At first no one really took me seriously, and now
they're all kicking themselves that they didn't go into it
with me," Lewis said.
Four years later, Lewis is preparing to sell the "Blue
Card" - the reusable discount card that has expanded
his bank account, and in the process taught him much
about the business world.
"Initially it was a money-making thing. I didn't
know how much money I could make, and every
semester I've made more," he said.
Lewis' concept is easy to understand.
At the beginning of each semester, he solicits adver-
tisers for the card, which provides a six-month advertis-
ing space at a fixed price.
"For a six-month ad, this is
rather cheap advertising for (the
Wj teVeryou advertisers)," he said.
Lewis said he usually comes to
decide to de, b t Ann Arbor during the summer to
* h n e a ut it" find potential advertisers, and tries
to renew their contracts at the end
Brian Lewis's advice of the fall semester.
to potential student After he has received the signed
contracts from the local store own-
entrepreneurs ers, Lewis works with a printer to
design the card so that each adver-
tiser is allotted space. He then has 15,000 cards printed.
The cards are then laminated and shipped to Ann
Arbor for Lewis and his hired help to distribute. Lewis
said he often stands on street corners and in other campus
areas to hand cards to passersby.'
Many local store owners have continually put their
trust in Lewis and his Blue Card. Lewis said Pizza
Bob's, Chicago Dog House and Subway are always
eager to be on the card.
Lewis attributed this trust to the fact that he doesn't
collect his paycheck until all the cards have been distrib-
uted everywhere on campus, from residence halls to
graduate-student mail boxes.
-: In addition, Lewis said the stores and restaurants
maintain a record of how many students use the card at
their store per day.
So, what is the advantage of this type of business?
Lewis is able to calculate how much profit he will
make at the onset of the semester.
"I don't have to get paid on an hourly basis, which I
would hate," he said.
But this entrepreneurial endeavor, Lewis said, is not
as easy as it seems.
"I have to sell the Blue Card, but I have to sell
myself too," he said.
Lewis said he does not intend to pursue a business-

him more than 200 phone
calls from potential cus-
tomers.
"People thought Iwas
an asphalt god," he said.
Three years later,
Meisler's business now
services more than 400
customers each summer.
The company usually
does six jobs a day, and
completes the treatment
in three days.
Meisler attributes his
success to his keen sense
for business.
"I saw that there was

No matter what
YOU are doing, no
matter what you are
making, you have to
inves a lot of
times
--Ron Meisler's advice
to potential student
entrepreneurs

potential there, and the customers were very receptive.
We enjoyed doing it and we did a good job," he said.
Now, Meisler claims the company advertises itself
by word of mouth, although he does have employees
who solicit customers over the telephone or by going
door-to-door.
Meisler operates the company from his Oak Park
office, where he is in the process of transferring all his
customer files into his computer.
The business has enabled Meisler to pay part of his
tuition, and covers all of his other expenses.
"My bank account was never a source of stress
because of the business, so I didn't have to work during
the school year and could solely concentrate on my
studies," he said.
But Meisler claimed he is still careful with his
spending.
He said that he has learned a great deal about em-
ployer responsibilities.
"I have to make sure the jobs are getting done right,
and that the customer thinks they are getting done right,"
he said.
Meisler has also experienced the stress of the em-
ployer-employee relationship.
"One of the most difficult parts of business as you
grow are the employees because they never care about
the business as much as you care about the business,"
Meisler said.
This summer, Meisler plans to donate a portion of his
earnings to a charity.
Meisler said his long-term goals are not only busi-
ness-oriented.
"I'm planning on going to law school, and I want the
business to pay for my tuition," he said.
He added that he hopes to make his business into a
national company.
"I love business, I love different ideas, I love learning
about it," he said.
By Randy Lebowitz
Daily Staff Reporter

related career, but added that owning and operating the
Blue Card has helped him get accepted into law
school.
"In retrospect, I think it has gotten me into a lot of
law schools. It's something that distinguishes me from
a lot of people," Lewis said.

MARK FRIEDMAN/Daily
Passing out his Blue Card
has brought Brian Lewis
Into contact with many
students and businesses.

People looking for jobs keep him employed

TSA senior Jude Pereira had spent seven stressful hours creating and
rfecting his resume when the idea popped into his head.
"Wouldn't it be great to have these resumes already made up?"
Pereira said he knew his business "Re-
sume Remedy" was a good idea because he
had heard many complaints from students Mat you I
who were unfamiliar with resume formats,
and who did not have much time to spend b ob$serva
preparing their resumes. 'ai
He thinks he has a knack for these C$ mp$aiii a .
/s YhC "W vie w. n ana.tc " ho c~ A-,-& _ t-- a - os -- -

r4

the process hassle-free so students can quickly get resumes on their way
to potential employers.
"The purpose of the disk is to get students motivated to search for
jobs that will provide meaningful experi-
ences applicable to his or her career objec-
ally have to tives through internships," Pereira said.
With his program, the dirty work is
a o rt are already completed. All that is left for a
htstudent to do is choose a resume style, and
AL ,tI enter the personal information the program
__ a2 rpnnPnctc.

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