Running a corporation at any age is no small feat. Through determination, innovative thinking and some help along the way, one Eastern Kentucky University student will step into a job of his own creation upon graduation.
EKU senior Christian Braun, along with two salaried employees (all under age 23), will move into 1,500 square feet of office space in Louisville next summer as DreamWalker Social Marketing Inc.
DreamWalker provides social media marketing optimization for its clients. This means it utilizes platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ to draw potential customers to its clients.
Eventually, clients are trained to manage their own social media marketing.
"It's unlike any other form of marketing," Braun said. "This is the future of marketing."
One of DreamWalker's first clients was the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber has gained more than 700 Facebook "likes" and now has more than 1,100 Twitter followers since it partnered with DreamWalker around seven months ago, said Mendi Goble, Chamber director.
"This has changed the Chamber completely," Goble said. "If more of the Chamber businesses take advantage of it, they will see some pretty amazing things."
What began as an idea, one laptop and zero funding, DreamWalker is now a small corporation, which recently distributed 1,000 privately-traded shares.
In its first year as an LLC (limited liability company), it profited around $50,000. Since it incorporated, profit has grown to $100,000, even after salaries were paid to employees.
Braun is able to pay himself and his employees each around $405 a week, he said.
"We've done well, but we're smart about it at the same time. We make money, but we invest it back into the company," Braun said. "These guys realize that there's a high risk we can fail, but there's also a really good chance that we'll be very successful and they would be in a high position in a small corporation."
However, Braun realized his business would not prosper on ideas and determination alone. He joined EKU's Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) business accelerator program located in the Business & Technology Center building on EKU's campus (next to the EKU Center for the Arts).
DreamWalker's office is located in Room 042 in the basement of the building in the business "incubator."
"It's a place to incubate; to help businesses get off their feet," said Michael Rodriguez, director of the Small Business Development Center, one prong of the CEDET program.
Rodriguez offers help in any kind of general business guidance, such as marketing research, bank loans, licensing and most of all, a business plan.
Around six or seven businesses are housed in the incubator, which provides basic office supplies like desks and internet access, giving each entrepreneur a "professional face to their business" for anywhere between zero to $400 a month, Rodriguez said.
However, Rodriguez's consulting services are free to anyone in the community, not just college students. His position is funded by a grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration and he provides outreach to 15 counties across the state.
He also conducts free workshops such as the Basic Recordkeeping and Tax Update scheduled Dec. 6 (visit www.ekubiz.com for details).
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