If we learned anything from last week’s Student Entrepreneur Expo at Delta College, it’s that this is one creative campus.
Dozens of budding entrepreneurs showed off their products during the event, the first of its kind held at Delta. And not all of these entrepreneurs were even business students.
“You get to see a new side to your classmates. I didn’t know they could make soap or artwork or all of these amazing kinds of things,” said Julie Tran, who has been making “plushies” or stuffed animals since 2013.
Meet just five of these fine entrepreneurs:
‘Sal the Sneakerhead’
When he was in the eighth grade, Sal Aceves took a battered pair of Air Jordans to someone who promised to restore them. He never saw those shoes again.
OK, he thought. If that’s how it is, he would repair his own shoes.
“Sal the Sneakerhead” was born. Today Sal restores shoes – including some expensive, higher-end brands -- for customers as far away as Florida. It’s his fulltime business while he goes to Delta.
“I used to be really shy, not able to talk to people,” Sal said. “Ever since I’ve been at Delta I’ve been learning and growing. I’m really excited to see a school that is actually offering entrepreneurs a gateway.”
'Something I love to do'
Lizeth Delgado has been painting for years – watercolor, acrylic, oil, you name it.
“People would always ask me, ‘Why are you giving them away?’” she said. “You should make a business out of this.
“I said, ‘You know what? It’s something I love to do, and I’m passionate about it. I might as well make a business out of it.”
She’s been selling her work for about a year. She specializes in realism, including the painting of animals. Eventually she hopes to open her own art store or gallery.
Save the planet, dude
Kabir Gonzalez may be just 17 years old, but he’s already found a business niche you’ve probably never thought of before.
Kabir recycles old skateboards and gives them new life as bottle openers, keychains, containers for plants or anything else you can imagine. He started when he was 16.
“Most of these skateboards, people break them and throw them away and they never really have another chance of being used,” Kabir said. “They go to landfills and they just rot there. I recycle them and give them a second life.”
Most of his customers are skateboarders, and they seem to appreciate the fact that their beloved boards can be used again. Check out examples of Kabir’s work on his Instagram page.
Made from scratch
Nevin Francis had a healthy stream of customers this week, maybe because he was selling something we all use: soap.
Not just any soap. Soap made from scratch. Soap made with organic olive oil, goat milk and lavender, charcoal and tea tree oil. “Charcoal is known for getting the impurities out of your skin,” he said.
Nevin’s soap-making business started out as an experiment, maybe a way to earn small money here and there. But he’s hoping it grows larger, and judging by the number of people who visited his table at the market, it just might.
Being around so many other entrepreneurs, he said, was exciting. “It’s very energetic out here,” he said.
Visit his Instagram page here.
Out of the blue
Scott Yoder was sitting on his couch one day watching his daughter when he happened to slip her teething ring over a bottle and slide it to the bottom.
Sure enough, the teething ring stabilized the bottle ensuring that it wouldn’t get knocked over.
A light bulb went on. Yoder has now produced 800 “UpHolders” for bottles, cans and cups. Not only do they keep beverages upright, but they act as suction devices as well, securing bottles even on a moving surface like a boat.
Yoder is a microbiology student at Delta. You might never know he was an entrepreneur if you hadn’t seen him at the market.
“For somebody who is just learning, this event is a great way for them to put their foot in the door,” he said. Learn more about "UpHolders" here.
ABOUT THE EVENT: The Student Entrepreneur Expo was the result of hard work by Professor Andrew Kobylanski and his Introduction to Entrepreneurship class. Some of his students organized the pop-up market as a class assignment, recruiting entrepreneurs from across campus to participate. Other class members designed an entrepreneur board game, “Sixty-Six Thirty-Three,” which they sold at the event. Grant funding from the state Chancellor’s Office helped pay for tents and other needs. The hope, Kobylanski said, is to hold the expo every year. “We are making history,” he said.
Introduction to Entrepreneurship students and their professor, Andrew Kobylanski (far right), all of whom helped organize the Student Entrepreneurship Expo.