For Christopher Phillips, a senior business major taking the entrepreneurship track offered in the College of Business Administration, a childhood hobby has become a viable business. The recent Entrepreneur Challenge Business Plan Competition gave him deeper knowledge about the issues he’ll need to contend with, along with ample professional advice. And, as one of the two winners, he has $5,000 to invest in his company, Miami’s Finest Aquarium Services, which services commercial aquariums and hobbyists in South Florida.
Phillips took Business Plan Development, one of the required courses in the entrepreneurship track, and attended a number of “Boot Camps,” led by successful business people who touched on issues from strategy and finance to Internet marketing to networking to marketing and public relations.
“Developing a business plan, attending the boot camps and participating in the competition in which we presented to a panel of judges all helped me a lot,” said Phillips, noting that he plans to use the award money toward the purchase of a van for his mobile line of work.
With his business plan to guide him, Phillips will continue to build on the relationships he established years ago when he realized he had a talent for tending aquariums. That’s when neighbors started paying him to take care of theirs. Now, night clubs, restaurants and other commercial sites are among his customers-“My tanks are all beautiful,” he said-and he already sees opportunities for expansion in such areas as wholesale livestock supplies and coral propagation.
Hard work gets amply recognized.
The second winning team, the non-profit Science Boomers, promotes the importance of science to children by engaging future scientists in a summer camp that will include hands-on activities, experiments and field trips.
Both winning teams were recognized at an award ceremony in April at the conclusion of the competition and again at the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, held on May 16, 2009.