The following essay was written by Dewayne Washington II, a finalist for the 2018 SuretyBonds.com Small Business Scholarship.
The positive of attending the University of Miami is that for spring break, everyone comes to you. There is no need to go elsewhere. Prior to going to South Beach during spring break 2017, a friend and I drove to the dining hall on campus. Considering it was spring break I imagined that parking restrictions were down, so I parked at the closest parking spot to the dining hall. Soon to find out, I was wrong. After eating, we came outside to a college student’s worst nightmare. A parking ticket; a $45 parking ticket. As a financial independent college student, I had to find a way to pay for this parking ticket on my own. Working a minimum wage job at the gym on campus, I immediately calculated I had to work an extra 6 hours to pay for this ticket. A $45 parking ticket was not in my budget.
I expressed my conflict to my friend because I knew he would be able to relate. We imagined that we were not the only college students who were financially independent and received parking tickets. So we began to brainstorm how can we can possibly help others in our position. Through weeks of conversations and thoughts, we finally formulated the perfect idea. CollegeTickPic! An app where college students simply have to upload their parking ticket via a picture and within 24 to 48 hours, their parking ticket will automatically be paid. The college student only has to choose the amount of coverage they want for a year, then make monthly payments on the coverage. This allows students to easily budget for their unforeseen parking tickets and not have to spend a large lump sum of money at one time. Within a month of launch at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, CollegeTickPic received 2000 downloads.
Developing a prosperous business is not a simple task. People always see the ideas of Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb turn into successful businesses, and assume their idea will go viral as those. Little do people know how much that goes into making an idea, a business. Simply laying the legal groundwork to allow a business to function properly is a difficult task of its own. Deciding which legal entity to create such as a Limited liability Company, Corporation or others, then creating proper contractual agreements with partners, independent contractors, and future employees are just the beginning of the legality behind all businesses.
After the legal groundwork was set, the next step was transforming my idea into reality. As any business, upfront capital is needed in order for it to become a reality. The success of CollegeTickPic depended heavily on capital. Considering I am a business major and do not have any coding background, capital was needed to outsource the app. Funds were also needed for marketing, and mainly paying for the parking tickets when submitted. Raising capital probably is where I learned the most not only about running a business but about myself. I discovered a sense of passion and confidence that was unknown. To ask family members and investors for money, one has to prideful believe in themselves before one believes in them enough to provide financial gain. Communicating that passion effectively is a task one can only learn with experience. Asking someone for $10,000 to begin a venture is not a small feat, and takes a lot of courage and comfortability in one’s own skin to successfully complete.
Since creating CollegeTickPic I have become apart of the Hyperion Council, the most exclusive honors society in the University of Miami’s business school. The Hyperion Council is an organization that aids small businesses and nonprofits in the Miami area expand and reach their goals. I am currently working on a project with a market in the area that has individuals vendors who want to take their business beyond the market every Saturday. Many vendors were actually illegally working at the market due to not obtaining the proper food or business licenses to operate in the state of Florida. As someone who is currently trying to build their own business, I was able to relate to the confusion and conflicts the vendors were facing. Along with two of my classmates, we developed a 5-week workshop where the vendors come and we walk them through each step they needed to accomplish in order to properly run their business.
Working with the vendors has taught me organization is needed when leading others. To properly create a workshop and assure ten plus vendors attend is a tedious process. Many people have different schedules so finding a time that each vendor can attend every week was hectic in itself. Then assuring the vendors complete a task prior to the next workshop causes for constant follow up emails and phone calls. This project with the Hyperion Council, along with school, growing CollegeTickPic, and involved with two other organizations on campus has developed my skill of multitasking. Balancing all is not easy, but manageable. Multitasking is a necessity to my future, however, and a skill I must master. I hope to pursue a career in Wealth Management as a financial advisor where I will be balancing the portfolios of many different clients. The advising skills I am learning by working with the vendors will also enable me to be successful in the profession. Helping others in the financial realm is a passion of mine. My experiences with CollegeTickPic and the vendors will aid my future as I continue to diversify my experiences and develop skills throughout the rest of my collegiate career.
Dewayne will continue attending the University of Miami in the fall, pursuing degrees in Accounting and Finance as well as minoring in Business Law.