Student entrepreneurs featured at a campus event: Indiana University Kokomo

KOKOMO, Ind. As a college student, Keith Dell wanted a flexible job that would fit his schedule—so he created one.

Dell, a junior at Indiana University Kokomo, founded Dell’s Auto Detailing a year and a half ago, giving him a chance to continue working toward his degree in marketing and management while earning an income.

“In the spring and summer, I’m overwhelmed with business and very grateful for it,” he said. “I like the flexibility it gives me to earn money for rent, utilities and school without being overworked. I hope to continue this into college and maybe beyond.”

Winamac-based Dell was one of the students featured at the campus’ first-ever business fair hosted by the Entrepreneurship Club on Thursday (December 1).

Alexis Pier, President of the Club, hopes that by hearing about the event, the students will stimulate interest and participation in future business shows, both to set an example for others and to gather support for their companies.

“The entire time I’ve been here, I’ve heard students talking about the small businesses they want to start,” said Pier from Kokomo. “We wanted to give them a place to promote their business as most don’t have a physical store to visit. We give them a platform to build word of mouth.”

The club plans to hold another fair in the spring semester.

Emilee Cregar opened her shop, EZ Clay, selling handmade polymer clay earrings.

“This is my first time trying to sell them, so it’s all new to me,” said Cregar, from Russiaville. She was inspired to start a business by her sister who makes and sells cakes.

“In our family, we’re all pretty smart,” she said. “I was trying to figure out what I could do that I would enjoy. I really like jewelry so I thought I could do that.”

She spent two years learning how to cut and assemble clay earrings, a slow process that requires concentration on minute details. Cregar also learned how to value her products, taking into account the time it takes to manufacture them. The work pays off when she sees customers excited to wear her creations.

“I want them to be able to wear what I made and feel beautiful,” she said.

Like Cregar, the family inspired Payton Deeter’s business choice as he followed his grandfather’s path and became a real estate agent in August.

“I enjoy being in the community, working face-to-face with people, learning about their lives and needs, and helping them find their homes,” said Deeter, from Wabash.

With an audience of college students who could be buying their first homes in the near future, Deeter prepared training materials on how to prepare the finances to buy a home and outlined the home buying process.

“It’s a way for me to get my name out there to people I don’t usually see on campus who are about my age,” he said. “Maybe they’ll remember me when they’re ready to buy a house.”

Dell not only wants to reach potential customers for its detailing business, but also inspire other students.

“I want to show them that you can start a business while you’re in school, as long as you’re dedicated and you work hard,” he said. “I want to share my story of how I started with a vacuum and a hose, and now I’ll detail the company’s fleets. It’s possible if you find something you enjoy.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.