Building Entrepreneurs, One Store at a Time

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Here today, gone tomorrow.

For “pop-up” retailers, that is the inevitable result. The bricks-and-mortar spaces are designed to promote businesses, but most have only a brief life expectancy. Whether a seasonal retail space — such as a Halloween or Christmas shop — or intended merely to display goods and services, the pop-up is among the latest marketing tools used to promote a business.

Student entrepreneurs at Gateway Community College recently showcased their business ventures at a one-day, public “Pop Up” that lubricated their entry into the world of entrepreneurship.

The May 8 event, held at Gateway’s Café Vincenzo, featured businesses offering products and services such as organic pet supplies, marketing and public relations, body art, sandwiches, motor repair, water transport and social-media technical support.

Student entrepreneur Frank Kuchinski displayed his Tradesperson Connection.

“Think of it as Linkedin for tradespeople,” he said, explaining that the difference is that Tradesperson Connection does not require a résumé and focuses more on profiles than traditional white-collar job-search tools. Among tradespeople, he said, jobs are often found through word of mouth rather than through a formal résumé-interview process.

“The idea is building a community,” said Kuchinski. “You get your opportunities through connections.” While the initial sign-up is free, the company makes a profit by selling premium services, similar to the Linkedin model, Kuchinski adds.

Diane Henderson displayed her home-care companion and housekeeping business geared towards senior clients, called Henderson Helping Hands.

“I’ve always had such a compassion for seniors,” said Henderson, who was a caregiver for her father when he became confined to a wheelchair.

The Pop Up day was a good learning experience, she observed. “It’s really helping me expose myself to people.”

Mike Roer, who teaches the GCC entrepreneurship course presenting Pop Up day, says it helps give students hands-on experience at a customized pace.

“They’re running a business for a day,” Roer said. “I want them to start their business gradually. They learn from these trial "http:////#there">there trying out [their business models] through short experiments at little or no cost.”

Brenda Durden’s Heaven Sent business of Bible verse-themed T-shirts and other apparel received strong positive feedback during the Pop Up event. She plans to sell her products online and to stores specializing in religious items.

“I like the idea of a Pop Up,” Durden said. “It kind of puts you out there so people can see what you’re doing.”


—  Felicia Hunter

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