WEB EXCLUSIVE: Student entrepreneur tackles business, classes

Jessica Wojcik

Mike Burton(foreground), Joe Parlett and Ken Hejduk(back) are all former graduates of Kent State’s Visual Communication Design Program. The three formed a graphic design company and have recently moved into a studio at 1300 W. 78th St. in Cleveland. Wh

Credit: Steve Schirra

While most college students spend their free time partying or socializing with friends, some have no free time at all. For young entrepreneurs, balancing a business while studying for finals can prove difficult.

For Sean Bammer, 23, owner of Metropolis Popcorn, time management became his biggest challenge when he started running his business while still juggling classes.

“I was taking 18 credit hours and working about 60 hours a week,” said Bammer, who graduated from Kent State in May. “It was crazy for a little while. I don’t know how I ever made it through, to be honest.”

Bammer started running Metropolis Popcorn three months before he graduated with a marketing degree, but he said his professors were very helpful. Owning his own company made final projects and other assignments much easier for Bammer to complete because what he was doing at Metropolis Popcorn corresponded with his coursework.

Bammer’s time and hard work paid off. Cleveland Magazine rated Metropolis Popcorn No. 1 in its Best of Cleveland issue, and Bammer recently joined his business with another to begin selling gelato, soup and salad.

While Bammer is having great success with his business, he said running a company while still in college takes dedication and hard work.

“(Running a company is) for students that are highly motivated and devoted,” Bammer said. “It killed my social life. My life was pretty much school and work.”

Joseph Parlett, 23, and Mike Burton, 23, founded the graphic design company ‘Little Jacket’ located on West 78th Street in Cleveland. The duo had different problems trying to run a business while finishing college. To them, school seemed less important in comparison to running their new company.

“It’s really difficult while you’re in school,” Parlett said. “When I was finishing up school, I was also doing real work and so it made school seem a little more insignificant, and I don’t think that’s the correct attitude.”

Little Jacket began in spring of 2004, when Parlett, Burton and Ken Hejduk started screen-printing concert posters for local venues. The company has since expanded and now creates logos and t-shirts, among other items. It also has a second location in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Although both Parlett and Burton enjoy their work, they do not recommend other college students follow in their footsteps by starting a company while still under the pressures of an academic atmosphere.

“I think it’s a good thing to try and do freelance stuff while you’re still under the umbrella of school,” Parlett said. “I think that’s pretty interesting, but I wouldn’t go into it thinking ‘I’m going to start a business.'”

Parlett said this attitude helped him and his partners as they made their first promotional posters. They were not looking to start a business. Instead, the development of their skills unintentionally lead their small side project to blossom into a full-fledged company.

Contact Web correspondent Jessica Wojcik at [email protected].