Business class Entrepreneurs find success while still in school
AT AGE 11, Scott Walker set up a photo booth at a
fall festival in his hometown of Corvallis, Oregon.
Kids could sit in a small model airplane free. If
they wanted to take a photo, that was $3. If Walker
took the photo (and printed it on-site, thanks to a
printer powered by a car battery), it was $5. “We
made over $100,” recalls Walker, now 27.
He never grew out of that entrepreneurial drive.
After his sophomore year at Brigham Young University, Walker, with a financial boost from his dad,
started Underwater Audio (
high-tech company that makes waterproof headphones for swimmers and other water enthusiasts.
The company now has 35 employees, sells its products around the world and just celebrated its fifth
University life is challenging enough, with a full
load of courses and outside-the-classroom demands.
But some highly driven students don’t wait for
graduation to begin their professional careers. Like
Walker, these “studentpreneurs” launch businesses while still in school—and some grow their
startups into successful companies. We’re profiling
several Costco members who did just that.
Diane Fairburn’s business started 37 years ago,
while she was attending Virginia Commonwealth
University. She made stained-glass gifts in her dorm
room as a freshman and sold them at a table near
the cafeteria. “I just knew that’s what I wanted to
do,” she says of working with stained glass, “but
my parents wanted me to get a college education.”
“Whatever you choose to pursue, first of all
believe you can. Age is just a number,” offers Jamie
McNaughton, vice president of McNaughton Inc.,
a 30-year-old business that makes clever gadgets
for home and work (see page 41).
And Fairburn’s top tip: “Never ever, ever, ever
give up.”—Tim Talevich
MANY COLLEGE students struggle with
career choices, but
never wavered from
“I started dancing when I was 6 and
never second-guessed that’s what I wanted
to do. That’s been my lifelong passion,” says
Vogelzang, director of her own dance studio in Reston, Virginia. Greater Washington
Dance Center offers classes in ballet, modern, hip-hop, tap, exercise, classical music
and music appreciation to more than 200
The business began when Vogelzang
was attending the University of California,
Irvine in the early 1980s and like most students needed income. She was already
teaching at the dance department on
campus, but then she learned that local
studios needed substitutes to fill in, especially in the evenings.
& GREGORY GIL
Brooklyn, Ne w York
TOP TIP: It is important to understand
the relevant market and to build
relationships between your company, suppliers
Louis Guadagni (left)
and Gregory Gil
38 ;e Costco Connection AUGUST 2016