When Florida State University computer science major Stanley Flink met Professor Ron Frazier in 2012 at the 3-Day Startup on-campus event, he was impressed. Frazier had earned an MBA from the University of Missouri, is a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Fellowship Program, has two decades of experience as an executive vice president for three global technology companies, and is an assistant in entrepreneurship and entrepreneur-in-residence at the Florida State College of Business.
In Frazier, who was serving as a mentor-at-large at the event, Flink saw someone from whom he could learn the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, an area in which the Florida State senior, had a strong passion.
Flink jumped at the opportunity to attend 3-Day Startup, an entrepreneurship education program designed for university students with an emphasis on learning by doing and starting a tech company over the course of three days. It connects students with a network of mentors and investors. It is one of the many ways the university is encouraging entrepreneurship campus wide and across disciplines and a major step in Florida State’s goal of moving toward becoming the national leader in entrepreneurial education, becoming “the” Entrepreneurial University, an effort in which the College of Business is playing a major role.
Flink knew the event would be a great way to build confidence not only with public speaking, but also confidence to reach out to potential mentors who seemingly were “too big for a student to approach.”
The Tangerine, Fla.-native was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was Frazier a successful entrepreneur, but he was approachable and more than willing to mentor him. “I was amazed at how open Professor Frazier and other entrepreneurs were to providing feedback and advising students on anything related to business,” Flink said.
“Meeting Professor Frazier made me realize that becoming a successful entrepreneur was an attainable goal and the importance of being professional and being persistent with everyone is critical,” said Flink.
Nor would Flink have launched Whoobi.com, a web development, consulting and Google-certified contracting company less than a year later. The lesson he learned from his mentor about persistence paid off. After submitting eight unanswered applications to Google to become a contracted Google Maps Trusted Agency and Google Maps Trusted Photographer under the Google Business Views program, he wrote directly to the head of the Google program, and within eight hours was hired.
That move led to his receiving a $5,000 Genivia Student Business Grant, administered by The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business and designed for Florida State students engaged in entrepreneurship programs that focus on computer and information technologies. The grant was created by Robert van Engelen, president of the Tallahassee-based Genivia Inc. and chair of Florida State’s Department of Computer Science. The grant enabled Flink to purchase the necessary equipment for the highly competitive role with Google.
Using Google Street Views technology, contractors like Flink create 360-degree, panoramic tours that showcase businesses across the globe. These Google virtual tours not only enhance a business’ image, but more importantly, are displayed directly on Google search results, ultimately increasing the likelihood customers visit the business with a tour versus their competitor without one. Flink has become so successful at it that he was able to hire for several full-time marketing positions and has plans to immediately hire 10 more students for various roles in his company. Google has rewarded him by designating him and Whoobi.com a “Top Performer” among the more than 500 Google Trusted Photographers and Agencies nationwide.
Frazier, with whom Flink seeks advice frequently, is impressed with Flink’s success.
“What intrigued me strategically about Whoobi.com’s business model was how Stanley intended to leverage his role as a Google Trusted Photographer to get in front of potential customers and demonstrate his capabilities,” Frazier said. “Among the challenges student businesses face — all businesses face — is how to get their foot in the door and how to establish their credentials. We encourage our student entrepreneurs to look for ways to leverage big companies to drive growth and Stanley mastered the concept.”