Jim Moran Produces Multimillionaire Mentors
DivvyUp socks, once a class project in the Jim Moran Institute is now a multimillion-dollar company
Graduates of area entrepreneurship programs include some who have gone on to become mentors while still quite young.
They are serving as old gorillas but aren’t silver backed, not yet.
Jason McIntosch, Mitch Nelson and Spencer Bluni are all under the age of 30 and run a multimillion-dollar company, DivvyUp, which was started as a class project at Florida State University in 2014.
Their vision was to sell fun, personalized socks and give a pair to a homeless shelter for every pair the community purchased. Setting up around campus and selling socks, they donated 160 pairs of new socks to a Tallahassee homeless shelter in just six weeks.
Last Thanksgiving, DivvyUp surpassed one million socks sold and gifted to shelters all over the country.
McIntosch and his partners developed their business in FSU’s entrepreneurship program when it was still a part of the business school. He said that he, Nelson and other members of their group spent both semesters of their sophomore year working on the business in a class called Sophomore Experience.
“There really wasn’t much homework or tests,” he said. “It was getting into groups with your classmates, starting your business and really just figuring it out and getting your hands dirty.
“It gave us that freedom to make our business what we wanted it to be, while under the shelter of still being in college. Our professor gave us a $400 loan to get us started. That was really huge.”
McIntosch credits the entrepreneurship program with “allowing a company like DivvyUp to start at a very slow speed and over time grow into a company with a million pairs of socks sold and gifted.”
McIntosch and his partners return to campus several times a year to speak with future entrepreneurs and share their experiences.
Another pair of entrepreneurs, sisters Deborah and Michaiah Smoots, started their media company, Aloha Borah Media, while attending Gulf Coast State College in Panama City.
Dr. Emmaneul Hernández introduced them to another student, Tyler Anderhold, who developed a prototype that warned motorists of approaching emergency vehicles. The sisters produced a video presentation about the product, which was part of Anderhold’s Enactus entrepreneurial competition entry at Silicone Valley. They won third place. Later, the sisters entered and won a competition to produce a documentary for VIE Magazine founder Lisa Burwell. VIE is an upscale lifestyle magazine, published in Santa Rosa Beach.
“Dr. Hernández was very patient and helped us gain confidence in the entrepreneurial world,” Michaiah said.
The partners also credit Dr. Erica Goines, an associate digital media professor at Gulf Coast, for encouraging their pursuits.
“It’s sometimes hard to take those dreams and to make it a reality, but with the help of those two professors, they really helped us to help take our dreams come true,” Michaiah said.
“We got to meet a lot of influential people who are very well-established and doing a lot of things for a good cause. They all say, in different ways, to not be afraid to step through big doors. Work with excellent people, and never forget about what sparked the passion behind your work. Always remember why you do what you do. Why do you love it? You can do what you love and learn how to make a business out of it.”