Evan Knox is a rising junior at Charleston Collegiate School, but he doesn't answer the phone like a student. "This is Evan Knox from Bullseye Web Design, how can I help you?" he says.
In October, Knox will be one of two top finishers from the state Business Plan Competition who will travel to New York City to compete in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship's 2013 National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Knox and Aquila Brown, a rising junior at Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, will compete at the Times Center, where Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya will deliver a keynote message. Both Knox and Brown have already started their companies.
Knox says he's earned over $2,500 in profits so far, and he says his goal is to get steady monthly income for college. To seek out customers, he recently walked around the downtown Charleston Farmers' Market and picked up brochures from the vendors, looking for the ones that didn't already have websites. "I also have a unique marketing strategy," Knox says. He builds websites ahead of time and approaches potential clients with finished products that he can sell to them on the spot. Knox has had more than 20 clients, including his school, which hired him to design charlestoncollegiate.org.
Brown's company, Trusol Art, offers "expedient, hand-drawn art services," according to her pitch. Her overhead costs are low — paper and pencils — and her concept is simple: Give her a photograph or sit down for a session, and she'll draw your portrait for $30, plus $10 for every additional person in the portrait. Brown says she's made about 50 sales through family, friends, and church connections, and she's working on getting a business license to set up a stall at the City Market.
"Right now, honestly I'm just going to focus on running my business," Brown says. "The better I become at understanding it, the more customers I have. That's going to really help me out in the national competition."