Joseph Guy: What it’s Like to Manage 175 Students While Still in College

by / ⠀Entrepreneur Interviews / September 20, 2010

Recently we had the chance to catch up with Joseph Guy who is a senior at the University of Dayton. Joe is the CEO of the student run business on campus called Flyer Enterprises. Flyer Enterprises does over 1.4 million in revenue each year and has 175 student employees across 8 campus businesses. The program has given Joe more experience than he could have imagined while at college. He believes that a program like this goes above and beyond traditional learning with just text books and professors.

Read below to find out what he has learned and how he thinks other students can start a program like this at their school.

How did you get into entrepreneurship. Were you always on that path?

One of my first jobs was working at a car dealership which is where I was exposed to the sales side of business. Ever since then I have had an interest in business and wanted to run one of my own. During my junior and senior year of high school I ran my own cleaning business. My dad was looking for a company to clean his office so I told him I would do it for half the cost. The key was he pushed me to organize and run the business like a real company. He had me put together a mini business presentation and plan to present to him to show that I was organized and could handle the job. Once I left for college my two sisters took over the business and have built it into a bigger company today.

When I was looking at colleges I knew I wanted a tangible business experience. I wanted to avoid a program that just had text books and good professors. Flyer Enterprises at the University of Dayton offered this and is the main reason I chose to go here. I got hired my freshman year and worked my way up in the program to my CEO position today.

Could you explain to us what Flyer Enterprises is?

Flyer Enterprises is one of the largest and fastest growing student run businesses in America. The program is made up of 8 businesses which together generate 1.4 million dollars in revenue. The businesses are made up of two coffee shops, a panini cafe, catering service, convenient store, smoothie shop, ice cream shop and an off campus retail store for University of Dayton apparel.

There are 175 employees in total, all of which are students at every level of the business. The students report to a board of directors 4 times a year which is made up of alumni and business school admins.

What advantages do you think being part of a organization like this offers college students?

1. Chance for students to have employment. Largest student employer on UD campus.

2. Products and services for all students on campus.

3. Professional opportunities: There are many levels of experience that students can have which I’ll mention below…

Customer service experience at lower level. Purchasing manager or buyer. Hr teams for training and incentive programs. Community outreach who organize service trips for all businesses each semester—all before any management position is even reached

General managers: purchasing, customers service, hr directors get a chance to develop culture of business, the students are also responsible for hiring and firing. Financial managers: accounting, cash deposits and work with CFO and holding people to budgets. Marketing directors: Develop plans for divisions. and reach markets.

Executive team of 8 members. Divisional presidents work with managers. Long-term strategic development and fill management positions and development employees. Long-term product line purchases. Leading group of managers while still undergrad in college.

CEO is meant to be the face of the student organization and university. As well as external face for outside meetings and collaboration. Taking goals of each division and bringing them together into the long-term goals.

While operating a profitable business is important, the most important part is providing knowledge and experience to all.

What are the advantages/disadvantages between being part of SRB or starting your own business?

Being part of an SRB has many advantages. There is a balance of the initial entrepreneurial passion and spirit while being part of an organized and established business. There is a structure and proof of success in an SRB. Everyone is growing and has that spirit to be innovative and grow the company.

You get the best of both worlds while having the stability that you would not have while running a company on your own. You also get a better classroom experience because many projects are done with classes and cross over so you can take things from the classroom to the real world.

How could other college students start something like this at their schools?

One key thing is to get in touch with and look at the 5 established programs at The University  of Dayton, Georgetown, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton.

Actively reach out to these programs and identify the structure they have in place. Figure out how it will best fit in with your university. We are also working on forming a SRB conference to bring all of the programs together to learn and help other students start them at their own schools.

In the end it is a common passion and each program does not view each other as competition.

What is the biggest thing you have learn while being CEO of Flyer Enterprises?

I know now that whatever I end up doing has to be something that I am passionate about and I have to love the people I am working with. When you graduate make sure you are truly doing what you love.

This is on top of all of the professional development, friendships and the education I have received here.

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