But Carl Phelps ’09 (business administration) argues that the experience and rewards of entrepreneurial endeavors are more than worth the risk. Phelps is currently involved in not one but two start-up companies.
Phelps serves as the director of digital marketing for iWrite Marketing, a strategic marketing firm that assists small- to medium-sized companies in writing and implementing marketing plans, and is also co-founder of TheJobSafe.com, a job search engine that focuses on internships and entry-level professional positions targeted at college students and recent graduates.
“While at RIT, I did a co-op at iWrite and took an entrepreneurship class through the Saunders College of Business. I became hooked on the excitement and great opportunities working at a start-up can bring,” says Phelps. “I later decided to forgo an MBA or an entry-level job with a large firm to try my hand at business creation.”
IWrite was founded by Graeme Roberts, a former marketing manager at Eastman Kodak Co., and is located in RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator. The firm works mainly with high technology companies to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy both for the company itself and individual products. It also provides market research services to assist management in targeting potential markets for their goods and services.
“Most start-ups do not have marketing and communications departments or the funds to hire a high-priced agency,” notes Phelps. “IWrite’s training business, called The Commonsense Marketing Works, offers targeted, low-cost marketing support that can assist businesses in both getting off the ground and ultimately generating a profit.”
TheJobSafe.com is the brainchild of Phelps and former classmates Matthew DeMayo and Britton Vona ’09 (business administration). They developed the business in part due to the frustration all three felt in using traditional search engines to look for their first jobs after graduation.
“Most job sites focus on upper-level management positions that you need years of experience to be considered for,” says Phelps. “Given that most recent college grads do not fit those qualifications, these sites are not adequately serving a large portion of the job search market.”
TheJobSafe.com focuses specifically on entry-level and trainee positions that are geared toward new professionals with bachelor’s or master’s degrees. The site also assists people looking for internship or cooperative education opportunities. It launched in 2009 with a focus on the Rochester region and hopes to ultimately go national.
Phelps says his work with both companies has been extremely gratifying and has given him the opportunity to take on numerous responsibilities and roles that would have taken years in a traditional company. He has also had the chance to create something from scratch and have the satisfaction of watching as both entities have grown and expanded.
“Entrepreneurial work is certainly not for everyone, but for me the rewards have greatly outweighed any downside.”