Everyone laughed when Alex Volin, 22, and Keith Rogers, 23, told their families and friends at the University of Central Florida that they were going into business together.
And why not laugh?
Volin, a management information systems senior at UCF, and Rogers, a 2001 M.I.S. graduate, didn’t know much about how to start a business. No business plan, and little more than a vague idea, a credit card with a $5,000 limit and practically no marketing experience between them.
“A lot of our friends weren’t supportive,” Rogers said. “They thought it was a joke.”
Six months later, the pair – told to “dream on” by friends – is doing just that. These days, their new company, Dream On Information Technology, Inc., is earning more than respect. By next April, they say the company will generate revenues of $100,000. That figure is expected to double the following year. And, Volin adds, they have already reached the break-even point.
So, how did they get started?
Dream On IT started as a two-man operation knocking on doors, offering to create websites. Six months later, they have a staff of six full-time employees customizing software packages and providing tech support for their clients.
In April, 2002, Alex Volin and Keith Rogers walked into their first client’s office, Dr. John Shoemaker, bent on designing a website for him. That’s when they learned their first business lesson: different clients have different needs.
Shoemaker, an Orlando physician, didn’t want a website as much as he wanted to modernize his practice’s medical file system.
The pair came back days later with a solution. Today, in Shoemaker’s waiting room patients check-in using a computer that can also tap into their history. The “multilingual medical decision tree” program they designed comes in several languages.
“We were versatile enough to jump on (software development),” Rogers said.
Dream On IT now plans to tweak the program and make it available across the United States through tradeshows in Florida, and come up with a catchier name. “We’re not going to limit ourselves to the medical field,” Volin said, predicting competitors will have their own versions in two years.
And they haven’t cut their ties with the university, where they still share a nearby apartment. UCF interns are regulars on the staff. While the pair works daily on sales, three graphic design interns still work on websites, while a business student develops the marketing plan.
As for the future, Volin and Rogers want to continue learning and evolving.
“I’m not going to be close-minded [and not] take advantage of opportunities that come by,” said Volin, who graduates next May. Rogers is a bit more optimistic.
“We have aspirations to take over the world,” he said, chuckling. “But we would be happy with being the leader in tech support for businesses in Orlando.”
For more information on Dream On IT, visit their website at www.dreamonit.com.
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