College Fund Provides Entrepreneurial Seed Money for Student's Business

Blake Williams Combines Love of Horses and Business

October 18, 2007

Sonia Johnson once said, “We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference.” What Johnson said was true and at Wilmington College, there is one student who proves it.

Blake Williams, a sophomore who has a double major in Business and Agriculture one day saw a sign hanging up in Wilmington College’s Kettering Hall and decided to act upon it. The sign was publicity for student entrepreneurs who, after putting in an application for a product or service they like, could receive entrepreneurial seed money to better pursue their goals.

The grant Williams’ received was generously given through the Norris Family and is administered through Steven Stovall, assistant professor of management at WC and holder of the Ralph J. Stolle Chair in Entrepreneurship.

“I had to prepare a detailed business plan. It (the grant) was for $330 and it was awarded to people who had a well thought out idea of what they wanted to achieve. It is a great opportunity for anyone looking to start a business.”

Williams mentioned that she talked with Stovall to find out more information about the seed money. Stovall had gotten to know Williams through an Introduction to Management class at Wilmington College. When asked about his role in helping Williams, Stovall said, “I have to give all the credit to her. She made a business plan and did a lot of the work by herself.”

Stovall plays a big part as the Ralph J. Stolle Chair. He works with area entrepreneurs and connects the students with this field. Stovall mentioned that he has worked with students sporadically about pursuing their business plans, but Williams was the first to really accomplish her dream and to receive the seed money. “She (Williams) is just a remarkable young lady,” Stovall said.

Williams, who has been riding horses since she was five and showing horses since she was seven, had a very detailed idea about how she would use the seed money. Her idea was to develop a horse riding camp that would teach children, ages eight to fourteen about the training, care, and responsibilities of having horses. “The idea of starting the camps came up as a joke once,” says Williams.

But, little did she know that her dream would come true. Her idea materialized and became what was known as City Slickers Horse Camp. Williams said that she has always wanted to do something where she was the one in charge. The camps were held at her home in

Williams did a total of three camps over the summer. They were all booked full in advance, and many made comments about wanting her to start more camps. Williams mentioned that City Slickers Horse Camp was designed to immerse children in the equine world. “They have the opportunity to ride, train, and learn all about horses from the ground up. Campers are responsible for the care of their assigned horse. They do daily health checks, grooming, feeding, riding and tack care,” says Williams. 

“I started the camps as a way to make some extra money in order to support my horse hobby. It later turned into a passion. It was so much fun to work with the kids. Most of the kids were ones that other than this camp had no access to horses. It was gratifying to see them learn so much during the short amount of time.”

At Wilmington College, Williams is involved in Aggies, Collegiate 4-H, and the Equestrian team.  For Williams, the camp has not only helped her to learn how to start and run a small business but helped her to realize that when she graduates, she would love to pursue the idea of being an entrepreneur.

“In the future, I would love to start my own company and run it successfully.
It probably won't be directly involved in the horse industry but maybe not too
far away,” says Williams.

Stovall said that there will be applications soon for anyone who wants to apply for the seed money this year. “You don’t have to be a business major (to apply). You just have to be entrepreneurship-like minded.”

When asking Williams whether she would apply for it again, she said she would if she decided to do the camps this coming summer. Williams was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to work as a horse trainer in Georgia this coming summer. She is considering partaking in this, rather than continuing the camp, but hopes to start the camps back up the following summer.

To accomplish one’s dream of starting one’s own business or being in this field is such a great feeling. Stovall says that he believes Williams will go far. Having once started his own business career at a young age, he feels that he can closely relate to Williams and how business-oriented she has become. Williams said she has learned a lot from this experience.

“The camp was very beneficial to everyone. I learned how to deal with customers
and kids. I learned how to teach kids of all ages. I learned how to budget and
plan ahead.  The children learned teamwork, how to take care of the horses, and how
to ride. Everyone had so much fun.”