Business administration major Samuel McCarter learned to keep his mind and eyes open when it comes to new business ventures. The graduating senior from Lincoln, Nebraska, found his first big opportunity when scrolling past a Facebook status post made by his friend Travis Tagart.
“Travis asked if anyone wanted to help him start a business,” McCarter said. “I wasn’t sure how serious he was but I messaged him and a day later he sent me all the numbers, locations and initial capital needed to get the ball rolling. I double checked it and it sounded like something that could take off and succeed.”
The proposed business was Foundations Progressive Learning Center, Inc., a new Montessori-style preschool daycare targeting families who might not have the income to enroll in most upscale daycares.
“It’s pretty exciting. We integrate our preschool with things like conscious discipline where we have a child-led and play-based environment. The point is to let children pick what they are interested in and our teachers bring in their passions. We want kids to develop a love not only for writing or math or reading, but for learning in general,” he said.
McCarter’s responsibilities fell in line with many of the strategic and financial subjects he learned at CBA.
“My accounting courses really paid off and helped keep our books in line. You have to make sure you have the money needed to pay the bills. The other big thing was meeting my mentor Tom Walter, a serial entrepreneur from Chicago. It wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t at CBA,” he said.
Walter has visited CBA several times giving insights to college students looking to start a business. McCarter, who is president, treasurer and co-founder of the preschool, learned about building the right business culture from Walter.
“He focused on making sure we knew how we wanted our employees to feel in the workplace. The employees are around the kids their entire shift, so if the employees are happy, the kids are happy, which leads to happier families and customers.”
Among his duties, McCarter represents the business in negotiations with vendors, by assisting in marketing and helping Tagart interpret the financials.
“For a small business managing the cash flow is huge. It’s one thing to look at a market from the classroom perspective but now I have to dive into the thick of it to find out what makes a difference in the marketplace and what the competition is doing. We want to provide a high quality service at a competitive price that’s cheaper than anyone around us, and that’s one way we differentiate ourselves,” he said.
Their Lincoln location opened in the spring and already has about 30 children from ages 2-5. Although they did not expect the preschool to grow as fast as it has, they are already planning to open a second location in Hickman, Nebraska, and widen the age range of students they enroll.