The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at High Point University. Through annual Business Plan Competitions, academic programs and experiential learning opportunities that inspire innovation, HPU is graduating job creators, not job takers.
One example is Kristopher Hovland, a senior, who founded Tekiture – a company that designs and manufactures desks for computer gamers.
Hovland’s idea stemmed from a late-night gaming session his sophomore year at HPU. A messy, cramped desk with tangled wires inspired him to design a desk specifically for the needs of tech enthusiasts and gamers. And so Tekiture was born.
At the time, Hovland had just changed his major from game design to business administration. He hadn’t yet taken any business classes, but knew he wanted to pitch his idea at HPU’s annual Business Competition Plan.
“The process of forming a business plan was difficult, but it made me take a hard look at various pieces of my business I hadn’t considered,” recalls Hovland, a native of Glastonbury, Connecticut. “I had to say to myself, ‘Okay, I know my market is PC gamers, but who actually are these people? How old are they? How much money do they have?’”
In front of a panel of five investors at the competition, Hovland pitched his idea: an adjustable computer desk that includes pop-up tablet stands, 300 remote-controlled LED lights and strategically placed spaces to organize and hide computer cords. Hovland won $2,500 in start-up capital for his plan, which paved the way for what later became the TekDesk and TekTop.
His next step was to find the right manufacturer – a process that took months.
He met with the Connecticut Small Business Association. He put an ad on Alibaba, a business-to-business website. He even considered using Amish manufacturers. Eventually, he ran across a manufacturer that made pool tables.
“I thought, ‘a pool table isn’t so far from a desk,’” says Hovland. “I then contacted him, and we have been working together for the last 18 months.”
After he graduates in May, Hovland will focus on growing Tekiture and continue to prototype new designs with his manufacturer.
“With the help of the High Point University Business Plan Competition, I was able to execute my desk idea,” says Hovland. “When it came time to actually form my business, I had a strong outline of how things should be done because of the competition. I am now selling my desks to customers. Real people pay me real money for my product, and that is an incredible feeling.”
“As I grow the business, the demands and requirements will become more challenging,” he says. “I decided on leadership studies to help my career as the owner of my company.”
His interdisciplinary studies also allowed him to take classes from an array of HPU faculty members.
“I can’t fairly say I’ve had one single most impactful professor at HPU; I can think of a dozen truly wonderful professors at HPU. It would be unfair to pick out just one of them!”
As someone who started his own business well before graduating college, Hovland advises fellow HPU students to not let anything stop them from pursuing – and achieving – their dreams.
“Be persistent, be bold and train yourself to be active. Your life is whatever you make it out to be. Ask questions, learn for the sake of learning and don’t be afraid to pester people. My dad always says, ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease,’ and I have found this to be quite true. The world can be yours for the taking; you just have to actually get up and take it.”