Are you looking for some inspiration in jump-starting your career? Senior Trey Woodson, an entrepreneurship and marketing double major, has started his own website and published two books, and he said it is crucial for students to get a head start in their professions now.
“I don’t like to wait for anything,” Woodson said. “It’s important to be proactive at such a young age so that you don’t waste any time.”
Woodson has not been wasting any time. He said he was inspired to build websites while still in grade school.
“I’ve been building websites since I was in eighth grade,” Woodson said. “I would sit and code websites in my room at home. I just remember my dad telling me I was wasting my time because he thought no one was going to buy my websites. Then I would sell them for about $400 a piece. Once I started making money my dad was more supportive and encouraged me to keep selling websites.”
Not only does Woodson have extensive experience selling websites, he has also created his own, www.freenapkin.com.
“I used to go into antique shops and I would find all of these antiques and sell them on Ebay,” Woodson said. “Then I realized that it wasn’t worth it for me to have to list the items, go buy packing material, pack them up and send them to the post office. I thought I could figure out something a lot easier, so I built my website.”
Woodson started his website in December 2008. Halfway through 2009, he changed the site to its current format. Freenapkin.com allows people in all 50 states, Canada and the United Kingdom to post information about free items they no longer want and hope to give away. Woodson manages the website entirely on his own.
“My main goal is to get as many people as possible on the site because there’s such a variety of items that people can find and claim,” Woodson said. “It’s almost like a treasure hunt. You kind of look for what you need.”
Skills learned at St. Thomas make website a hit
Jay Ebben, associate professor of entrepreneurship, taught Woodson in the past. He said Trey has been able to use what he has learned in class to make his business successful.
“One very important element is that he has been able to prove demand without spending a lot of money,” Ebben said. “This is something that we stress a great deal in entrepreneurship courses.”
Ebben also said Woodson has taken advantage of free advertising through social networking sites because anyone can sign into freenapkin.com through a Facebook or Twitter account.
“Something that Trey has done very well is to use social media to get the word out about his business,” Ebben said. “This is one of the key reasons he has been able to generate traffic with little cost.”
Woodson’s longtime friend senior Francisco Velasquez said Woodson’s site is a good tool for students to use.
“I use freenapkin.com all the time because the web page is very helpful, especially for college students,” Velasquez said. “Trey is very committed to his tasks and his website proves it.”
According to Ebben, Trey is committed to school, as well.
“Trey is a great student to have in class,” Ebben said. “He is engaged. He’s not afraid to offer opinions and ask questions. He’s up on current events, and he genuinely wants to learn. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
A published author and licensed helicopter pilot
Woodson eventually put all of his knowledge on websites into a book, “Fast Track to Buying and Selling Websites.”
“The book did OK, but it wasn’t something that people were looking for,” Woodson said. “The concept of buying and selling online was extremely new when I wrote the book.”
Woodson also wrote a second book, but on a completely different topic: dating.
“I decided to write “The Dater’s Black Book,” because my freshman year roommate was struggling to get a girlfriend,” Woodson said. “I used to write dating tips all the time and I thought it’d be really cool to compile them into a book.”
Woodson said he would like to be licensed in many different things because he is unsure what he wants to do next.
“This past summer I actually got my helicopter license,” Woodson said. “Since I’m not really sure where I want to go from here, I just want to get a variety of licenses and certifications so I’ll have a lot of options in the future.”
Woodson said he would advise students to be “go-getters.”
“I want the St. Thomas community to be passionate,” Woodson said. “I know a lot of students say they want to do things in the future, but students have to be constantly looking for what’s new now in order to be successful.”
Cynthia Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.