Johnny Hebda Named Entrepreneur of the Year at Brigham Young University

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In the annual Brigham Young University's College Entrepreneur Organization Competition, Johnny Hebda was named one of three Student Entrepreneurs of the Year for his business Pointe Pest Control

Each year dozens of students compete in Brigham Young University's annual Entrepreneur of the Year Competition sponsored by the College Entrepreneur Organization, commonly referred to as the " CEO Club". Students go through lengthy rounds of judging and emerge to three finalists that are selected upon successful completion of the various rounds. During the final round of the competition, students present their businesses to a panel of investors and venture capitalists that select the winners based on a detailed evaluation of each business and their presentation to the student body of their business.    

Utah is home to many start up businesses each year and Brigham Young University regularly produces some of the top notch talent.

Listed on the Marriott School's Web site is the last ranking for student entrepreneurs at BYU by Entrepreneurs magazine, and BYU was voted as No. 12 in the nation.

Faculty entrepreneur mentor, Gary Rhoads, said that BYU produces one of the highest percentages of students who run their own companies in the nation.

"We try to have students develop their ideas and concepts fully so the minute they graduate they can start their business. But most can't wait," Rhoads said.

This year's winners included: Johnny Hebda of Pointe Pest Control, Ethan Heintzelman, founder of Elite Express, and Bo Porter, founder of Fox Websites. Each of these students won $10,000 in cash prizes as well as additional awards in in kind services.

Hebda has also been invited to the Global Entrepreneurs' Organization competition where he will compete against student entrepreneurs from colleges throughout the US and Canada.

Johnny Hebda, owner of Pointe Pest Control, shared his feelings about putting work as first priority, which is not typical of most college students trying to juggle a full load of classes, social activities, and dating. Hebda explained that it is a constant balancing act for him, but finds it easy to put business first because he considers himself to be a workaholic.

"People are dependent on me, and I depend on the business because it's my source of income," Hebda said.

He also said students should not wait to start their own business because they do not think they have the time.

"Just know your opportune time and take advantage of it," Hebda said.

Derek Pando, President of the BYU Chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization, pointed out that now, while in college, is the best time to start planning a business.

"Never will a person be in a better position where they have so many free resources and ideas, BYU tries to create an environment for entrepreneurs," Pando said. "There is the entrepreneurship club, faculty who mentor for free and great networking opportunities."

Networking is the buzz-word among these entrepreneurs. All spoke of how they met their partners and investors through occupations, classes and school organizations. Hebda said he is constantly meeting new people because he is not stuck behind a desk. While Alder's company was able to network with investors through an online speed-pitching competition. Networking was also pointed out as the second most important skill in running one's business while in college, the first being time management.

While having a successful business in school can be rewarding itself, BYU Marriott School provides competitions such as The Business Plan Competition (BPC) and Student Entrepreneur of the Year (SEOY), where students can earn large cash awards. SEOY is the most recent competition, just having its finals in December 2007.

SEOY was organized by the BYU Chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization, and was impressed by many of the entries, which according to the organization's President Pando had revenues in the millions, employees near the forties, and room for growth.

Johnny Hebda grossed annual revenues well over $3 million dollars in his Salt Lake City and Denver locations. An impressive model for any business, but especially for a 25 year old undergrad.

"I feel that running my own business while going to school has provided a more hands on approach to learning. The BYU faculty and advisors have been extremely helpful in providing advice and direction during the process. I truly feel that I will graduate with the best education available in entrepreneurship, business and leadership available. I have learned so much during this process and running a business while attending classes has been the perfect synthesis for a well rounded education," Hebda says.

Upon graduation, Hebda plans to expand his business ventures before going on to get an MBA. Hebda employs hundreds of college students each summer to offer his services through door-to-door marketing, as well as technicians to service residents homes for common household pests, such as spiders, ants and mice.

"This has certainly been a huge sacrifice in many ways, but I feel that the skills that I have learned and financial security that this has provided me at such a young age will catapult me years ahead," Hebda says.

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