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Student Kayaks His Way Into Business

Student Kayaks His Way Into Business

ASU Weekly Report.

By Staff Writer.

August 8, 2012.

Cole Watkins didn’t expect his Business Communication class assignment to be anything more than a grade when Sea Stachura, instructor in the Department of Communications and Professional Writing, presented the class with a challenge—to build a business from the ground up. While any business would do, it had to have the capability to survive in today’s market.

“I was actually dreading it,” said Watkins.  “I’ve always been the type of person to say that Augusta is what you make of it. I thought about something I love, that maybe not everyone around here knows.”

Watkins grew up playing on rope swings and train trestles, and an idea began to take shape—showing others his favorite secret spots by kayak. Once the direction was firm, the assignment became less of a project and more like a fun planning session. Kayaks, paddles, a hauling trailer, promotional advertising, what routes to take, and everything necessary to run a start-up all went into his presentation for the class.

But the numbers kept running through his mind.

“Cole was excited about this early on, and his energy for this project was evident right away,” Stachura said. “You can tell when a student is going to do something with a project versus just doing it for a grade.”

Watkins realized his business could potentially be more than just a job.

“The business is run from home, so I knew I wouldn’t need to rent an office. I already had three kayaks, so I bought some business cards and put them around town.”

A break made class and business success much more attainable. A friend, Brennan Baxter, built Watkins a website, www.colewatkinstours.com, which saved the college student about $2,000 from the initial budget. Watkins and Baxter would meet after work and class to perfect the site, which now brings plenty of traffic.

The traffic to the site has brought Watkins numerous customers that have increased his revenue. Now, he is up to six kayaks, and the business continues to thrive.

“I was not surprised at all that Cole had this kind of success,” Stachura said. “Our Hull students, they want opportunities like this.”

“The Savannah River is beautiful,” Watkins said. “I get satisfaction from people saying, ‘Wow! I didn’t know this was in our backyard the whole time!’”

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