ASU seniors find early success with start-up company
Two ASU seniors who started their own business six months ago have already begun putting their education to use in an exciting and profitable way.
Nick Jarvis and Phil Kockerbeck started Down2Mob last year, restoring and selling used dirt bikes and bike parts out of a garage, with $3,000 of their own money. Having met in a business management internship the year before, they realized their personalities meshed and they shared similar goals.
As their company took off and sales increased, the two students swallowed hard and took out a loan. Today, because of their hard work, some luck and opportunity, they’ve outgrown their garage and are getting ready to expand to a commercial shop space. Their company is already showing a 32 percent profit.
“It was the internship that pushed us into doing it,” says Kockerbeck, a communications major. “I’d always wanted to run a business, but I had to overcome my nervousness in meeting with strangers, working in a professional setting, hiring and managing employees, all that. When I got to know Nick, it was clear that we both shared similar goals.”
Having learned about the internship opportunity through a class at the W. P. Carey School of Business, they signed up to intern with College Works Painting, which counts an ASU graduate, Austin O'Donnell, as vice president. They met with clients, estimated jobs and coordinated sales, managing a crew of painters. Both say it’s one of the hardest – and the most valuable – things they’ve ever done.
Kockerbeck was inspired to sign up by John Filer, a clinical assistant professor of economics.
“Dr. Filer has a real perspective on business. He doesn’t sugarcoat things, and students benefit from that,” says Kockerbeck. “He brings in people who run companies to talk to us. The connections you get at ASU are huge.”
Jarvis, who is a management major with an entrepreneurship emphasis, also credits Sidnee Peck, ASU director of entrepreneurial initiatives, for advising them as they started their business.
“She really ‘gets’ entrepreneurship, and she tells us the practical things that we need to know,” he says. “She’s very supportive. She’s awesome.”
Jarvis, who grew up in Scottsdale, got a scholarship to attend Santa Clara University but chose ASU because he was accepted to Barrett, the Honors College. Kockerbeck attended Scottsdale Community College for two years before transferring to ASU. They say their skills and styles of handling business complement each other.
“I’m super analytical, so I do the finances, shipping, purchasing and dealing with customers overseas,” says Jarvis. “Phil is the one who does the selling, marketing and talking to customers. He’s been around dirt bikes his whole life, while a year ago I wouldn’t have had a clue about dirt bikes.”
Kockerbeck came up with the idea for Down2Mob after he broke his ankle while racing and decided to try customizing a bike, since he couldn’t ride. He discovered a demand for aftermarket and replacement parts, as well as their high retail cost, and he began selling them online.
“I wanted to save people money, providing an alternative to the high cost of parts at a shop, and giving them an affordable option to replacing a motorcycle,” says Kockerbeck. “Now we sell full bikes, as well as parts. We ship a lot of parts to Indonesia.”
O'Donnell has continued to mentor the two young men, offering them connections to other business opportunities.
Jarvis says they are seeking more funding and are thinking about expansion into California, as well as franchise opportunities. Both students plan to graduate next December.
They both ride dirt bikes now, going camping or trail riding in the desert a couple of times a month.
Where did they get the name of the company? “Mob” means “going fast,” says Kockerbeck. Ask any dirt bike racer if he’s “down to mob,” and he’ll know exactly what you mean.
For more information on their company, visit Down2Mob.com.