Springfield Business Journal- August 2010

College graduates create jobs for themselves.  Read the full article here

Amycakes bakery shop owner Amy McGehee enjoys getting creative with her recipes.
Amycakes bakery shop owner Amy McGehee enjoys getting creative with her recipes.
Karen E. Culp, Contributing Writer
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 7:59 AM
When Nick Altrup finished his master’s degree in business administration at Drury  University in May, he was a little bit frustrated with the local job market.

But he found a solution through opening 417 Marketing LLC this summer.

“I took the … lack of opportunity here in Springfield as a sign that this was my time to start my own business,” Altrup said.

Altrup co-founded 417 Marketing, catering to small businesses, with Tim Fraticelli, who has since accepted a full-time job with another company.

Altrup combined the expertise he gained while earning a Master of Business Administration with his eight years of experience working in the corporate world, primarily in technology sales, to become an entrepreneur. The self-financed 417 Marketing is operated out of Altrup’s home and through on-site client meetings and presentations.

“I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I felt with my MBA I had the skills to do that,” he said, noting that he works with a network of providers, including Web developers and search engine optimization experts to develop clients’ marketing programs.

Altrup is not alone in his journey from student to entrepreneur. Other small-business owners who decided to jump into business for themselves after college are Chantal Drennen, owner of Gelato Mio, slated to open Aug. 20, and Amy McGehee, whose Amycakes Bakery celebrated its first anniversary this month.

Realizing a goal

Drennen finished her bachelor’s in business management and administration at Drury in 2006 and spent time working in management for a couple of different companies. She soon discovered gelato, a rich, frozen Italian dessert, and the tasty treat sparked her entrepreneurial spirit.

It also appealed to her ancestry; Drennen has a partly Italian heritage.

“Gelato reminds me of this South American ice cream I had growing up in Argentina,” she said.

With support from her husband, Andy, and other family members, Drennen found a gelato supplier, whom she declined to name, and settled on a site for a frozen treat shop, Gelato Mio, in downtown Springfield, at 207 Park Central East. Drennen leases 1,324 square feet for an undisclosed amount from the building’s owner, architect Allen Casey.

A grand opening for the store was slated for Aug. 20, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce.

While Drennen and her husband both had steady jobs when they decided to open Gelato Mio, she said they couldn’t resist the pull to have a business of their own.

“Our goal was always to own our own business and be our own bosses,” she said.

Drennen declined to disclose her startup costs, which were financed at least in part by a $25,000 loan through the city of Springfield’s Business Incentive Loan Program.

Though similar to ice cream and frozen custard, gelato has a different consistency and is richer.
The gelato Drennen serves is made with hormone-free milk and natural ingredients, she said.
She’ll also offer sorbetto, a frozen fruit-and-juice treat. Each day, the shop will have 18 varieties, starting at $3 for small servings of gelato.

Tasty opportunity
With a year of business ownership under her belt, McGehee is a veteran compared to Drennen and Altrup.

In July 2009, she acquired The Bakehouse from Barb Baker, reopening a month later as Amycakes LLC at 308 W. McDaniel St.

McGehee has a degree in arts administration from Drury, and she had been out of school for about a year before stepping into her commercial kitchen.

“I probably started baking when I was about 7 with my Easy-Bake Oven,” she said.

McGehee completed cake-decorating classes at Ozarks Technical Community College and initially operated her business by using the commercial ovens at South Avenue Pizza Co.

Though she could have taken a job baking for another company or worked in management for a food company, McGehee said she opted to the own bakery because it would give her freedom to develop her own varieties of cakes, cookies, brownies and other treats.

“I get to be really creative,” she said. “I tweak recipes all the time.

McGehee declined to disclose her self-funded startup costs or the bakery’s first-year revenues, but she said the transition to ownership worked for her because the timing was right.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do it if (Baker) hadn’t been retiring,” McGehee said. “It was just the perfect opportunity.”

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