Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

UT student's startup named one of 'coolest' in country

TAMPA — Imagine partying like a rock star, traveling abroad, and running a business that made six figures in its first year.

Duncan Abdelnour is living the dream.

Abdelnour, a senior at the University of Tampa's Sykes College of Business, started Beatmerch, an electronic music merchandising company that recently was named one of the Coolest College Startups by Inc. Magazine for 2014.

"It was definitely an honor, and it feels really good to bring some recognition to University of Tampa and the Tampa Bay community as a whole, because there's not a lot of businesses that get big recognition that are startups in Tampa," he said. "So it's nice to kind of put us on the map."

The company started last spring and officially launched in October 2013. It counts among its clients Hardwell, Nicky Romero, Paul van Dyk, Don Diablo, Spinnin Records, Protocol Recordings and Club Space Miami. It grossed $126,000 last year for a net profit of $45,000, and Abdelnour said he plans to double those profits this year.

"We're able to travel all over the world," he said. "We get to party with and hang out with some of the biggest, pretty much, artists in contemporary music today. These are guys that have No. 1 radio hits, and we're hanging out on stage with them."

The company helps touring electronic music DJs delegate all of their merchandising needs to one company. The main focus so far has been setting up "merchandise stores," which they call them instead of booths.

Beatmerch partners with Hitmaster Graphics, a promotional products company in Tampa that screen prints T-shirts, embroiders hats and produces other products for clients. The company is buying an RV for tours to musical festivals this summer.

An e-commerce platform for artists to sell their merchandise is in development, which the company hopes to launch in mid May. The next phase is creative licensing agreements for artists and brands.

Abdelnour said the key to his success has been "a lot of sleepless nights and a tireless work ethic." That, along with "a couple of partners that really helped out as well, pulled their weight, and it's pretty much just doing whatever our clients need us to do, making sure things get done right and on time."

Alexa Blackburn handles West Coast operations. Kevin O'Connell and Aaron Musicaro, who assist in artist relations and tour merchandising, are also Abdelnour's roommates.

The recognition by Inc. Magazine came "after internal deliberations which involved comparing and contrasting about 100 startups across the U.S.," Diana Ransom, articles editor, said in a statement. "With revenue of $126,000 in his first year of business, Abdelnour hasn't just found success at a young age, he's established a company with an impressive following and clients who include world-famous DJs."

Two years ago, Inc. Magazine named BetterBoo, a startup of former UT student government president Nick Chmura, one of 19 of the Coolest College Startups for 2012.

Abdelnour said balancing the needs of his business and being a student, especially when about half of the business is traveling, has been a challenge. But his professors have been flexible.

"People that have that entrepreneurial mind-set when they look at the world, they see opportunities, and I think that's the way he is," said Rebecca White, director of the University of Tampa Entrepreneurship Center. "It's that mind-set that he has — that way of looking at the world, which is something we try to nurture — that allowed him to be out there, and it's he who saw the pieces and put it together into a profitable business."

Before Beatmerch, Abdelnour started a promotions company called Synergy Events, which dealt mostly with college nightlife events, along with a promotional products company called Branded Lights.

"That kind of all transitioned into my love of electronic music, which I saw that there was a huge need for artists, especially European artists that we mostly deal with, to have a North American-based merchandising company that specialized and could focus on their needs, and that's how Beatmerch was born," he said.

Abdelnour, who is from Somers, N.Y., started his first business at age 14, selling online paintball accessories.

"He received his first NYS Business Tax I.D. at the tender age of 14," his mother, Maureen, recalled. "I drove him to the state offices in White Plains and will never forget my pride of his initiative as I watched him filling out the required forms while standing on his tiptoes."

Both of his parents are also entrepreneurs, and his grandfather was one also.

Duncan's father, Doug, says: "Mostly I just reiterate the basics: Be yourself, be honest, be professional and maintain your integrity."

Comments
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen could not be reached Monday for comment. City officials said he has submitted plans for rem...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hernando Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD: Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill was the recipient of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals that have prevented the occurrence...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian before fleeing the scene on Sunday night.Police say the driver struck an unidentified woman near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida Aquarium continues coral restoration research in Cuba

Florida Aquarium continues coral restoration research in Cuba

At the current rate of restoration work, some estimate it will be 550 years before certain types of coral are removed from the endangered species list."I don’t know if that timeline works for you," Scott Graves, director of the Florida Aquarium’s Cen...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

Man caught in rip current, drowns off Lido Beach

A man who was swimming off Lido Beach got caught in a rip current and drowned Sunday night.According to the Sarasota Police Department, the unidentified man was swimming with a woman near Big Pass, a boater channel, around 10 p.m. before becoming cau...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

Child, 1, killed in single-car crash in Ruskin

RUSKIN — A 1-year-old child was killed Sunday night and four family members were hospitalized when their vehicle overturned into a ditch.Deputies, responding to the scene after receiving several 911 calls around 6:30 p.m., located the overturned vehi...
Updated: 2 hours ago