The opportunity of a (young) lifetime
Taking a chance on a dream
For many, the COVID-19 pandemic seems like the worst possible time to start a business. But for Kevin Bauman (expected graduation date Dec. ’21), it brought the chance to fulfill a lifelong ambition.
“Since I was a kid, my dream has been to own my own business,” says Bauman, who purchased the Duluth-based mosquito and tick control company Pink Mosquito last summer at the offset of the nation-wide lockdown.
Bauman had been preparing for this opportunity for much of his life, even as a young teen when he worked several odd-jobs and gigs, saving his money and learning everything he could about business. Then one day, fate struck when his uncle, after hearing glowing reviews of Pink Mosquito from Bauman himself, emailed the company asking if they could come to his property out in Rochester. Instead, Bauman’s uncle learned that the business was up for sale.
“I contacted the owner [Shana Jokinen], and had multiple meetings […] and then I bought it,” Bauman said as if it were all a simple chain of events. “My friends and family were nervous,” he said, “but I just decided for myself, ‘I’m going to do this.’ If it failed, then I would learn from my failures.”
But as Bauman notes, “So far, it’s succeeding.”
A major part of this is perhaps not only having a solid product that works (and that he hopes to someday begin manufacturing and selling in-store) but also being able to give attention to all potential customers.
“I stay on the phone with customers; they’re not talking to a guy who just wants to make money.” This is working for Bauman, and he notes that many of his customers are inviting him to 4th of July celebrations and other functions, “That they’re inviting me into their community is an amazing feeling.”
Support from St. Scholastica and more
From St. Scholastica, Bauman says he has appreciated the faculty taking time to guide him along his journey, “Faculty have been available to help. I’ve had a very difficult time with marketing, and my professor was willing to sit down outside of hours to help me.” He specifically found it helpful that some professors actually own their own businesses, “So they can give real-world experience and tips.”
Bauman also has an incredible professional support system outside of campus in his mentors Denny Krenner and Tommy Mayer, the former being a longtime client from Kevin’s lawn trimming days as a kid, and the latter the nephew of Krenner. “Tom taught me to learn a story about every one of your customers,” Bauman said, “and I can tell you a story of every single one of my several hundred customers.”
But even with an on-campus network and off-campus support system, there were things left for Bauman to do on his own.
“Someone telling you how to do something is totally different than actually doing it yourself,” Bauman says, “but I would not change a thing. I know my ads and services and approaches are working.”
Give Pink Mosquito a call for your tick and mosquito control needs: 218-343-7822.