Kevin calls himself a “reluctant marketer.” As a lover of math, marketing just wasn’t supposed to be on the table for him … until marketing became all about math. Quantitatively understanding consumers, their behaviors, and how to influence those behaviors, allows Kevin to use his mathematical and leadership skills to oversee the data analytics team all the way to the creative and customer research marketing team.
Relatable for most juniors and seniors, and maybe even some eager freshmen and sophomores, Kevin had no idea what he wanted to do once he finished college.
For those seniors that don’t have a plan, Kevin’s a perfect example and gives great advice: find something that interests you and that you’re passionate about and find people you want to spend your time with. “That’s how decisions should be made, passion and people,” says Kevin.
Ed Van Deman ’69 graduated from Davidson with a BS and mathematics and his sights set on New York City. After working with the Matthews Center (then the Career Development Center), Ed got a job with KPMG in New York, where he met his wife of 48 years and started his career in public accounting. After a few years in New York and a few years in Chicago, working in public and corporate accounting, Ed ended up in Silicon Valley, as the CEO of Financial Navigator, managing high-profile portfolios.
Initially, Financial Navigator struggled, so much so that at one point, Ed realized, “no one, including my wife, thought we were going to succeed. Everyone thought it was a matter of time.” That’s when Ed buckled down. Instead of just targeting clients, Ed focused on getting his product produced and recommended by the Big Eight. Leaning on his liberal arts education, Ed has learned that empathy and understanding others’ motivations are the keys to good business and entrepreneurship.
“The more you understand where people are coming from and their motivations, the more you can forge relationships that are mutually beneficial to all the parties.”
Soon, Financial Navigator’s business was booming, so much so, that a company out of Mumbai, India acquired it, allowing Ed to make his return to Davidson College. Just when Ed was selling Financial Navigator, Jay Hurt began his venture of establishing a center for innovation and entrepreneurship on Davidson’s campus. Ed has jumped at the opportunity to reconnect with his alma mater and is heavily involved in the Hurt Hub’s community, serving on its advisory board, hiring students through the Gig-Hub program, and acting as a strategic advisor in many capacities.
A testament to Ed’s business procedures and leadership, after a couple of years with the new owners, many clients and employees asked Ed to return to Financial Navigator. Ed re-acquired Financial Navigator, now Forest Systems, and is currently running the business he first started. More recently, Ed has generously donated $100,000 to fund the Van Deman Innovation Lab, a brand new exciting venture in the Hurt Hub’s world.
Alejandro Solares has his hands full at Davidson and he’s only in his sophomore year. As an active member of DIFA (Davidson Investment & Financial Association) and Davidson Venture Capital, Alejandro lives up to his Economics major. Alejandro is also a member of the Varsity tennis team and currently works part-time with Grocery Shopii, a local e-commerce company.
Alejandro is one of three Gig-Hub consultants to join the Grocery Shopii team, and his work expands past just his exact role. Alejandro has gained experience reconciling bank statements with QuickBooks, completed research on potential clients and investors, paid contractors, and much more.
I sat down with Alejandro and asked him a couple of questions about his Davidson life and his journey with the Hurt Hub and beyond.
1. Starting a new job with a brand new company can be overwhelming, did you feel like you came in with the skills you use now, or were you mostly learning on the job?
I felt like I learned a lot on the job, I’d never taken an accounting class before. I’d done a few workshops, trying to teach myself a little before trying to get a job related to accounting finance, and throughout this job, I learned how to use QuickBooks. It was great because it taught me how to teach myself and that’s something you don’t really learn in classes.
2. The work and school balance can feel very overwhelming for students, can you talk a little bit about that balance and how you find it even while doing so much?
I play for the Varsity tennis team along with working, and I’m a member of DIFA and the Davidson Venture Capital club, so this year has already been really busy for me. But, I really enjoy the balance because I can put a couple of hours a week into my gig, this work-study, and learn from that.
3. What was it about the Gig-Hub program that drew you in?
The thing that I really enjoy about the Gig-Hub program is that it’s start-ups and small companies that seem to hire students, mainly. And at a start-up, I would say, you don’t only do your job. You do so many other things than your specific job or task. You learn how to build a company from the ground up.
I also think the support the Hurt Hub gives student workers makes this a job everyone on campus should want. The Hurt Hub trains you and then gets your name out there.
4. What do you do for Grocery Shopii?
I reconcile bank statements in Quickbooks, and I’ve done research on potential clients, partners, and other files. I also percent data monthly expenses to the CFO in Excel and PowerPoint. I pay contractors and execute transactions and things like that. There are around 15 people who work for Grocery Shopii and around three Gig-Hubbers. The program was working really well, so my boss hired other Gig-Hub consultants, so it’s good to see them and be with them too.
5. Any last things you want to say or that we’ve missed?
It was, and is, a great experience, mainly because of my employers. They’ve been inclusive and exposed me to a lot of different opportunities, whether that’s being in meetings, learning from them, or learning from other clients. It’s been really hands-on and you just don’t get that kind of enriching experience at a big company. They’ve been great leaders for the past year. I definitely see myself continuing to work with this great company.
We’re so incredibly proud of Sandro Chumashvili ’24, Carson Crochet ’22, and Thomas Athey ’24 for their hard work and perseverance to expand their businesses with support from the Hurt Hub@Davidson and $10,000 grants from the Avinger Impact Fund. The awards will support wine exports from the country of Georgia to the United States; “buddies” to comfort cancer patients during treatment; and educational programs related to the stock market and cryptocurrencies.
Ever tasted a Krispy Kreme doughnut and thought, I wonder who is the genius CEO behind this perfect glazed masterpiece? Wonder no more. Get a glimpse inside the mind of Krispy Kreme CEO, Mike Tattersfield, with host Jared Herr ‘22 in this bite-sized podcast. Herr and Tattersfield dive into the best practices for innovation within your business, offer advice for young people starting out their careers, and give a little insight on the possibility of Davidson gaining its own Krispy Kreme…
A Quick Overview
Mike Tattersfield began his career as an accountant and now he’s CEO of one of the most successful doughnut chains ever, Krispy Kreme. Although Mike never thought of going into the restaurant business, he’s been CEO of Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bagels and the end is nowhere in sight. Throughout his career, Mike has learned a lot about how to foster a culture of innovation with a business, and how the best companies lean into doable, innovative ideas. The importance of ensuring that the process of running a company doesn’t overtake the creative forces that make the company what it is has been an important lesson in Mike’s journey.
When asked about any advice he’d give to young people starting their careers Mike gives two strong pieces of advice. The first is a welcome reminder: “Whatever lane you do, you gotta find something you love … You don’t know what you’re going to love right away.” Exploring, traveling, and experiencing new things are going to help you find what you truly love, but it might not come to you right away. Secondly, he advises, “Wherever you are in the roles that you are, master the craft of what you’re doing.” The ability to be an expert in your skill and not always be worrying about your next career move will get you noticed by others who will then continue to push you in the direction you’re supposed to go.
Finally, we can confirm that Jared Herr and Mike align in their love of the original glazed donut. “You can’t go wrong. It’s an 84-year-old recipe. It’s automatic,” says Mike.