BYU grad one step closer to winning $20,000 at entrepreneur competition

Daniel McConkie shakes hands with a board member of the Utah Entrepreneurs’ Organization after advancing from the regional Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition. (Shaun Ritchie)

Recent BYU grad Daniel McConkie will compete in the national round of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition in March, after winning the regional competition a few weeks ago.

The winner of the national competition will compete against students from around the globe in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 10–12 for a chance to win $20,000, donated business products and services, the chance to receive mentoring from Entrepreneurs’ Organization members around the world and more.

“(McConkie) is a phenomenal student entrepreneur and he has shown a keen business savvy,” said Jeff Brown, Associate Director of The Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at BYU.

Twenty-five-year old Daniel McConkie, originally from Colorado Springs, CO, co-founded H.M. Cole, a custom-design clothing company that specializes in suits and formal wear, in 2011 after returning home from serving an LDS mission in Thailand.

“I got back from my mission and I was studying medicine,” McConkie said. “I thought, ‘This is going to be a long road. If I’m not excited about the course work now, there is no way I am going to be able to push myself through four years of medical school after.”

McConkie decided to drop his science classes and sign up for a few business classes.

“I loved the economics, the accounting, the finance, I loved everything,” McConkie said. “Because I had spent quite a bit of time studying medicine, I felt like the students my age in business were a little bit ahead. I thought to myself, ‘One way to catch up and get some real experience is to start my own business.'”

And start a business he did. McConkie’s experience serving in Thailand inspired him to start a company manufacturing and selling custom suits.

“At the time I was looking for an opportunity to do with business,” McConkie said. “I thought, ‘Maybe this is a little thing that I can do for the next year or two, make a buck and learn a few things, then I’ll go and get a real job.'”

McConkie and his brother started the company with a few other friends who were interested in business as well.

“I flew back to Thailand and started walking from factory to factory asking questions and eventually found someone who was willing to work with us,” McConkie said. “Then we just started selling. We didn’t know anything in the beginning. We grew completely organically.”

McConkie said that a few important elements have made their business successful.

“We don’t hold any inventory and everything is custom made. We own and control our own manufacturing and as a result, we are very much involved in operations and in producing the product as opposed to strictly being a sales company,” McConkie said. “That has given us an edge.”

After taking first place last year in the Utah Student 25 Awards Program (a program designed to recognize the top 25 student entrepreneurs in the state), Brown encouraged McConkie to apply for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards competition.

“What gave Daniel an edge (in the competition) was his clarity and passion,” said Shaun Ritchie, a board member of the Utah Entrepreneurs Organization. “He embodies business.”

Ritchie encouraged students with entrepreneurial spirit to recognize and move forward with their passion as people like Daniel have done.

“If you have a passion for something it will shine through,” Ritchie said. “If you have a unique advantage, skill set, or relationship in any aspect, there is some part of you that is different than anyone else. If you leverage that, you can find ways to be successful.”

Ritchie has proudly watched as numerous student entrepreneurs from Utah in previous years have performed exceedingly well, including the 2013 and 2012 global winners Spencer Quinn of FiberFix (BYU), Chelsea Sloan of Uptown Cheapskate (University of Utah), and Garrett Gee of (BYU), who recently sold his business to Snapchat for $54 million.

McConkie said he is thrilled to compete on a national level, but beyond that, he is excited to move forward with his vision for H.M. Cole.

“As we look to the future, within 2 years time we will have a software that anyone in the U.S. can use and a platform through which any customer can purchase through us,” McConkie said. “We will own and operate a much bigger factory, and be able to touch people all over the United States.”

The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards National Competition will be held on March 2–3 in Miami, FL and the global finals will be hosted in Bangkok, Thailand on May 10–12.

“We look forward to having him compete,” Brown said. “We think he can compete extremely well on the national and hopefully international level.”

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