Motivation, determination and faith are exactly what three familiar Dixie State University faces have in common as they witness their dreams becoming a reality.
Gage Miller, Mike Sheffield and Andrew Nielsen take on the real world as DSU opened opportunities through entrepreneurship. Their businesses continue to succeed, and they beam as examples to those who reach for similar goals.
Miller, a senior business major from St. George, is the founder of Land Over Yonder, a for-profit, social marketing business that is familiar to many students on DSU’s campus.
Miller is a graphic designer who creates and sells hats, T-shirts and stickers for LOY. The business donates some of the profits to young children and teens in third-world countries.
LOY’s main purpose is to provide the children and teens uniforms so they can attend school. Miller developed this idea after serving a Latter-day Saint mission to Cambodia.
“While I was over there, I fell in love with the people, but I felt like the biggest thing that was holding them back was the lack of opportunities that the youth had to receive an education,” Miller said.
While Miller attended DSU after his mission, he took business classes where the professors assigned projects that helped him create LOY and turn it into what it is now. He then realized it was possible to use it to help others in need and decided to do something to help.
“They were stuck in this cycle of poverty, [and the community wasn’t] growing,” Miller said. “That is holding not only themselves and their communities and the country back, but it is holding … the entire population back and future generations.”
LOY’s first project was in India. Miller said it was successful and helped a lot of people, but he wasn’t exactly sure where the money was going.
LOY’s next project was to Kenya, and Miller said it was extremely successful by providing sewing machines to those who needed jobs and could also make the school uniforms. LOY sent 50 people from ages 8-14 to school.
LOY’s next project will be to travel to Cambodia, and the goal is to provide 80 people with uniforms so they can attend school.
Miller said this wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the professors at DSU.
“I’ve learned more outside of school just because of the opportunities that I’ve had because the school created them for me,” Miller said. “If it wasn’t for the classes, I wouldn’t have Land Over Yonder. It set us up in a way that we were able to learn outside of the classrooms as well. We contribute a lot of our success and a lot of our growth personally, as well as the company, to Dixie.”
Miller said the advice he would give future entrepreneurs is to start with an idea they love and utilize the resources available on campus — professors are more than happy to help.
“Have an idea that you’re passionate about and you’re willing to spend time on because even if you don’t get paid, you want to do [it],” Miller said. “And don’t be afraid to dream big and be prepared to work.”
Sheffield, a senior business major from St. George, is co-founder and vice president for marketing for Outlier Magazine, as well as co-host of Outlier on Air.
Outlier helps empower startups and entrepreneurs by connecting, collaborating, mentoring and sharing experiences with others. Sheffield said Outlier has become very successful by publishing five podcasts per week through iTunes and SoundCloud that have generated more than 30,000 followers. One of Sheffield’s podcasts was also placed upon the Top 10 New and Newsworthy podcasts for eight weeks on iTunes.
“I had an opportunity to interview 50 entrepreneurs around the world,” Sheffield said. “At first I was a little intimidated … I felt a little bit of a fish out of water. I’ve come to realize that they’re no different. If they can do it, so can I. Anyone with the commitment and goal can really achieve anything. Don’t be intimidated by a title and a name. Everyone is just a normal person — just like you and [me].”
Along with the magazine and podcasts, Outlier also has an Outlier Conference Series that has previously been sold out and continues to grow. The Outlier Conference Series is a startup conference to empower individuals by providing keynote speakers and workshops led by established business leaders, investors and educators from all over the country. Outlier also provides successful Outlier Labs that provide the space for individuals to work, interview and mentor.
Sheffield said Dixie has helped him in many ways, especially through experience as student body president and through the help of his professors.
“I’ve had teachers who have taken personal interest in my success,” Sheffield said. “(I’ve had) so many teachers who have stretched out their necks to help me succeed. That is one thing that sets Dixie a part from everything.
Sheffield said the advice he would give future entrepreneurs is to believe in themselves and strive to accomplish their dreams.
“Seek fulfillment in doing the things you love,” Sheffield said. “You can build a business around the things you have a passion for and the things you love … A lot of people think in St. George they can’t become something big or great, and that’s simply not true anymore. With the technology, you can achieve anything.”
Although it was originally someone else’s idea, Nielsen, a DSU graduate and CEO of MuZicScape, has enhanced his father’s idea by turning it into a reality.
The product is called “8Scape,” which is a folder capable of holding multiple files. He said 8Scape was created because of the difficulty of keeping sheet music secure on the music stand.
“My father became frustrated with the hassles associated with using sheet music,” Nielsen said. “If his music wasn’t getting lost, it was getting bent, blown or turned wrong. He set out to solve the problem, and the result was the first prototype of 8Scape … Seeing the potential that lay within the invention, I took it upon myself to take the product from concept to reality.”
As CEO of MuZicScape, Nielsen is hoping to expand the business by continuing with the idea of 8Scape.
“I see MuZicScape expanding its product line to include more musical products in the next five years,” Nielsen said. “For starters, we will have a standard and deluxe version of 8Scape. The current 8Scape folder would be considered the deluxe option. I plan to have both of those products selling online and in music stores no later than the end of the year and most likely much sooner.”
Nielsen said the advice he would give future entrepreneurs is to step out of their comfort zone and do what needs to be done in order to achieve their goals.
“Don’t be afraid to fail,” Nielsen said. “Mitigate your risks as much as possible but accept the fact that there will always be things you may not understand or foresee. Believe in yourself, work hard and remember your vision. Get out of the building. Don’t hide behind a desk, phone or computer. Talk to people. Talk to your customers. Serve them to the best of your abilities.”