Name: Alexander Smith
Major: Finance and Professional Selling
Hometown: Jupiter, FL
Relationship Status: Currently Single, Incognito, You’ll never really know
Name: Benjamin Frost
Year: Recently graduated and now a Tallahassee Local
Hometown: Coral Springs, FL
Relationship Status: Married to the Money
Courtesy: Alex Smith and Ben Frost
What happens when Tallahassee’s business mogul and supermodel link up? The newest and hottest phone case comes to life! EmojiCase is your next phone case purchase and here’s what these two business men have to say about it!
Her Campus (HC): What is EmojiCase?
Alex Smith (AS): To keep it as simple as possible, it is a high quality phone case that is built with impact technology along with Emojis that are 3D printed into the phone case itself. It is an expressive design where people can pick a case with an Emoji that really correlates with their personality.
HC: How did the idea come up?
Ben Frost (BF): I read an article about a couple of guys who came up with Emoji Masks and they invested $3,000 in the idea and they turned around and got a $60,000 profit on it. I went and told Alex one night at happy hour when we were stuck together working late, within 30 seconds his eyes lit up and said “Yeah lets do it!”
HC: How did you two to become partners?
BF: Honestly, it was just luck. We worked together at Clyde’s, before that we were really just acquaintances. It’s not like we hung out with each other or partied together. However, I knew that he had that business mentality and was a hard worker. It’s funny cause a lot of people have asked me, “Why Alex?” “Why did you choose him?” and honestly it’s because he puts the work in, the fact that the next day he was in Stroz with me for 12 hours really showed his dedication. People don’t really understand how much time and dedication you really need to sacrifice so for him to show that from the get-go assured me I had chosen the right person.
AS: I already knew he ran Frostees, so he already had that business credibility. I also knew he wouldn’t go out too often so I knew he was focused on his goals, there isn’t a lot of people in Tallahassee that are really driven and thinking about the future rather than just the moment.
HC: How do you balance each other out?
BF: That’s the funny thing because it’s a combination of both. There’s times where I’ll get off track with what I’m doing with Frostees and such, and there’s times where Alex will get off track. It’s all very give and take, it’s crazy cause it’s almost like a marriage, you just have to work with the person and realize what they’re going through and what they’re doing. It’s not personal at the end of the day, if I have to get on him about something, he understands that it’s for the better, its not because I’m trying to attack him personally.
AS: I would say we both do bring similar things to the table, but at the same time he brings the graphic side and that designer mentality. He has that eye for physical appearance and what looks good. I reassure it or decline it. In the beginning, I would always have this to-do list mindset and I would heckle him that by the end of the night we would have to have at least “x” amount of things crossed off. Until we would do that I wouldn’t let him leave my place.
HC: What has made this process rigorous and challenging?
AS: Dealing with different manufacturers, trying to find which one was perfect for us. The language barrier too, was difficult. We spent most of our days in the Smart Rooms in Stroz, I wouldn’t even be doing schoolwork.
BF: Late nights of putting in the work. It was probably like 2 or 3 in the morning and we were working because there’s a 12-hour time difference between China and us. We would be on Skype meetings with this lady trying to figure out what manufacturers to use and if we could trust them. It’s a pretty big investment to trust with somebody who could just steal your money overseas.
HC: Where do you each find your support and motivation?
AS: Definitely through our fraternities, that’s one of the biggest things I think people don’t realize once they join an organization like this. It can have such a positive impact on your future through the support because these guys don’t want to see you fail. I’ve brought up everything to my brothers on our fraternity wall from the design, the logo and the placement of the Emoji on the case; so they can give their opinion. At the end of the day, we don’t want it to be something biased we want the input from our potential consumer.
BF: I agree with Alex, I think that’s the beauty of being in Tallahassee. There’s no better place to be than in the atmosphere of all these college students. Whatever comes out of Florida State is trendy and other schools want to catch on to it. So if you can build something here and it catches on here, it can eventually catch on anywhere throughout the nation and even the world. That’s the biggest thing, getting support from the community and the connections we’ve made here.
HC: How have you been able to balance your personal lives, school and other activities?
BF: That’s one of the difficult things we’re experiencing right now. When we first started EmojiCase, it was the summer time and business was slow and Alex wasn’t really taking any classes. Now that it’s fall, things have really picked up so it’s all about that work balance. It’s about figuring out if I need to put some more work into EmojiCase today, then I need to wake up a couple hours earlier or going to sleep a couple hours later. Right now we’ve been pretty lucky because we’ve had people do some work for us. We had someone approach a cell phone network and distributor and they have become interested. So we’ve had various people put in work for us because they want to see us succeed and that’s beautiful.
AS: Definitely, like he said with school, in the summer time it was a lot easier. The differences I’m making for myself is that I don’t go out as much anymore, I try to go to bed early. I’ve been going to bed and waking up at 7 every morning but I’ve come to realize that that’s not even enough so I’ll probably have to start waking up at 5 a.m. to be able to keep up with all of the attributes of my life. Sometimes it sucks because you’re missing out on everything that everyone else gets to indulge in but it’s about keeping your priorities in line.
HC: What is your opinion on the success of your company and product thus far?
BF: For me, personally, I don’t even think we’ve scratched the surface with EmojiCase. We’re just now feeling out the market and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I don’t think we’re anywhere close to where we can be. There’s so much more potential for expanding, like recently we’ve opened up to Amazon and that’s a whole different global market that we’re in the process of taking over.
AS: I agree, we’re just now getting it all together. The thing with this is that we’re learning as we go. The process is rather slow because we’re teaching ourselves and really keeping in mind what’s best for our company. Rather than wholesaling our products to someone and have them sell for us, we chose to decline their offer, although it could’ve been immediate income and profit, we chose to do it all ourselves because it will benefit our future more.
HC: EmojiCase plans for the future?
AS: I think we have a bright future, I definitely don’t want to stick to just phone cases. Once we have the capital I think we can expand with personal customization and laptop cases, company logos etc.
BF: Ideally, we want to get into a big brand retailer. Expand and sell, Emoji’s are hot and everyone uses and loves them so we need to take advantage of the market.
HC: Lets get a little more personal, did you always know you wanted to start your own company?
AS: Yeah, I always knew I wanted to start my own company. I didn’t expect to start one now, but my goal has always been to graduate and start my own company. I didn’t know what company but definitely my own. I’ve always wanted to work for myself. I never wanted to work for someone else’s dreams and improve their dreams.
BF: With me, I guess I never really had the entrepreneurial mindset. I did have crazy goals for myself as a kid but, I think the biggest thing with me was being at a point in time in my life where I had $25 in my bank account and my parents couldn’t transfer me money because the economy was so bad. I started my business out of necessity and it just blossomed from there. There was a turning point for me where I started Frostees and I was young, I didn’t really know what I was getting into and there came a point where I just wanted to give it up. My grandfather passed away and the last thing he said to me was “Never give up on your business” and I think for me that was the moment I decided I would never work for somebody else I’m going to blaze my own path and do this on my own.
HC: Who is someone you look up to?
AS: I look up to a lot of entrepreneurs such as Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban and Daymond John. They’re all killers, they know what the want when they go out into the market and they don’t settle for anything less. I read Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, some of the things he says and instills has changed my perspective on a lot of things. Seeing how these people have grown and improved their lives, it is great to grow on that.
BF: For me, there isn’t necessarily one person I look up to. I study a lot of people and if you look up all of these great entrepreneurs you’ll find a pattern with all of them. Things like recovering from failure have all led them to the point of success in which they’re at now.
HC: What are some of your favorite quotes?
AS: “How great am I? That’s right; I have wrestled with an alligator. I have tussled with a whale. I have handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail. That’s bad. Only last week I murdered a rock; injured a stone; hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean I make medicine sick…. Fast, fast, fast, last night I cut the light off in the bedroom, hit the switch and hit the bed before the room was dark.
BF: “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers but above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”
HC: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start his or her own company?
AS: I think the first thing I would say to you is, sacrifice. You can’t be doing what all your friends are doing, you’re not going to be doing what you used to be doing as far as partying and taking it easy.
BF: I would say, take a look around and see what everyone else is doing, and do the opposite. It’s usually working hard, not caring what anyone else thinks and having ridiculously crazy goals.
Don’t sleep on these two, they plan on bringing you exciting things in the near future! Their plans for a special project will shed light and motivation to all those who aspire to one day own their own businesses and in general be successful.
Ben and Alex would like everyone to know that they value your opinion and would love your feedback as far as what you want to see in EmojiCase!