The percentage of entrepreneurs in Gen Z has increased historically, with 62 percent of people born between 1997 and 2012 already having a business or preparing to launch one. But is it achievable, and how challenging is it really to launch a brand and business while continuing your undergraduate education at college?
Two entrepreneurs from Florida State University, Matthew Liebman and Alex Mora, have shown that starting a business while still an undergraduate is possible. Each of them has left a lasting impression on the Tallahassee community and inspired Florida State’s younger students, acting as an inspiration and role model for present and future students.
Matthew Liebman, current senior and the founder of Doggy Style Tallahassee and Rebuild Media, was born in Miami’s 305 area but spent much of his childhood in New Jersey and briefly in Michigan. He recently turned 22 and started his first company, Rebuild Media, when he was just 19 years old. Rebuild Media’s initial launch came during the COVID pandemic. Liebman was employed by Top Tier, an entertainment company that specializes in creating social media content for the nightclub and bar scene. As the pandemic caused the nightlife to shut down operations, Liebman made the decision to establish a media company where he could draw clients from a variety of industries. He reveals, “People get confused about what entrepreneurship is. Imagine you run a side business selling lollipops to your high school classmates. That’s entrepreneurship.” Now, the portfolio of Rebuild Media has significantly expanded, ranging from real estate to models.
When Liebman was just 21 years old, he and his friend, Matthew Lansburgh, decided to invest in and develop a new company, which eventually became the Doggy Style stand. The original plan was to offer pre-packaged food, but other late-night food carts were already doing it. The Doggy Style stand was created by Liebman, introducing fresh hot dogs.
Liebman has now transitioned into also owning the restaurant, Dog Et Al, a hotdog and burger joint. He shares, “Entrepreneurship is particularly fascinating in college because, for one thing, there are so many brilliant people there, whether they are studying business, engineering or medicine. To bring ideas to life, you have access to all of these resources at your disposal. I enjoy how entrepreneurship emphasizes this point a lot.” He uses Florida State’s Landis Green as an example of a location where students can test their products and how doing so is crucial to getting input from actual customers. In addition, Liebman continues, “There is no better place to fail than now, in college.”
The creator of N3W LVL, Alex Mora, concurs with Liebman’s opinions, encouraging entrepreneurship in undergraduate studies. Mora, who is from Pembroke Pines, Florida, graduated from FSU this past fall of 2022. He started N3W LVL when he was 20 years old and is now 21 years old. Mora had always loved photography and videography as a child, and he started engaging in his past interest once more when he unintentionally surrounded himself with college friends who worked in the production industry. He was motivated again by fate.
Mora managed the social media pages for various businesses and rapidly expanded their followings throughout his sophomore year of college in 2020. He used that year to concentrate on creating content for editing images and videos, then transitioned into developing and establishing N3W LVL in October of 2021. With his use of a vintage VHS camera in his videos, Mora quickly gained recognition. The Greek sorority Kappa Alpha Theta was the first to contact Mora and inquire about filming their Bid Day event, which was a factor in the rise of N3W LVL.
One of Mora’s close friends and now business partner, Sean Weeks, had experience with professional cameras, so after some discussion, he and Mora agreed to combine photography and videography methods. Noticing how well both he and Weeks had worked together creatively in the field, they formally established N3W LVL. On the Florida State University campus, Mora’s production media company started collaborating with a number of sororities, including his own fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. The content produced for the line dancing competition was also in collaboration with Mora’s company, N3W LVL, which has also started making content for the Tallahassee vintage store, Picked.
Mora made the great decision to devote himself even more after hearing the great feedback. Currently, N3W LVL produces regular content for the Picked Shop, in particular for their shirts and hats, and also shot Opaque Archives’ debut. He says, “The most important thing you need to do when beginning a business is to be fully committed to and driven by it. Your business will succeed if you genuinely believe that it will. You must always make an effort to satisfy your customers.” After graduating, Mora intends to continue his production company and may return to Miami with the goal of concentrating on expanding his portfolio with real estate and other ventures.
The extent to which passion and work ethic may lead you is demonstrated by Matthew Liebman and Alex Mora, who defy the benchmarks in our society in order to be successful entrepreneurs and creatives during college.