Recent University of St. Thomas graduate Ben Anderson, who started two successful businesses as a college student, has won $5,000 in state and regional student entrepreneurship competitions and an opportunity to compete in a global student entrepreneurs’ competition this fall.
Last month Anderson received the Minnesota Collegiate Entrepreneur Award and was named Great Lakes Regional Collegiate Entrepreneur by the Anderson Entrepreneurial Center, a St. Cloud-based organization that promotes entrepreneurial excellence in the central Minnesota business community. (And no, he’s not related to the family for whom the center is named.)
Both awards were sponsored by Freeze.com, a St. Cloud-based Internet marketing company.
Nine other Minnesota students – from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, and the College of St. Scholastica – were among other competitors for this year’s state awards.
Anderson started Cinemotion Studios, a video production company, with meager savings and little equipment out of his student apartment in 2001. Cinemotion produced high-quality wedding videos. In little more than four years, Cinemotion experienced sales growth of 1,300 percent, now leases an office on St. Paul’s University Avenue and is expanding into the automotive and real-estate markets.
Cinemotion already claims some firsts: first local wedding video company to offer slow-motion “highlight” video recaps for its customers and first company in the nation to provide a bridal video guide through a partnership with Twin Cities Bridal in 2005. It now is considered among the top producers in the Twin Cities wedding video market, according to Alan Mattanda of Anderson Entrepreneurial Center. Anderson’s success led to a 2005 Pentair Prize and a $5,000 scholarship from the St. Thomas College of Business and recognition by Twin Cities Business Monthly, which called him a “high potential” entrepreneur.
Anderson’s newest business is Cinemotion’s new division, AutoMotion, which offers an innovative, video-based marketing tool for auto dealerships. The new company’s products include DVD brochures and mailers, video reviews on new cars and “virtual test drives” for auto buyers.
Dr. Alec Johnson, assistant professor of entrepreneurship in the St. Thomas College of Business, lauded Anderson’s entrepreneurial qualities: “He is a problem solver and doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. He shows a willingness to reinvent himself, and that’s an impressive quality to have at this stage in his career.”
Anderson looks forward to competing in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s annual Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Financial, Nov. 2-4 in Chicago. Student entrepreneurs from the United States and Canada, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia, will vie for a grand prize of $10,000 and $3,000 prizes for innovation and social impact.
Should Anderson win the grand prize, he’ll be the second St. Thomas student so honored. Joe Keeley, a 2003 UST alumnus and founder of the College Nannies and Tutors franchise, won the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards’ grand prize in 2003.