Story by: Anna Barker, MSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach

Jonathan Williams is a freshman from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who used a knack for design to create a profitable company – all before he earned a high school diploma.

“Reale Co. is a brand that I founded as a sophomore in high school,” Williams said. “I started by designing a few t-shirts and then people actually wanted to buy them. I was literally selling them out of my locker.”

Williams’ designs sold out in less than two days.

“That’s when I learned how to create a website,” Williams said. “I expanded the brand from there, and I began to meet other people through social media who were doing the same thing.”

Through his brand, Williams was able to meet other entrepreneurs who became co-founders in a separate startup venture.

“It’s a completely separate company,” Williams said. “I handle the website and inventory. We reach most of our consumers through social media.”

The company earned over $30,000 from sales in this past month alone.

“I love the freedom that entrepreneurship gives. You have control over what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.” Williams said.

MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach played an influential role in William’s decision to join the Bulldog family.

“I was actually born in Starkville, but we moved to China when I was five years old. We returned to the States when I was in middle school,” Williams recalled. “I considered MSU because both of my parents graduated from State and I’ve always had a connection to Starkville.”

In spite of those connections, Williams was originally enrolled at Indiana University.

“Eric Hill gave me a tour of the E-Center when I came to visit and I thought it was so cool.  I loved the environment,” Williams said. “When I came to MSU I was really welcomed and it felt like home here. I didn’t even know if it was possible, but I decided to switch in June of this summer.”

Since moving to Starkville, the 18-year-old marketing major has been heavily involved with the E-Center.

“Most of the people here are older than me and can offer me a lot of mentorship,” Williams said. “I don’t really do a lot of the things that most freshmen are doing. Freshman year is obviously a huge adjustment, but having a place like the E-Center has really helped me to stay focused through all of the madness.”

Williams is continuing to pursue both of his companies while he is at MSU.

“Don’t be afraid of failing. Failure to try is much worse than actually failing,” Williams said. “You can always learn from a failure.”

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