Four years of living in Isla Vista just isn’t enough for some people, as a number of UCSB graduates and one fourth-year student have opened their own businesses in town within the last year.
Besides having the popular sushi eatery CaliRoll Express change hands over to UCSB alumus Brian Yoo, two other businesses have recently formed. Brian Saso, a fourth-year business economics major, owns My Party Card, a discount card that can be used in many restaurants and stores in I.V. Meanwhile, Curtis Miller and Aaron Pickering are UCSB graduates who stayed in Santa Barbara after college to open their own landscaping service, Green Coast Lawn Services.
My Party Card provides discounts at I.V. food joints such as Fresh Wok, Pita Pit, Mr. Pickles Sandwich Shop, Isla Vista Spot, Super Cuca’s, Keg N’ Bottle Market, and Sam’s To Go. Saso said there are two different cards – one for food, and one for alcohol.
“I always wanted to do my own business, and then last December a year ago, one of my friends showed me a website for a card like this they had in Berkeley,” Saso said.
Saso said he thought the card would be a great service to offer to UCSB students in I.V. He collaborated with local restaurants, and then began advertising and created a website for the business, Mypartycard.com.
This past fall quarter, Saso said, he devoted a significant amount of time to starting up the business, which he runs by himself.
“Starting it up was a full time thing, but this quarter it’s not too much work,” Saso said. “There have been ups and downs. It’s difficult at times and good at times – it’s been an experience.”
As for Green Coast Lawn Services, UCSB alums Curtis Miller and Aaron Pickering, who graduated last spring, opened their new business in September 2006.
Miller said he and Pickering were not enjoying their post-graduation jobs, so they decided to open an outdoor business.
“Aaron had a lot of previous experience with landscaping, and we were tired of doing our regular corporate jobs,” he said.
The two work together and use their different talents to run their business efficiently, Miller said. While Miller works behind the scenes on advertising, loans, running the bank account and buying equipment, Pickering does the actual lawn work.
“Being able to have a partner and having someone else to work with helps you a lot,” Miller said.
The most challenging aspects of running a small business are advertising and dealing with finances, Miller said.
“The biggest difficulty is trying to cut down on costs and finding additional customers,” he said. “That’s basic with all businesses.”
Even though it is difficult in the beginning, Miller said he believes that the potential rewards of owning a business are immense.
“The rewards are the hopes of being able to one day support yourself solely on your own business, and having financial freedom,” he said.
To potential entrepreneurs, Miller said his advice is to get organized in order to accomplish a goal.
“Set up a plan. Once you get an idea just go with it and follow it up,” he said.