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Profile of Student Entrepreneur: Derrick Lawson

Have you ever wondered what running a business is like in college? Derrick is a 24-year  old student at Queensborough Community College, who owns D.L.DIGITAL, a web development business. Born and raised in Queensbridge Houses in Long Island City, Derrick fell in love with technology. He now designs, codes, and modify websites layouts to function the needs of his clients specifications. He agreed to give the Communique an exclusive insight on what it is like.

Q: What is your brand and what exactly do you do?

A: My brand is D.L.DIGITAL.  Right now, I am a web development business, I am expanding in gaming  designs, I do it all, I do coding for video games and websites. On the business side, I do marketing . I’m trying to become a digital giant.  I am going to figure out exactly what to call my brand but as for right now, I do everything for your purpose – that’s the tagline D.L.Digital for your purpose.

Q: What is your major?

A: Right now I’m taking computer information systems.

Q: When you started your business. did you work alone or did you start with a group?

A: Honestly I started with a team. We called ourselves FreshBread Entertainment. Basically, this team was an entertainment company that provided people with video skits, that we would throw on YouTube. I come from Queensbridge projects, it is heavily influenced by hip-hop and Nas comes from there. So we started rapping and soon created a name for ourselves, because it was the streets and things didn’t go according to plan , there where still guys that were involved in the street life. I wasn’t trying to get involved with that, so I broke off away from them and I started to focus on things that I did. I wondered how I could use my love for technology to get big and get noticed

Q: Now that you knew you were into web designing, what obstacles did you face?

A: In the beginning nobody believed in me going off into the freelance industry and just building websites for businesses. Another obstacle I faced was that, I didn’t know how much to charge my clients. Financially, how was I going to get the money to even pay for things that I needed in order to make the sites that I made online? Now since it has been my third year doing this, my new struggles that I have been dealing with are, how I can use websites not just to display something, but how can I make it work for businesses rather than me constantly updating it?

Q: How do you balance school and your business? Whats your schedule like?

A: I had to minimize the amount of classes I was taking. When I was 22 years old, I was not happy about going to school, sometimes I felt like I was missing something and it was the fact that I wasn’t making money. Trying to go to school full-time and then trying to do the web design business full-time was not working out for me. Because I wanted to make money, I had to cut down on school hours and raise work hours.  I started taking three classes and then when I was not in school, I was at home building websites and logos.

Q: What would you say are the pros and cons of having a business.

A: I’m going to start with the con’s first. The cons are making your own money and having to put it back into the business.  Another con would be having to go out to all these places by train looking for clients because I have no car. My biggest pro is not having a boss. The only time I have a boss is when I get a client and they tell me what they want. I get to do whatever I want. I work on my own hours and set my own prices.

Q: What is something you wish you had known before starting a business.

A: Not to spend unnecessary money on stupid things when I was younger. I wish I would have taken that money and just thrown it into my business for the future.

Q: What strategies were you using when you first started your business?

A: I had to get a job, even though it wasn’t something I enjoyed doing. I was taking checks from my job and just stashing them in a Credit Union. When it comes to buying programs, I used what I had. Stuff that was online for free or on the computer I made use of it until I was able to buy programs that made my work better.

Q: What is your responsibility as a business owner now that you’re in college?

A: I have to make sure nothing I do or anybody else tarnishes my brand D.L.DIGITAL. I have to make sure my clients websites are working constantly and that they are happy with their service.

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