Story by Marcus Wilkins
Even as far back as grade school, there was a method to Drew Rogers’ entrepreneurial madness. Whether rolling up his sleeves to sell Pepsi and popsicles at his parents’ garage sales or slinging pizzas for youth sports fundraisers in middle school, Rogers loved to dive in.
But it wasn’t until he enrolled at Mizzou and launched a pair of companies on campus that he learned just how closely aligned the “Drew method” and the Missouri Method really are. The latter term, coined in the J-School and now used campuswide, describes learning by doing at Mizzou.
“What you do in school is what matters, and the school you choose is really important,” says Rogers, a Ballwin, Missouri, native who graduates in May with a degree in strategic communication. “I think it’s the school’s job to provide you with an opportunity to grow.”
What Rogers does is oversee Relevant Youth, a student-run creative agency housed in the MU Student Center. As acting CEO, Rogers and company aim to eliminate barriers between Mizzou students and industry. The marketing firm provides graphic design services, social media consulting, videography and more for clients including Roo Storage and Breakout CoMo.
“For us, Relevant Youth was the answer to the question, ‘How can we give the most relevant form of education possible to students?” Rogers says. “It aims to take really talented students within their fields of interest to local businesses and ask, ‘What are the problems you’re facing, and how can we help?’ ”
Rogers’ first business venture at Mizzou came through the Missouri Student Unions Entrepreneurial Program, which gives winning applicants a small grant and a free storefront in the MU Student Center. Rogers’ business was called The Bridge, a retail space for student-made products. He and fellow St. Louisan, Blaine Thomas, a senior business major, launched it in 2017 to “empower creatives on campus.”
If you’re sensing a theme, it’s because Rogers participated in Parkway Spark, an entrepreneurial program for St. Louis-area high schoolers. It profoundly altered his trajectory.
“My product was the Plenty Pack, a plastic bag with multiple compartments targeted at parents of elementary and middle school kids,” says Rogers of his project, which never got off the ground. “I spent the whole year running in place, but it was so valuable. It taught me how competitive and fun entrepreneurship is and how built for entrepreneurship I am.”
Like any successful entrepreneur, Rogers has a zillion ideas bouncing around in his head at any given time. But one thing’s for sure; fear of failure won’t slow him down.
“A common theme in every success story is that feeling that this is going to fail,” Rogers says. “This isn’t worth this roller coaster. If I could boil everything down into a mantra, it would be: figure it out.
“Everything I’m doing right now, I’m still figuring out.”
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A dinner out while studying abroad in Ireland sparks the idea for a specialty sauces shop, now open in the MU Student Center.