Alumni Continue Growing Business After DECA
One year after Andrew Jacob and Andre Najmolhoda won first place in DECA’s Entrepreneurship – Growing Your Own Business event at the 2013 International Career Development Conference, they continue to make gains in the belt and fashion industries while also attending school.
Founded in 2012 in West Bloomfield, Mich., OverTheFly is a fashion accessory company that sells the stylish, eco-friendly Astro Belt in 20 different colors of interchangeable belts and buckles. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Andrew about OverTheFly and his involvement in DECA.
Andrew described his DECA experience as, “incredible,” and praises the value DECA has brought him and his business, saying,
“DECA gave me the foundation to communicate with people in a professionally setting. Whenever I go into a business meeting for OverTheFly, I am confident and professional, and these skills were developed through participating in DECA role-plays.”
This ability to communicate confidently and professionally has been an essential part of OverTheFly’s growth this past year. One specific highlight demonstrating the co-founders’ savvy communication skills occurred this past spring.
OverTheFly was one of seven businesses to participate in MTank, the University of Michigan’s version of Shark Tank, where Andrew and Andre pitched their business to five hard-nosed venture capitalists. OverTheFly belts, in addition being available online at OverTheFly.com, are now sold in 17 retailers nationwide. The belts have been featured in popular publications and websites such as Teen Vogue, MY TV20, and Fab.com. During the year, Andrew and Andre moved the business’s headquarters to TechArb, a student startup accelerator at University of Michigan.
All the while, they have maintained a sense of community and giving. Just like DECA fundraises for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, OverTheFly makes donations to several organizations including Detroit Public Schools and the World Wildlife Fund. When asked about the charitable aspect of the business, Andrew replied, “[the community] supported us when we first started our company and we feel honored that we can give our support back to them.”
Looking ahead, Andrew hopes to see OverTheFly as a leader in fashion products and be a globally recognized brand. Neither Andrew nor Andre has forgotten the impact DECA has made on them.
For more on OverTheFly and their story, please visit OverTheFly.com.
Follow Jacob on Twitter @JacobDerry.