Two Rock Island teenagers are trying to set the Quad-City business world on its ear.
Zavier Clark, 19, and Sam Ferry, 18, are recent graduates of Rock Island High School. Their company, Clark Ferry Group, is only three months old. It offers consulting in the areas of audio-visual coordination and support for small businesses and a variety of IT assistance duties.
"We are very dynamic," Clark said. "We believe there are multiple ways of doing the same thing. We are always trying something different."
Ferry said over the years, the pair have received more than their share of mentoring assistance from Quad-City business people.
And they will receive additional help soon, thanks to a Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce program set to launch in November.
Ignite Quad-Cities, or iQ, is a community-wide initiative that will help entrepreneurs and small businesses owners gain access to mentors, coaches, funding opportunities. and business resources.
It is a virtual space, according to the chamber, "where small business owners, start-ups, entrepreneurs and inventors can collaborate, find local mentors, share experiences and advice and pitch ideas to potential investors, all among their peers."
Tara Barney, CEO of the chamber explains the concept: “Other communities across the country that have implemented this model have experienced a higher success rate among entrepreneurs, as well as an influx of entrepreneurs from other areas as they seek a community that has the resources and a supportive environment to start and grow their business.”
The program offers two avenues:
- The Intel-A-Start pathway will be for people who have an idea or are at the early stages of forming a business.
- The Intel-A-Build pathway will provide a model for rapid growth for small businesses.
The iQ program will include events throughout the year that will give entrepreneurs and small businesses a platform to pitch their business ideas to investors and build awareness of their operations.
For Clark and Ferry, the program offers the opportunity to build on what they have accomplished in a short period of time, based on a lifetime of learning.
They have been friends since grade school. Ferry said they managed their school's computer lab as third and fourth graders. In high school, they were involved in the orchestra program and began working on stage productions.
"Our tasks involved lighting design, live production and live sound. This opportunity allowed Zavier and me to expand our knowledge and our roles within the high school far more than we could have imagined," Ferry said.
"Zavier and I seem to have an innate sense to react. We see something that we know could be better and we just have to fix it."
Clark Ferry Group had a contract with Rock Island High School to do most of the technology for this month's homecoming celebration. Ferry said they can do design work for large-scale sound systems, with an emphasis on outdoor performance venues. The company will do assessments of sound systems for churches, businesses and venues, and then do the design work before contracting with another company to actually do the work. Ferry said the company also can implement email services, update computers and install private, offsite computer backup programs.
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"In some way, we are trying to marry IT and audio-visual," Ferry said.
Clark is a part-time student at Black Hawk College, Moline, and works full-time for an electrical company. Ferry is a full-time student at Augustana College, Rock Island, with a double major in music composition and finance while leaving the door open to possibly attending law school.
But what they know about technology, they say, can't be learned solely from a book.
"Our education came from getting out there and doing it," Ferry said.