FSU student turns entrepreneurial dream into reality

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
January 31, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Imagine becoming your own boss, running your very own business. The idea is attractive, and it's on the rise; in the last two years, some 25 million Americans have done just that.

That dream, however, is contrasted by reality: only 40 percent of start-ups succeed.

Born on an island, surrounded by beauty but plagued by limited resources, Joshua Esnard came to Tallahassee with a dream.

"I didn't think that I would be where I am today," the St. Lucia native said. "I’d always thought that I’d work for someone, maybe the college system or for a major corporation."

As a finance major at Florida State, he learned everything about business.

"You learn about financial modeling and trading stocks," he said.

But, it wasn't until after graduation that Esnard realized he could go into business for himself with an invention he created 20 years ago.

"I started the prototype for the Cut Buddy when I was 13 years old," he said.

As a young teen, keeping up with the "new" and "now" was hard, especially with limited resources.

"My dad was cutting my hair and he's an old school Caribbean guy and he was just buzzing my hair down and I was like 'Ah, I don't think so,'" he explained. "I took it upon myself at 13 to use the shavers and clippers to try and cut my hair and I jacked my hair up."

"So, that's when I started creating these templates so that I can stop myself from going too far," he continued.

Esnard saw a need and created the Cut Buddy.

"Some of my first prototypes were made out of the most creative things. From like folders, I remember I made one from a detergent, plastic container, or a milk jug," he recalled.

After launching his product at 28, the Cut Buddy skyrocketed to an Amazon top seller.

"It's a whole process," said Michael Tentnowski, director of entrepreneurship at Tallahassee's Innovation Park.

And, it's not an easy one. He says the odds can be stacked against entrepreneurs, considering close to 40 percent of start-ups aren't successful.

"You have to find out where your strengths and weaknesses are and seek outside help," Tentnowski said.

But, Esnard got it right and now, he's in business for himself.

"The great thing about being an entrepreneur and having an invention that's being licensed, you can actually spend a lot of time now coming up with new inventions and spending time with your family," he said.

He's proving that, if you work hard, believe in your dreams and have a plan, there's no cutting your dream (or hair) too short.

Esnard's product was so popular, it made an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank, where two sharks made him offers.

His strongest role models, Esnard says, are his parents. He says they showed him day in and day out, if you fight for a dream, you can achieve it.

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