From Running Back to Entrepreneur
Will M., ’19, left his hometown near New Orleans after receiving a Kent State University athletics scholarship. He found success as a running back for the Golden Flashes and ended his senior season with a win at the Frisco Bowl in December 2019. He scored a touchdown during the game and helped lead Kent State to victory over Utah State, clinching the first-ever bowl game win in program history.
Like many student-athletes, Will’s talents aren’t confined to the field. His work ethic and abilities helped him make the most of his time at Kent State – on the gridiron and in the classroom.
But, being more than 1,000 miles away from home, Will started missing his family and their Cajun cooking. He reached out to his parents for recipes to make jambalaya, gumbo and bread pudding and started cooking for himself, his teammates and his friends. Pretty soon, the entrepreneurship major found an opportunity to transform his passion for cooking into a business.
During his junior year, Will harnessed that same dedication he exhibited in his athletic endeavors and channeled them into a 32-page business plan for a New Orleans-themed restaurant as part of his New Venture Creations class.
A fellow classmate, Zack M., also saw the potential for such a business in Kent, after sampling the food Will brought to complement his business plan’s presentation. The two became business partners and began looking for opportunities to build awareness of the business and raise funds to purchase a food truck.
After several successful pop-up experiences and winning second prize in a competition, the two were able to purchase a food truck and fully launch Southern Comfort Kitchen.
“Kent State has opened doors of opportunity for me not only as a student-athlete, but as an entrepreneur,” Will said. “Without this scholarship from Kent State, Southern Comfort Kitchen would not be possible. Not only did I further my athletic career, I got the opportunity to start my own business before graduating college.”
Will graduated with his degree from Kent State University, and his food truck business has already enjoyed great success. He hopes to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in the future.