UVU Students Turn Class Project Into Thriving Local Business

As part of their Engaged Learning initiative, Utah Valley University’s curriculum often incorporates projects that students could likely be hired to do in a professional setting. That hands-­on learning experience was taken even a step further for four classmates after a presentation they completed last December as part of a school assignment. Six months and many sleepless nights later, this unlikely team of UVU students has turned their homework into a thriving local startup marketing firm. Komodo Integrated Marketing Communications, or Komodo IMC, is officially open for business.

Beginning in December 2013, Chase Adams, Derek Cohen, Neal Ferrell, and Wyatt Semanek laid the groundwork for Komodo to become an official business entity that helps companies handle all things marketing, advertising, and public relations related.

The quartet met while working in assigned groups for their Social Media Marketing class. “The four of us were grouped together and asked to create a marketing plan for a local company,” said Adams, Komodo’s Creative Director. “Our team not only exceeded the expectations of our client with the plan we presented, but we realized that this group had the potential to do great things. We kinda just clicked.”

Why Komodo? “The name was born as a result of a brainstorming session we had one day,” remarked Semanek, Komodo’s Director of Public Relations. “We were jokingly shouting out words with the ‘com’ sound that could be paired with ‘communications’ and when I shouted out Komodo dragon, everyone started laughing. Later we revisited it and decided that Komodo was a really nice fit.”

Partners Adams and Ferrell are in the process of finishing their degrees in Marketing from UVU, while Cohen is set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing at the end of this semester, and Semanek graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations last December. All four partners bring unique skills to the team and work together to accomplish their client’s marketing goals. With collective work experience as content writers, sales reps, marketing consultants, social media directors, and PR specialists, the partners bring a wealth of industry knowledge into their newly­founded firm.

As the end of spring semester draws near and most students are preparing for summer vacation, Komodo IMC is showing no signs of slowing down. “Things are happening really quickly, much faster than I think any of us anticipated,” said Adams. “We just purchased an office space and are beginning to meet with clients there, it’s exciting to see how everything is coming together.”

While they’ve only been working together a short few months, they have taken ample opportunities to showcase their abilities and have proven their worth both collectively and individually. Three of the four partners took a first place finish in the 2014 American Marketing Association Case Competition at UVU with the help of Blake McClary, and Ferrell took first place in a national AMA Marketing Strategy competition in New Orleans, representing UVU with pride and beating out top marketing schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Komodo vertical final

In addition to collegiate competitions, Komodo is also gaining traction in the business world. They have worked with multiple Utah Valley businesses both big and small, and are applying the skills they gained in the classrooms of UVU to professional settings.

“We have had great success thus far, and we attribute that in large part to the professors and faculty of UVU who have pushed us to work hard and accomplish something,” said Ferrell, Komodo’s Director of Operations. As a soon-­to­-be alumnus of UVU, Cohen had powerful words to say about his experience as a student. “There are professors here at UVU who have changed my life. They have inspired me to be more hardworking than I’ve ever been before and I think I speak for all of Komodo when I say we’re grateful for the school and faculty here.”

Professor Paige Gardiner, who taught their Social Media Marketing Class where they worked together for the first time, is proud of what they’ve accomplished. “As a faculty member at UVU, I have watched this group of students perform in classes and in case competitions. Their level of innovation, creativity, and marketing strategy is as good as anything companies contract for at real-­world advertising firms,” said Gardiner. “They are the hardest working students I know, and with their varied backgrounds in digital analytics, account management, marketing, and PR, I expect great things from their start­up company.”

Komodo IMC is a local marketing firm that offers specific skill sets to handle all business needs pertaining to marketing, advertising, and public relations. With its extensive menu of services offering special event coordination, ad campaigns, media relations, and various other valuable marketing tactics, Komodo IMC is a one­stop shop to help businesses reach their target audiences.

For additional information, please visit www.komodoimc.com

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