At a recent internship interview, Matt Modricker was asked how he had improved a system in his past experiences.
“The questions were tailored more toward juniors and seniors,” he said.
Modricker, 19, is a sophomore at Penn State. While ambition trumps experience at this point, he could tell interviewers something different from several of his peers: He owns his own candy vending machine business.
He bought the business from a couple earlier this year. Now he has about 20 machines in the region, with most being concentrated in Bellefonte, where he grew up. He has about 20 more waiting in the wings.
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After consulting with the Penn State Small Business Development Center, Modricker’s business has grown. He’s looking to partner with the United Way and make his success sweet for others, too.
Q: What piqued your interest in being an entrepreneur?
A: I always wanted to own my own small business. That came about when I was high school. I never had a job in high school. I made my cash by going on Craigslist buying games locally and then I’d sell them on Amazon, and so I’d have a huge markup on those products. Made a lot more money than I thought doing that.
Q: It seems like early on you had an entrepreneurial bent. Is that right?
A: Yeah, I took that from my dad. He came here to Penn State and he owned his own karate business when he was in school. I think he had one downtown. He’s a civil engineer now and he had to decide if he wanted to pursue this business or be an engineer.
Q: Why a candy machine business?
A: I wanted to find something where I could get passive income. So right now, my vending machines are earning money and I’m not there. So it’s not a storefront; it’s something I can be doing while I’m still in school.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge?
A: My biggest issue right now is obtaining candy. I have to buy it through Sam’s Club. It’s harder to go through the provider like Mars or Hershey. I contacted, I’m not sure if was Mars, but they require a minimum amount of 5,000 pounds to get a discount. I actually got onto a forum for vending machine people, which I didn’t even know existed, and I wanted to ask people if this was a good deal or not. And they contacted me and told me Sam’s Club was the best place to buy it.
Q: You’re a young entrepreneur. How does that help you in interviews?
A: It’s actually a really good talking point saying I own my own business because as a sophomore, you actually don’t have a lot of experience behind you. And so everyone else has things they’ve done this past summer. But owning your own business is a really good talking point and they get interested and ask you questions about it. Personally I love it just because I want to be my own boss, but it also looks good on a resume.
Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy