Stephen Squillante, Class of 2012
Founder of "Teecil"
Why did you choose Providence College?
When I was applying to colleges, I wasn't quite sure where I wanted to go. I had learned a lot about Providence College through college fairs and also knew PC from watching college basketball. The first time I knew for sure I wanted to go to PC, though, was when I went to visit the campus. I went on a sunny spring day and the campus was full of life and just looked so beautiful. I saw all the students hanging out on the quad playing catch and having fun and just thought that this looked like the place for me. While I was on the tour, everyone that passed the tour guides said hello…the students just seemed to be so friendly and nice. I knew that this was a campus and a school that I wanted to be a part of from that point on.
What was your favorite academic experience?
One of my favorite academic experiences was having to put on a charity event for an “Organizational Theory” class. I was in a group with three other students and our project was to put on an event that would raise money for a charity. We chose Best Buddies and worked all semester to set up a fundraiser where PC students could participate in a 3 point contest against a few members of the PC basketball team. The event was a lot of hard work, but turned out to be a great success, raising over $3,000 dollars. This experience taught us a lot about working together as a team and the constant hard work and planning it takes to make an event a success.
Why do you think that Providence College is a good fit for students interested in business or entrepreneurship?
PC is a great fit for students interested in business or entrepreneurship. I was able to take a small business class during my time at Providence that helped me learn about real life situations I would face while running my business. This class helped take Teecil from an idea and basic start up to a business that is making sales and being picked up by different retail chains. The things I learned in my Small Business class helped me to apply them to real life situations and get my business rolling. PC also has a great entrepreneurship club where students can get together and talk about a business they have started, or a student who wants to start a business can go and talk to other students to see what obstacles they may have to face and overcome to get their business from concept to reality. Finally, the PC community has supported Teecil more than you can imagine, inviting me to promote my product at different tournaments and purchasing some for their use.
How has the liberal arts education you received at Providence benefited you?
The liberal arts education has benefited me because it has given me a background in a lot of areas. I can have a conversation with people about a variety of topics and feel comfortable talking about them. The liberal arts education also allowed me to take some classes that I was interested while at Providence. Instead of having a course load filled with just business classes, which could get mundane, I was able to go from a business class to a science class. This kept me sharp, allowing me to think outside the box. Instead of staying in the same mindset all day, I had to think about different topics and learn about things that weren't necessarily my major but were interesting and good to know.
If you had to sum up Providence College in one sentence, what would it be?
The time of my life.
What was your favorite non-academic experience?
My favorite non-academic experience was by far playing intramurals. It was a great way to bond with your friends, while at the same time providing a break from studying. It was great to be in a team setting while trying to reach the ultimate goal of winning an intramural championship. I was lucky to have won two of them and the memories I have from playing intramurals will last a life time.
What activities were you involved in at PC?
While at PC, I was in the beginning stages of setting up my business. I was filing the patents, trademarks, and handling other business duties that didn’t allow me to be as involved as I would have liked. I was very involved in intramurals and would play as many sports as I could each season. I also joined Friar Faithful, a group that would go to various sporting events to support the school's various athletic teams, my senior year. I was also invited to speak to classes and clubs about Teecil and answered any questions other student entrepreneurs had about starting up a business.
With your time at Providence College behind you, what lies in your future?
My long term plans for right now is to make Teecil a successful and sustainable business. After that I wouldn't mind teaching a Small Business class hopefully at Providence College one day. I would love to talk about the experiences and struggles I went through and hopefully be able to help other young entrepreneurs reach their dream of starting their own business one day. Looking back at Providence, it is like joining a family. No matter where I am, if I say I went to PC, it seems like someone has a connection to the school. PC grads like to take care of each other and a lot of doors have opened for me because of this. I learned many valuable lessons both for my business, but also for life in general. I made friends that will be my friends forever and would not trade my time at PC for anything in the world.
You’re well known around campus as the inventor of Teecil. Can you tell us a little bit about your company?
I came up with the idea of Teecil by golfing with my father. He would always have a golf tee over one ear and a pencil over his other ear. He kept on grabbing the wrong one over and over. It started to drive me insane while golfing with him so I decided to make a few Teecils for him as a joke.
When I was a sophomore at Providence, I took an introductory marketing class. At the time I was thinking about majoring in education, while the Teecil was just an idea I had but nothing more. In this marketing class, however, the professor really engaged and talked to us about different businesses that existed and how they came to be, and how each one fit a need in the market. We had to do a market research project and I decided to do mine on the golf tee market, because I always wanted to know if the Teecil could be a successful product. I found out that over 2 billion golf tees are used in the U.S. alone and that there is 100's of different types of golf tees from wooden ones, plastic ones, brush ones, etc. I then looked into the promotional product industry because I thought the Teecil would be a great giveaway and marketing tool for businesses as they can be personalized in any color with text or logo on them. This market also looked favorable for the Teecil. After doing this research I decided to approach my professor and tell him what I found out in my project and the idea of the product I had. Having a professor that was extremely invested in his students and was approachable and there to help made me feel comfortable showing the Teecil to someone other than my father for the first time. He advised me to do more research and how to protect myself from someone knocking off my product.
Without this professor I would have never gone forward with the Teecil. Having an approachable staff is one reason Providence is great for young entrepreneurs and students interested in business. Every professor I had invested some time or gave me ideas about Teecil. They all took time to see if there was any help they could give me or questions I needed answered and that someone was there to guide me.
Without the amazing faculty at PC, I would not be where I am today or most likely have a business at all. I owe everything I have today to the help and support I received while at PC. As of right now, I have made Teecil my full time job. I have gone from making every Teecil by hand in my garage to investing in a machine that can mass produce the Teecil for me. I was able to keep everything in the USA and am proud to say the Teecil is a Made in America product. I have had steady sales and am hoping to sell one million Teecils by the end of August. Although this is a high goal, I set I feel it is more than reachable because of all the help and support the PC family has given me to get my product out there and into the hands of the right people.
Providence College is the reason I have my own business. Had I gone to another school, I would not have had professors that were as approachable and supporting as the one's I had during my time at PC. The professors at Providence College want to see their students succeed and will do everything in their power to make that happen. Providence College cares about their students and it was great to attend a school where you are not just another name but someone that is cared about.
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