Michael Brown, a Chapman University graduate and a co-founder of modbargains.com in Fullerton, has been named Global Student Entrepreneur of 2006.
Brown, 21, was selected after two rounds of judging Friday in Chicago among 10 finalists from the United States, Canada and Sweden.
Brown's company sells parts over the Internet for modifying BMWs. Its annual sales are approaching $1 million.
Brown "definitely had the most viable business," said Matthew Stewart, a partner of Student Works Painting in Santa Ana and a judge for the finals of the competition. "He had the most mature business and biggest opportunity for growth."
Brown said he thought judges appreciated the importance that his company places on customer service.
Brown started modbargains.com as a home-based business with partner Ron Hay in 2005 during his second year in college (he graduated in three years). He attended classes from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. two days a week, answering customer e-mails until 4:30 in the morning.
That first semester was his best academically, he said. He earned all A's except for one A-minus.
The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards contest is managed by the Entrepreneurs' Organization, an international group of 6,000 or so successful entrepreneurs, and sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Financial.
Saint Louis University started the award program in 1988 to recognize student entrepreneurs who successfully manage business duties and classwork at the same time. This year's event was scheduled in connection with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Conference.
Brown made the same 20-minute presentation to two panels of judges on Friday. He woke up at 4 a.m. Pacific time to prepare, and the first went without a glitch, he said.
"But after they announced the finalists (at a luncheon attended by 2,200 student entrepreneurs), they told me I had to make the final presentation at 2:10 p.m. - and it was 2:07," he said. "In the excitement, I forgot to plug in the power cord for my laptop, so in the middle of my PowerPoint, the laptop went into hibernate mode."
When Brown was announced the global winner at a banquet Friday night, his mother "started crying and jumping up and down; they both were so excited," said Stewart, who is active in the Entrepreneurs' Organization's Orange County chapter.
Second place in the international competition went to Paul Scheiter of Saint Louis University and Hedgehog Leatherworks LLC. Third place was Michael Scissons, University of Saskatchewan in Canada and General Entertainment Corp.
Brown won $10,000 in cash and another $30,000 in Web, printing, public relations and consulting services donated by Entrepreneurs' Organization members, a mentor from the Entrepreneurs' Organization and free tuition to the group's annual Accelerator program.
Stewart said he has volunteered to be Brown's mentor. Stewart has mentored hundreds of college students who run summer house-painting businesses through his company.
Brown, who now works for modbargains.com full time, said Monday that he was running to catch up after taking the weekend off. The company recently moved to new headquarters in Fullerton.
"I had to go out and buy a $20 phone," Brown said. "Our new phone system isn't installed yet, but I gave out 500 business cards over the weekend, and we had to have some way to answer calls."
Published: Nov. 7, 2006 Updated: Aug. 21, 2013 1:17 p.m.
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