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When professors in Tyler Dikman’s class talk about the real-world business environment, the business management major can speak from his own experience.
The SCU sophomore knows a thing or two about business, having started a computer consulting firm when he was 15. He still runs the Tampa, Florida-based business called CoolTronics via e-mail (often from his wireless Dell laptop computer between classes), and through frequent visits to the main office. The company, which offers complete tech packages for computers, upgrades, software, and repairs, has 13 employees and last year grossed $3 million, according to Dikman.
His is a true entrepreneur’s story. He sold lemonade in his driveway when he was 5.
He told the St. Petersburg Times that at age 10, he took the money he made from performing birthday magic shows and bought stock in Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Before he could drive and during his days as a student at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Dikman started a business helping his neighbors with their computers.
When he was a high school sophomore, he formed CoolTronics. The next year, he established a partnership with Dell. The company quickly added customers and employees. But Dikman also knew that he wanted to attend college, and SCU’s Jesuit affiliation and location in the center of Silicon Valley drew him here.
Unlike computer moguls like Bill Gates, who dropped out of college to start Microsoft, Dikman finds that attending SCU is helping him learn more about the business world through contacts with his instructors, many of whom have high-tech business experience.
Chris Paisley, who is the dean’s executive professor at the Leavey School of Business, was Dikman’s accounting professor in 2003. He calls Dikman “the most interesting and unique student I’ve had.”
“He’ll go far,” says Paisley, who was formerly the chief financial officer for 3Com. “He’s got a lot of initiative.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dikman takes classes in the Leavey School of Business. During the rest of the week, he’s on a plane to and from Florida or on the phone interacting with clients for CoolTronics.
“I think the definition of college is different for every person,” Dikman says. For most students, he says, “being a student prepares you for the business world.” Dikman says he learns just as much from his classmates, figuring that if he wasn’t in college he wouldn’t interact with his peer group. On campus, he is a member of the Santa Clara Entrepreneur’s Organization, and he runs CoolTronics on Campus, which sells Dell computers at a discount to the campus community.
CoolTronics’ 500 clients are small companies with 15 or fewer employees, such as law firms, doctors, realtors, and consultants with small offices.
“We think of ourselves as the concierge of computer consultants,” Dikman says.
—Larry Sokoloff J.D. ’92 is a frequent contributor to Santa Clara Magazine.