By the time he graduates from UNC, Brent Comstock (BSBA ’17) will have nearly a decade of experience as a successful entrepreneur under his belt.
How is that possible, you may ask?
Comstock has a knack for seeing – and seizing – a good opportunity. And that’s precisely how he wound up starting his company, BCom Solutions, LLC, when he was just 12 years old.
Comstock grew up in a small town in rural Nebraska, where the community was more focused on and skilled in agriculture than technology. As a youngster, he happily assisted family and friends with basic computer support. The more he helped, the more requests he received. He began doing research online, determined to not only build on his existing knowledge but also to become an expert.
“I’m the kind of person that once I put my hands on something, I won’t let it go until I master it,” he says.
Initially, Comstock accepted cookies as payment – until the day someone asked how much he charged. That’s when everything clicked. Comstock realized he had a legitimate business opportunity on his hands and formally founded BCom Solutions before he’d even set foot in high school.
The company – which Comstock calls a “small bootstraps tech startup” – took off and has been growing rapidly ever since. Today, BCom Solutions provides creative technology services, support, branding and digital marketing to more than 500 businesses and organizations around the country.
“I have been blessed with the ability to be outgoing, and this has been crucial to our expansion,” says Comstock. “I’ve acquired clients in just about every scenario – airports, classes, parties, you name it. I’m always looking for new opportunities to help out people that I know can benefit from our expertise.”
Having found success early on, Comstock debated whether to attend college. After being named a Robertson Scholar, he chose to attend UNC and was accepted to the Business School through the Assured Admissions Program – an opportunity too good to pass up. “For four years, I get to interact with people at the top of their fields and industries,” he says. “It’s an investment opportunity.”
The transition to college wasn’t easy. Attending school 1,200 miles away meant Comstock had to relinquish some control of his company to trusted team members, though he’s somewhat able to run things remotely from Chapel Hill. Balancing the duties of both a student and a business owner has created some unusual dilemmas – such as having to choose between missing a midterm or losing a client. And of course, there’s a big difference living in a town of 3,300 people compared to attending a school with more than 18,000 undergrads.
Although Comstock may sometimes feel like a small fish in a big pond, his experience at UNC Kenan-Flagler has been quite the opposite. “You can get one-on-one mentorship in a class of 400 – you just have to reach out and ask for guidance,” he says. “The only obstacle is yourself.”
And Comstock is just as eager to pay it forward. He hopes that sharing his story will inspire others to explore rural entrepreneurship opportunities. Comstock delivered a special talk on innovation to an audience of alumni during Reunion Weekend 2015 – the sole student to speak alongside UNC faculty.
He also hopes to help pave the way for other innovative students to follow in his footsteps. “I want to use my experience to help students and connect them with opportunities from the moment they walk in the door,” says Comstock.