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Student Entrepreneur Reaches for Dreams of the Sky

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Tenth-grade writer Julie develops her report with plenty of information and quotations from her subject, T. McDowell. Readers get a clear picture of McDowell’s determined business sense as well as his dreams for the future.

Student Entrepreneur Reaches for Dreams of the Sky

“You’ve got to know your own value, know what you want, and stick with it.”

That’s what T. McDowell’s advice to others is, and it’s certainly worked for him. This high school senior is currently the sole owner of Immersion Immaging, a successful company specializing in Internet commerce solutions and online financial databasing. McDowell began the company in 2012, although it was originally called 4th Dimension Graphics. Two years later, the company was reorganized as Immersion Immaging. Surprisingly, he didn’t begin the company with the assistance of any partners, but instead founded it on his own with the experience and contacts that he already had.

“It’s always been a one-person operation, and it’s going to stay that way for a while. I could easily take on partners or expand the business some more, but I want to keep it this way for now,” McDowell said. Even now, McDowell does everything himself, from marketing and management to the actual coding that he writes for his clients’ Web sites. “I remember one time that I worked for over 800 hours on one site and never really got paid for it. I’ve learned since then,” McDowell said.

Thus far, he has worked for such companies as Online Devices International, Greystone Peripherals, and Publicard, Inc. He works on Web site design along with Internet marketing solutions and other aspects of Internet commerce.

“I don’t have any lack of contracts right now. I like it because it’s flexible, so that if I need more income, I can get the business I need; and if I take a break for a while, I don’t have any problems,” McDowell said.

Spending between 30 and 60 hours a week at his business, Immersion Immaging, provides him with a steady income, although he admits that it takes up much of his free time. “A lot of the time [on the business] is spent after school and late at night, and my parents don’t really like that too much. Otherwise, though, they’re really supportive of the whole thing,” McDowell said.

Part of the reason McDowell ended up in the computer industry might be explained by the exposure he had as a child. Even as a teenager, most of his friends were older and connected to the computer industry. “Even though I’m younger than most other people in the technology business, it hasn’t mattered much. A lot of my friends throughout my life have been older than me, so I’m used to it,” McDowell said.

In his freshman year, McDowell worked at a company called PC Powercomp and familiarized himself with the business and the technical aspects of it. Having already started learning various online languages at the beginning of junior high school, McDowell was well prepared to enter this field.

“When I started out with computers, it was mainly because I didn’t have much else to do; so it was a good way to use my time, and it’s turned out to be pretty good,” McDowell said. However, he spends his free time on more than just computers. His real interest lies in aviation, which he has pursued for more than six years. As a licensed pilot, he currently owns two airplanes and has ambitions to enter the aviation field one day, probably in airplane design.

“Now I work with computers mostly because it gives me a reliable source of income. I’d really rather be in aviation, but I may keep this going so that I’ll always have it to fall back on,” McDowell said. For now, aviation is still a hobby, but if his entrepreneurial spirit and success with his business are signs of what’s to come, McDowell won’t have a problem realizing his dreams of the sky.

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