The idea for Tyler Adkins’ new business, Tuition Threads, originated when a friend dropped out of college for financial reasons.
“I knew that he has so much potential and so much he’s going to do in this world, but it really hit me hard that he wasn’t able to enjoy that college experience that so many of us are fortunate enough to get and enjoy,” said Adkins, a University of Findlay sophomore marketing major.
Adkins looked around his southern Ohio hometown of Mount Orab and saw other instances of hardship.
“I come from a small town where the financial freedom is not necessarily prevalent. I saw that problem with a lot of my friends,” said Adkins. “I did some digging and it turns out, one statistic out there says that one out of every eight college students nationwide, on average, drops out for financial reasons at some point throughout their college career. So I thought, ‘Wow. What can I do?’”
The 20-year-old decided to combine his knowledge of screen printing, which he acquired from his mom who owns a business that meets that demand, with his passions for marketing and helping others, to come up with a plan that assists students with college costs.
Launched in January, Tuition Threads contracts with colleges and universities to add school logos to apparel. A portion of the income made is donated back to the universities to fund scholarships, which are awarded to students based on criteria determined by each university.
The University of Findlay is now a client.
“We’re helping as a vendor here for the UF bookstore, and we’re breaking into colleges across Ohio,” Adkins said. “This summer was really a breakout summer for us. We’re currently working on starting to supply a Division I school in Cincinnati… and a large Division I school in the Dayton area.”
Tuition Threads employs three, excluding Adkins, who have experience with automated machinery, graphic design and other necessary skills. To meet the higher demand, recent equipment upgrade accommodates silk screening of 700 shirts per hour as opposed to the approximate 150-per-hour capacity that the company began with.
Businesses that use a portion of their profits to give back in targeted, meaningful ways is a growing trend, said Adkins. “It’s kind of a new thing that we’re seeing a lot of businesses come out with, and it’s called social entrepreneurship,” he explained.
The venture has “completely changed my life at this point,” Adkins said. He has changed his major from marketing to a tailored one that focuses on entrepreneurship, and is hoping to keep expanding Tuition Threads throughout his academic career and after he graduates.
“I’m excited about the (business) idea,” Adkins added. “I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback for it, and so I hope its one of those things that really just catches like wildfire, and enables us to make more impacts at more universities.”