Cashing in on Night Life; Interview with Duncan Abdelnour of Branded Lights

Original article by Michael Luchies published here on Yahoo! Voices

Using one of your passions to start a business is nothing new, but using creativity and recognizing an opportunity through your passion can turn into a recipe for success. If you are passionate about food – buying the rights to build several franchise locations may seem like a safe bet and a way to make a solid living. Although this is a great option for many, it doesn’t necessarily allow an entrepreneur to expand upon their creativity and use their passion to create a dominant advantage over what is currently offered in the marketplace.

Young entrepreneur Duncan Abdelnour is no stranger to the night life and enjoys a good time. As a young entrepreneur, he has a mindset where he is always looking for the next big thing. As he explains in the interview, a night at an electronic music concert turned into the idea for his now growing business.

Duncan was a recent competitor in the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC) Elevator Pitch Competition at the University of Tampa. The event is a regional conference of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), which hosts the National Elevator Pitch Competition each fall.

Duncan may not have won the competition, but it is clear that he is headed on the right track as a young entrepreneur. The following is an interview with him about his past as an entrepreneur, his business Branded Lights, and what is next for him and the business.


General Business Information
 Branded Lights
Founders: Duncan Abdelnour, Aaron Musicaro, Matthew Castriotta
Founded: October 2012
Funding to Date: $1000 – Personal Seed Money, Bootstrapped everything else
Description of business: A Leading Night Life Promotional Products Supplier, importer of items from LED Foam Sticks, to giant LED Inflatables with a Company’s, DJ’s, Night Club‘s, Sponsor’s logo.


Michael Luchies: What was your first experience in entrepreneurship?

Duncan Abdelnour: Founded Paint and Air Sports, when I was 14. Started by buying and selling paintball guns online, obtained wholesale and distributor accounts and started a online store.

ML: How did you get the idea for Branded Lights?

DA: I was at an electronic music concert, and noticed everyone fighting over these really cool LED Foam Light sticks, and wondered why no one was branding them with the venues, sponsors, or DJ’s logos.

ML: What struggles with the business have you had to overcome?

DA: Working with overseas suppliers, and their various mishaps such as faulty products, not getting orders shipped on time, and of course Chinese New Year, which is putting all of our production on hold for the next 3 weeks.

ML: How do you balance being an entrepreneur and a student at the same time?

DA: I schedule my classes so that I have plenty of time during the day to make calls, do emails, deal with clients etc. I started learning how to do this in high school when I would sneak off to the library to hop on the computer and do research all day on whatever venture I had at the time.

ML: What has been your best experience as an entrepreneur?

DA: Anytime you see your efforts effecting and benefiting thousands of people in a better way. When I was 18, I put on a sold out concert with the artist Sammy Adams, 850 screaming kids, and I was able to DJ for him on stage. After the show there were girls lining up to take pictures with me, which was pretty cool. Aside from the experience, we made about $16,000 that night, which was nice to.

ML: How many failures did you experience before Branded Lights? Did you ever want to give up on being an entrepreneur?

DA: One time I lost $30,000 on a concert deal gone wrong, and I definitely learned the hard way that the most important part of business is the people you do business with. There have been a few times I’ve definitely wanted to give up and just be a regular kid, but then I think about spending the rest of my life working in a cubicle and immediately change my mind.

ML: What advice do you have for young aspiring or current entrepreneurs?

DA: Find an Idea that can actually make money. I see it all the time – people pitching great ideas but they have no idea how to actually monetize them. You need to have a crystal clear picture of who your customers will be, how much are they going to pay you for your product or service, and how much its going to cost you to produce it.

Also, don’t spend all your time looking for funding. Get creative and build a business with your own capital, the only thing worse then loosing your own money, is loosing someone else’s.

ML: What is next for Branded Lights?

DA: We will be spending the majority of our Spring and Summer on the road vending at music festivals across the country such as Ultra in Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival, and a few others. We are also expanding our product line every week, offering more and more products to reach a broader customer base.

It is clear that Duncan and his partners are succeeding because of a great idea coupled with their passion for the industry that they are involved in. Thanks to Branded Lights and Duncan for the interview and good luck in the future.

Other Articles From This Author
It’s Time for DinnDinn; Interview with Foodie Favorite App Founder
What If High Schools Focused on Entrepreneurship? Part 1
What If High Schools Focused on Entrepreneurship? Part 2
Design with a Bang! Interview with Chic Shooter Founder Brandi Lynn Thomas, Student Entrepreneur
How to Create a Brand for Your Writing; Branding Tips and Advice for Freelance Journalists


Car Wash Delivery? Interview with City Sleekers’ Founder

City Sleekers Logo


Original Article Published Here by Michael Luchies


It was just another elevator pitch competition, or so I thought. The 2013 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC) had already been much better than I had expected, so why should I have been surprised at the quality of young entrepreneurs pitching their ideas and businesses in the elevator pitch competition?

The conference and competition were held at the University of Tampa. Students came from different parts of the country including Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi, and of course, Florida.

All of the pitches were fascinating, but one of the few that stuck out the most was that of City Sleekers. Maybe it was their cool bike branded in their logo and colors, or the car tire they brought with them, or maybe it was the team that all came wearing their businesses t-shirts and looked ready to compete, or possibly the fact that their business is a great idea that is sure to become a success.

Founder Nick Price and the City Sleekers team finished 3rd out of 26 competitors. After the competition I followed up with him for a short interview about the business and his entrepreneurial background.

Founders: Nick Price (22), Evan Brady (22)
Current Owners: Nick Price, Trey Summers (16)
Founded: September, 2012
Employees: 3
General Business Description: City Sleekers is a waterless, Eco-friendly, car cleaning company that comes to you. They transform every parking space into your clean car waiting to happen by coming to the customer whether you’re working, shopping or even just stopping for a sandwich.

Michael Luchies: When did you first show interest in being an entrepreneur?

Nick Price: I always have wanted to work for myself and it really kicked into gear after I took Nathan Schwagler’s Creativity in Entrepreneurship class at USFSP (University of South Florida St. Petersburg).

ML: I also got really excited about entrepreneurship from a class I took. How was your experience at the SEEC Conference?

NP: It was awesome! I had an amazing time listening to all the great speakers. UT put on a great conference, that campus is really awesome and everyone there welcomed us with open arms. SEEC was a great experience and I can’t wait for next year.

ML: How about your experience competing in SEEC’s Elevator Pitch Competition?

NP: It was nerve wracking!! I went second to last out of 26 other students, so when I finally gave my pitch in the semi finals I was so relieved! I was so impressed with all the other pitch ideas some of the other students came up with.

ML: How did you get the idea for City Sleekers?

NP: Evan thought of it for a school project and threw the idea by me, I loved it.

ML: A lot of young entrepreneurs have trouble coming up with the perfect name for their businesses, how did you come up with City Sleekers?

NP: We figured we liked our cars to look sleek and we were primarily targeting cities for traveling by bicycle. So we put the two together like PB n J.

ML: Did you have any ventures before CS? If so, have you experienced any failures and how did you learn and recover?

NP: I started a computer repair company with a friend of mine in 2009 while I was attending FGCU. It didn’t really take off around the college campus atmosphere. I have learned from failure – it was difficult to recover but trial and error is a part of starting your own business. I learned to target my audience more accurately.

ML: What is next for City Sleekers?

NP: GROW, GROW, GROW. We’re going to keep working on getting more locations, build our reputation, and help preserve our beautiful planet.

ML: What advice would you have for young entrepreneurs?

NP: Never ever give up. Keep working, don’t over think, and try and try and try again.

That is very good advice. It is important to learn from mistakes and try again. Thank you to Nick Price and City Sleekers for the interview and good luck in the future.

“People Are Dumb, Not Ideas”

Nick Peterson Photo

“People Are Dumb, Not Ideas” – Article by Michael Luchies about reality star and entrepreneur Nick Peterson. 


When I look for inspiration and someone to look up to, I always choose a reality television star. Although that was of course a joke, there is a lot that can be learned from those who have been able to captivate millions of people by putting themselves out there, even if it means embarrassing themselves and others for all to see.

Nick Peterson is not known for being a successful or innovative entrepreneur, although he is a smart and creative business owner. He is known for his ability to speak his mind and for choosing to keep $250,000 on ABC’sBachelor Pad‘ instead of sharing it with co-star Rachel Truehart in season 3.

Nick was a keynote speaker at the 2013 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC), hosted by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization‘s Chapter at the University of Tampa on February 2nd. Nick captivated the entire audience from the start of his speech by declaring that “people are dumb.” He paused before saying “people are dumb, not ideas.” The thought, although very blunt and crude, started to make sense the more he went on.

He started giving examples of products that most people would consider dumb. He would argue that the products are not dumb at all, but in certain cases, quite brilliant.

Here are some of the examples that he gave:
– Dog goggles (Doggles)
– Plastic wishbones
Pixel advertising webpage
– Network Marketing
– Antenna balls
– Silly bandz
– Pet rock

Please view the rest of the article here:  “People Are Dumb, Not Ideas” – Article by Michael Luchies about reality star and entrepreneur Nick Peterson.