Twins and Co. LLC – Joplin, Missouri

  • Published: Thursday, June 13, 2019

Twins and Co. staff photo.

What does one see when they picture a typical entrepreneur? Whether their mental image is of a twenty-something genius from Silicon Valley or the retired couple with a shop on Main Street, statistics prove that the typical business owner is somewhere in between.

Data from MIT Sloane School of Management indicates that the average business owner in the United States is in their early forties. This means the Millennials and Baby Boomers are less likely to be entrepreneurs. Younger business owners are exceedingly rare, with less than three percent of entrepreneurs under the age of 26 according to First Round Capital’s annual report, State of Startups. 

These numbers make Abigail West, Madison West, Alyssa Brown, Lauren Brown, and Ashlea Zumwalt anomalies in the business world. 

The five of them are seniors at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri and are co-owners of Twins and Co. LLC. They started the video, photography, and design business in their junior year of college.

“We started taking photos and making videos in high school,” explains Madison. “Then, in college, we started making PSA’s and promotional spots for local groups and businesses.”

In July of 2017, they were approached by an acquaintance at the Webb City Chamber of Commerce to create a promotional video for a new program at the local high school. The five of them saw the opportunity as a chance to help the community and build their portfolios. 

“It wasn’t until they offered to pay us that we realized that we could start a video and photography business,” recalls Zumwalt. “That’s when the idea for Twins and Co. was born.”

Although they knew they wanted to start a business, the five of them did not know how to begin the process. They were unsure if any resources would be available to them on a college budget.

After seeking advice, a friend suggested that they contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Missouri Southern. In late 2017, the group began meeting with Karen Bradshaw, a business consultant, who walked them through the first steps of starting their business and provided them with insight and resources to help Twins and Co. get started.

“I’m not sure what we would have done without Karen,” says Lauren. “We were uncertain of what we were doing, but she helped us through every step and reassured us along the way.”

With Bradshaw’s assistance, the five of them registered their business with the state and opened Twins and Co. in January 2018. As they approach graduation in May and December of 2019, the group of five is pleased to say that they met their first-year goals and are now helping more clients than ever.

However, the business remains a part-time operation as they finish their degrees. They hope to make it a full-time pursuit later in life and acknowledge that, for now, there are particular challenges they must overcome as both college students and business owners, especially when it comes to time constraints.

“We all work at least two other jobs and take between twelve and sixteen hours of classes each semester,” says Alyssa. “So our free time to meet with clients is very limited.”

The five of them say that managing Twins and Co. is toughest around midterms and finals week. When they are not studying or working at other jobs, they admit that most of their free time goes into working on projects for clients.

“With video production in general, filming and editing take a lot of time,” explains Madison, “so sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to sit down and finish a video.” 

They say that having a team is helpful when it comes to completing projects and that even though the process can be time-consuming, the time and effort are worthwhile. They encourage all prospective business owners, college students or otherwise, to not be disheartened by the challenges they might face.

“It’s frightening at times,” admits Abigail, “but don’t get too discouraged. Being able to do what you love as a business owner is so rewarding.”