For Eddy Mejia, the stress of running a business is nothing compared to taking enemy fire.
Mejia, an MBA student at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, is the founder of DisplayInfinity—a startup that develops high-quality display solutions for shoes, jerseys, and more. Before venturing into the business world, however, he served as an “E5” (sergeant) in the US Army, completing tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. While serving in Afghanistan, his unit took enemy fire on multiple occasions while setting up a communications station on a remote mountaintop. The suburban Chicago-native said owning DisplayInfinity is stressful, but nothing like the threats he faced in the military.
“Nothing can affect me right now compared to when I was in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Mejia said. “The stress of being an entrepreneur is just normal to me. And I know that mentally, I’m going to be fine. People always ask why I’m always happy. It’s because I know that, in the end, everything is going to be okay. You just have to keep pushing forward.”
DisplayInfinity’s first product, ShoeBoxOne, is a clear acrylic glass case with a mirror backing and a magnetic door. ShoeBoxOne, which sells for $65, is designed for shoe collectors and is currently available at Diplomatic 1750, which has three Chicago stores. Mejia also offers a shoe display case with colorful LED lights to highlight the sneakers and a jersey wall hanger that is perfect for college students. It doesn’t require the consumer to nail holes in the wall.
Mejia said his entrepreneurial spirit comes from his father, Eduardo, a native of Colombia who has owned several businesses, including his current company: Mega Service Solutions, a cleaning and facility management company based in Florida. Mejia has raised $30,000 through numerous pitch competitions. He said being part of the Gies MBA program, which he expects to complete in 2020, accelerates his company’s growth.
“It’s helped with DisplayInfinity’s operational efficiencies, organization, and vision of where I want to take the company,” Mejia said. “The things I’m learning in class are directly relatable to the problems I have to fix with my venture, so I’m actually doing and learning simultaneously.”
Mejia also developed DisplayInfinity through the iVenture Accelerator, a program run out of Gies College of Business and open to all Illinois students. The iVenture Accelerator supports student-led startups with knowledge, funding, and access to world-class University of Illinois resources and alumni. Mejia regularly meets with faculty advisors to discuss customer acquisition techniques and enhance DisplayInfinity’s marketing and growth strategy. They also assisted him in developing a sustainable model for his future operations that retains its attractiveness to potential customers.
“At Gies and the iVenture Accelerator, it’s a community of people who understand what it’s really like in the business world,” Mejia said. “Some of the conversations I have are truly inspirational.”
Read more about Gies on our Partner Publisher page.