Not many second-year college students can say they are successfully running their own business, but marketing major/entrepreneurship minor David Butcher is one of the few. Though he comes from a small village about an hour outside of Columbus called Yellow Springs, he easily transitioned into the large community at Ohio State. He chose to attend the university because of its community, strong business school, and worldwide alumni network—all important factors for a young entrepreneur.
Butcher enjoys trying new foods, watching crime and sci-fi movies, going on nature walks, longboarding, and driving with no particular destination. He still takes immense pride in his hometown, a small but unique community that taught him that differences are something to celebrate. Now attending one of the largest universities in the nation, he has found a similarly tight-knit community with Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship Scholars (ICE), which he calls "a home within a home."
Butcher recalls that ICE Scholars gave him a starting point for involvement here. With seemingly infinite resources and only a few years to take advantage of them, it was difficult to know where to begin as a freshman. He notes that his Scholars coordinator has provided guidance for how to navigate all the opportunities. In addition to his involvement with Scholars, Butcher also serves as Vice President of Membership for Business Builders Club. He strongly encourages all students to come check out a meeting, especially those looking for more ways to get involved with entrepreneurship.
Butcher has come up with many small business ideas over the past few years, but one in particular resonated with him. It's not hard to find fast casual restaurants in places like Columbus, but it is almost impossible to find good fast-casual barbecue with a family cookout atmosphere. That's where Flyby Barbecue comes in. Butcher notes that the company is unique for two main reasons. First, they only use all-natural locally sources ingredients and focus solely on making the best quality sandwiches. The menu keeps it simple because customers said that having a good sandwich was more important to them than having a lot of other items available. (However, Flyby does offer options for vegans and vegetarians.) Second, the atmosphere is different from the stereotypical BBQ place. "It doesn't feel dark, dirty or 'man-cavey,'" Butcher says. "It's open, airy, and communal. It feels like home."
The idea for Flyby BBQ won several business competitions on campus. This helped Butcher gain the funds and publicity he needed to get the company started. Though it is still growing, they already have a food truck and an online store featuring sauces from cities across the country including Kansas City, South Carolina, Florida, and—of course—Ohio. Butcher is currently preparing to open a full-scale fast-casual location in Columbus this summer.
Right now, Butcher helps with just about everything the company does, whether it's preparing catering orders, managing supplier relations, or doing the dishes. As the business grows, he will be able to fill a more specialized role. He says, "My favorite thing—and what I am best at—is focusing on strategy and growth, making sure that we are constantly evolving to the market and doing what is best for the customer." He admits that these are large responsibilities to balance with being in school, but he tries to devote at least two days each week to working on the business. Yes, this occasionally means missing class—but he adds that he is able to keep up with coursework as long as he puts in some late nights and pays extra attention when he is in class. "If something is important enough, you make time," he explains.
Flyby BBQ is important to more people than just its founder, though. Butcher recalls that recently he spoke to a woman from Texas who tried some of their food. An avid barbecue lover, she said that Flyby was the only barbecue she'd found in Ohio that tasted as good as what she used to have back home. He considers this one of his proudest moments with the company.
One of the items on Butcher's bucket list is to build a nationally recognizable branch, and so far it seems like Flyby has lots of potential. Not all of his goals have to do with building a business, though. In the future, he also hopes to build a tiny house in addition to meeting Elon Musk, giving a TED talk, travelling to Croatia, and petting a moose.
by Christina Szuch, Student Staff Writer