Waterville (WGME) – A new institute promoting entrepreneurship at Thomas College is using recent, successful alumni to help keep students living and working in the Central Maine area.
Chris Voynik, a 2014 Thomas College graduate, is one of those alumni giving back to their campus community.
“Ever since the day I stepped on the campus, right up until today Thomas has been a huge supporter of me,” Voynik said.
Voynik started his first company while studying at Thomas College. In 2013, he started making and selling dog toys called “Wag Rags” four years ago. Today, his product is in 30 retail locations and sold on Amazon.
“If you focus that energy on what you really want to do, if you're serious about starting a business, or being your own boss, you'll find the time to do it,” Voynik said.
Now, he’s finding time to join the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College. It’s in its first full semester at the college in Waterville. Voynik is on the advisory board and will help mentor students who have a passion for business, like he does.
“He’s just a dynamo,” said Thomas College President Laurie Lachance.
Lachance says the institute aims to keep Central Maine students in the area using people like Voynik as a mentor, paid internships, and classes that teach entrepreneurship and business innovation.
“As an entrepreneur, people who have been through it before can help you more than anyone else,” said Lachance.
It’s a challenge for the entire state to keep talent local, but Voynik believes this institute will help.
“The business environment around here is something special, and I think once people start to realize that people will start staying around here more.
The 25-year-old business whiz has more in store for the area. He’s started a second company called Drone Scout, in addition to “Wag Rags” and his full-time job at the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce.