High school entrepreneurs head off to college

High school entrepreneurs head off to college
The Happy Hounds crew of Chris Prattos, Jesse Evans and their employee, Micah Conrad with Maggie.

Come August, when Jesse Evans and Chris Prattos head off to college, San Marco dog owners may be hard pressed to find a pet sitter.

Evans and Prattos are Miramar neighbors who became entrepreneurs after founding Happy Hounds Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Service, when they were in eighth grade. On the cusp of heading to college out of state, they hope to hand off their lucrative business to other interested students in their neighborhood.

“Chris and I plan to interview neighborhood kids and hopefully they can start to do it themselves,” said Evans, noting he and Prattos will run the program this summer and may continue to keep a hand in it, albeit from a distance, after they go to college.

“It’s bittersweet for Chris and I. We need to move on to the next phase of our lives, but we want the business to continue so other kids in the neighborhood can earn money and learn about running a business as we have,” Evans said.

A graduate of Stanton High School’s International Baccalaureate program, Evans will attend Washington and Lee University in Virginia, where he has received the prestigious Johnson Scholarship, a full-ride worth more than $250,000. The scholarship covers four years’ worth of tuition, housing, fees, food, and books as well as a $7,000 per year stipend to cover summer experiences, said Evans, who will hike part of the Appalachian Trail with other incoming Washington and Lee freshmen in August.

At Stanton, Evans was a member the National Honor Society as well as national honor societies in Spanish, Math, Film, and Science. He was a member of the varsity cross country and track teams for two years and also an Eagle Scout in Southside United Methodist Church’s Troop 35. In college, he plans to major in business with a minor in environmental studies.

“Getting the scholarship has taken a great weight off my shoulders and my parents,” he said. “I’m so grateful I don’t have to worry about future financial burden.”

Meanwhile Prattos, a 2016 graduate of Bishop Kenny, will attend Notre Dame where he plans to double major either in finance and chemical engineering or energy studies and computational engineering. At Bishop Kenny, Prattos ran cross country and track for four years and was the captain of the cross country team his senior year. A member of the National Honor Society, as well as the Spanish Honor Society, he served as a volunteer leader for HandsOn Jacksonville, where he was on the youth leadership council. In addition to walking dogs with Happy Hounds, he is also a counselor at Hope Haven this summer.

It was through a love of running that Happy Hounds came to be. While in eighth grade at Landon Middle School, Evans was jogging through the streets in Miramar when his neighbor, Suzanne Honeycutt, flagged him down. “Mrs. Honeycutt waved her hand at me and asked if I wanted to make some money. She wanted me to run with her dog,” Evans explained.

Soon exercising the Honeycutt’s pooch became a regular thing. After discussing his new job with Prattos, a Landon classmate, the duo decided to go into business. They borrowed $50 from Evans’ father to make business cards to distribute around the neighborhood and Happy Hounds was born.

Currently Happy Hounds has five regular clients and up to 30 residents in the neighborhood who call for dog-sitting services, Evans said. Over the past four years, in addition to sports and school work, the boys have spent an average of two to four hours a day as well as nights and weekends building their business, which often employs other friends, he said.

As the boys go on to study business in college, their entrepreneurial experience is a strong foundation to build on, said Evans. “Happy Hounds has given Chris and me the opportunity to learn about business hands on,” he said. “We both love being entrepreneurs, and we both want to continue to be our own bosses and to conceive and grow other successful businesses one day.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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