Swimmer may be ready to test business waters

Swimmer may be ready to test business waters

Between churning laps in a swimming season in which he achieved honorable mention All-America status in two events, Tyler Kimbrell found time to update a business proposal he started in high school.

The result was that the Albion College sophomore was rewarded as one of six winners of the Michigan Colleges Alliance Independent Innovators Network Scholarship.

"A buddy and I created an app called Selfie and Save," Kimbrell, a member of the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management, said. "It's a win-win for both parties where the business gets visibility and the user receives a discount in return."

Kimbrell said he and Riley Griffis, now a programming and business student at Eastern Michigan University, initially developed the app when they were juniors in high school. Kimbrell pitched the idea to businesses in his hometown of Milan, Mich., however he did not have the network to sell businesses on the idea.

With the conversations he's had in his first three semesters in college, Kimbrell may be in position to start reach out to determine if there is a market for the idea after all.

"When I first applied for the scholarship, it was a shot in the dark and I thought it might help fund my education here," Kimbrell said. "The more I thought about it I can see where it may be easier to start something like this in a small town like Milan or Albion because we know the business owners and maybe they would be willing to help if they get something in return.

"Receiving the scholarship gave the idea a second wind and start talking to more people who can help," he added. "I met Riley for lunch and we'll see if we can get this back on track. My outlook is broader now and I have more people I can ask for help. I've met so many more people since I've been here at Albion. I've learned how to reach out to people, even if I don't know them."

While he has an accounting internship lined up this summer with Caster Concepts, a manufacturing business in Albion, Kimbrell said he is considering changing the direction of his major from accounting to something else under the economics and management umbrella.

Kimbrell also said his swimming career received a second wind from his performance in the NCAA Division III Championship in March. He's anxious to develop his skills during the offseason after finishing 12th in the 200-yard breaststroke and with the 400 medley relay team.

And he was the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champion in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and 200 medley relay events in February.

"It was cool to go (to the NCAA Championship) and realize I'm part of the group of the top competitors," Kimbrell said. "It gave me more of a drive to work out this summer. Last year, I didn't swim until I got back on campus. I need to stay in the pool regularly so it's not so much of a shock, not like I'm starting from day one when I get back.

"I don't know if there is a ceiling for me," he added. "I set high goals for myself, and I create a new one as soon as I achieve one goal. I got to the national championship, set my best time in the 200 breaststroke and I still didn't make top eight. I want to get an All-American award really bad. It adds fuel to the fire and keeps my drive going."