Chamber of Commerce education luncheon

Daniel Wendt, a Denham Springs High graduate; Chamber of Commerce scholarship awardee; and business owner discusses what it takes to succeed in business, and in college.

Chamber of Commerce education luncheon

Thirteen Livingston Parish students were awarded scholarships by the Parish's Chamber of Commerce. They are, front (from left): Miranda Talley (Springfield); Katie Miranda (Albany); Ava Borskey (Maurepas); Alexandra Albin (Denham Springs); Mia Tranchina (French Settlement); and Graceyn Stratton (Denham Springs). At top (from left): Alyssa Blount (Holden); Madelyn Bernard (Walker); Landon Pettigrew (Albany); Jessica Frazier (Denham Springs); Peyton Watson (Denham Springs); Julia Desmarias (Denham Springs); and Max Brown (Denham Springs).

DENHAM SPRINGS – Get involved. Meet people. Tell the truth if something goes wrong. But do something you like.

Those suggestions apply to both college students and business entrepreneurs, according to Daniel Wendt, chief financial officer and director of marketing for Tonal Innovation.

Wendt offered those tips to the 13 recipients of the Chamber of Commerce’s scholarships at the annual Education in Livingston Parish event on Wednesday. Wendt was the recipient of a Chamber scholarship in 2012 and a graduate of Denham Springs High School.

“I had some great teachers, and some are here today,” he said, launching a whimsical story of his college-to-business-world days.

He then asked parents how many found out about the event without being told by their child. Hands went up.

“Kids tell your parents what you are doing in life,” Wendt said.

Receiving the academic scholarships were:

  • Albany High: Landon Pettigrew and Katie Miranda.
  • Denham Springs High: Alexandria Albin, Max Brown, Julia Demarias, Jessica Frazier and Peyton Watson.
  • Holden High: Alyssa Blount.
  • Maurepas High: Ava Borskey.
  • Springfield High: Miranda Talley.

Receiving the Career & Technical Award were:

  • Mia Tranchina, of French Settlement High
  • Madelyn Bernard, of Walker High.

Receiving the Ability Beyond Award was:

  • Graceyn Stratton of Denham Springs High.

As for advice for post-high school life, Wendt told them “I can help you there. I went to college twice.”

Wendt earned his undergraduate degree in finance from LSU in 2016, followed by a master’s degree in 2018. He narrowed his college choices to LSU and Hillsdale College in Michigan, a 30,000-plus student campus vs. a 1,400-student campus.

Then one weekend in April, Wendt said he got the proposed bill from Hillsdale and at graduation he announced he was going to LSU.

“It doesn’t matter what you do, as a student it is important for you to get involved,” he said.

“I love adjunct professors,” Wendt said. “They are usually from the field they teach; they have experience in that field.”

Wendt was the LSU Tiger Band drum major from 2015-17, visiting all of the stadiums of SEC opponents, other major cities and even marching in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ireland in 2013.

One day at rehearsal, some band members were using a tiny piece of paper with the notes. Someone took a cellphone photo of the music but had no way to attach it to an instrument.

This inspired his best friend to invent a device to hold a cellphone.

His best friend started the business without him, Wendt admitted, but came to him to seek help to develop a business plan and presentation for an SEC symposium.

Their device took fourth place and Wendt said he found his calling.

After finding an investor in 2016, they began marketing their devices to college bands, he said. Some college bands were eliminating paper to cut expenses, and the cellphone approach fell in place.

Wendt said he learned about such items as an inventory tax, reseller certificate, occupational license tax and how to find a lawyer who knew about patents.

His five tips for entrepreneurs:

  • Take a tax course.
  • Take principles of accounting.
  • Make connections.
  • If you fail, tell the truth.
  • Don’t go cheap.

“Pick whatever you love and do it to the best of your ability,” Wendt said.

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