Extraordinary. Simply put, that’s William Helfgott’s story. As a rising junior in the Honors College, he’s not only a recipient of the Charleston Fellows scholarship; he’s also been a freshman senator in the student government association and a member of the Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community, and continues to serve as a student ambassador for the School of Business and the Honors College.
To that list, you can add Global Scholar, Market Process Scholar, Swanson Scholar and Maclean Scholar. No doubt Helfgott qualifies as an overachiever, so it should be no surprise that for the past five years, he’s also been running a profitable business – River Bluff Honey.
Student entrepreneurs participate in a holiday market in the Beatty Center.
Helfgott was 8 years old when he won a beehive in a local 4-H raffle. Over time, he learned beekeeping and eventually leveraged that interest into a business that now sells products in 19 different states. More recently, this finance and Spanish double major partnered with one of the largest beekeeping outfits in South Carolina to ensure that his business can keep up with the increasing demand it’s been experiencing.
“Busy is an understatement,” says Helfgott of managing River Bluff Honey out of his off-campus apartment whenever his academic schedule allows. “I love beekeeping. It’s really a passion of mine, and I’ll probably always be involved in it, but it’s a challenge being a full-time student and keeping the company running. For instance, I plan to be in Trujillo, Spain, studying abroad for a month this summer, so I need to make arrangements for someone to manage the business in my absence.”
Despite those challenges, Helfgott is moving full steam ahead with River Bluff Honey. He’s currently negotiating with a firm in Georgia that owns roughly 1,000 convenience stores. If that weren’t enough, he has an idea for a second business that he’d like to launch in the near term.
“I get a lot of support from mentors in the School of Business,” he says. “And I get a lot of encouragement from my fellow students. It’s great to exist in an environment like this where you have a diverse group who all value entrepreneurship so much. That’s why I joined the Founders Club. We’re a group of student business owners who bounce ideas off each other and help troubleshoot each other’s plans for startups.”
Helfgott says his next move will be getting involved in the venture capital world. Ultimately, he sees himself operating at the nexus of entrepreneurship and funding.
“One of the biggest problems for entrepreneurs is funding,” he says. “I’ve done quite a lot of research on this, and I think I’ve developed a new approach for addressing that. Entrepreneurship is definitely my passion, and working on a daily basis with entrepreneurs wouldn’t really be a job. For me, it would be a fun pursuit.”