Toothmaker Takes Title

Sam Ballard claims Student Entrepreneur of the Year

PROVO, Utah – Mar 16, 2016 – A volleyball club for teenagers, a recycling system for apartments and a children’s book subscription service were just some of the successful ventures presented by Brigham Young University students at the Student Entrepreneur of the Year competition. But it was Sam Ballard and his company’s excellence in the teeth business that led the pre-management student to being named this year’s top student entrepreneur.

“I couldn't be more grateful and excited,” Ballard says. “It's humbling to know that all I do and who I become from here will reflect on BYU and the Marriott School of Management. I feel privileged to take on such a tremendous responsibility and honor.”

Sponsored by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the Student Entrepreneur of the Year competition was hosted by Provo mayor John Curtis and judged by a panel of successful entrepreneurs from across the state of Utah.

Ballard, a native of Hopetown, Bahamas, impressed the panel enough to earn $10,000 and first place for his efforts to build up Hopetown Dental Lab. Ballard began the lab in 2011 by casting tooth restorations by himself in order to fund his church mission. Five years later, including time away from the company as a missionary in California, Ballard’s company has shown the industry is far removed from the days of George Washington’s ivory dentures. Using CAD CAM systems and state-of-the-art materials, Ballard and his brother, Josh, have pushed Hopetown to a projected revenue of $1.3 million this year.

“Professors and mentors at BYU such as Nick Greer, Ralph Little, Daniel Judd and Stephen Liddle have been so supportive and encouraging to me while I pursue both education and business at the same time,” Ballard says. “Each of them and many others have taught me and changed my life in such important ways. I know I have already become a better learner, manager and leader because of them and their examples.”

Though Ballard claimed the title, there was stiff competition. Other successful entrepreneurs at the event included Kylee Middleton, a family life senior from Draper, Utah, for her clothing company, Piper & Scoot. Middleton placed second and won $4,000. Third place went to Kip Hacking, an electrical engineering senior from Langley, Wash., for his photography and videography equipment company, Capture Beyond Limits. Five other finalists earned $500 including Dylan Higginson, an accounting senior from Huntington Beach, Calif., who won an extra $1,000 audience choice award for his clothing company, Mako Brand.

“They take the education and skills they gain in the classroom and launch products and services within their discipline,” says James Endicott, Rollins Center founder and eClub advisor. “This is exactly what we teach in the entrepreneurship program. The eClub and the Student Entrepreneur of the Year competition are designed to not only find the best entrepreneurs on campus but also to help other students see that they can do the same thing.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Sam Ballard claimed the 2016 Student Entrepreneur of the Year title
Tooth manufacturing at Hopetown Dental Lab

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Jordan Christiansen