Football players? Salsa tycoons? Local political campaign strategists? Relay sprinters? Entrepreneurs? College graduates!
Since graduating from Rialto High School in 2000, the first 13 years of the 21st century for twin brothers Daniel and Darrell Peeden do not bear any resemblance to the 1,238 students set to graduate from San Bernardino Valley College on May 24, 2013.
Constantly conflicted between pursuing the dual dreams of athletic prominence and entrepreneurial efforts, Darrell’s and Daniel’s “all-in” mentality to a variety of personal and professional enterprises is only surpassed by their commitment to sticking together through it all.
Born and raised in the Inland Empire, Darrell and Daniel graduated from Rialto High School in 2000 with hopes of becoming professional athletes, but ended up taking a circuitous route that has led them to becoming the first in their family to graduate from college.
Since high school, they have spent time pursuing interests in San Diego, Florida, and here in the Inland Empire. Throughout all those ventures, their education was always part of the equation—and they faced it all together—including the associate degrees in business administration they have earned as part of the SBVC Class of 2013.
“Part of their success is that they have formed a partnership and have teamed up to work together,” said SBVC economics professor Dr. Walt Chatfield. “They are excellent students and they look so much alike that I joked with them that they could probably look at each other and shave in the morning.”
Entrepreneurial Roots Take Hold Early
“We have always been involved in some kind of business. We would start a project, then get back into football, then jump into another business and back and forth,” Darrell said. “Even though we went all over the country and changed our minds a lot, we always go 100% into something together until something changes.”
When they were young, the entrepreneurial roots took hold early as they recalled earning extra money by mowing lawns, selling candy door to door, and even setting up a lemonade stand on the corner of Merrill and Acacia Avenues in Rialto.
“Our grandfather always worked for himself and so did my dad, so we always knew we were going to be entrepreneurs,” Daniel said.
Together, they started a chips and salsa company that contracted with more than 100 customers throughout southern California, started on defense for SBVC’s conference championship winning 2010 football team, helped run political campaigns in the City of Rialto, ran sprints and relays for SBVC’s track and field team in 2011, and earned 3.7+ grade point averages as student-athletes along the way.
As they approached their 30s, the brothers recognized that time was starting to catch up with their dream of becoming professional athletes and they redoubled their efforts to focus exclusively on college.
“It was then we decided and realized that our education was the most important thing that we were doing and it needed to be 100%,” Darrell said.
Idea For New App Fetches Award At Startup Competition
As soon-to-be-serial-entrepreneurs, Daniel and Darrell look at the problems in their world and are constantly seeking solutions. One of their most recent entrepreneurial endeavors earned them a first place finish in the inaugural Riverside Startup Weekend in May 2013—a three-day high-tech startup event that attracted 60 participants and the attention of venture capitalist firm Inland Empire Tech Coast Angels.
Their idea is wrapped around a smartphone app called Fetchit that sprang out of an unlikely problem Darrell faced while working in an office place—how to make a Starbucks run without creating jealous co-workers upon your return.
The app (which is under development) can send notices to co-workers to alert them when you are at a place like Starbucks. Within 45-60 seconds, co-workers have a chance to respond with their custom latte order. To make sure the coffee courier doesn’t get stiffed for the coffee cost upon return to the office, electronic payment is made immediately upon placement of the order—along with an option to gratefully leave a tip for the person delivering drinks.
“I used to hurry up and finish my Starbucks before returning to the office so that I wouldn’t walk in with it and hear people complain about how they would have wanted something if they only knew I had been there,” Darrell shared. “When I was picking up coffee for somebody else, I got tired of not always getting paid back for picking up something for them, so we decided to add the payment and tip option.”
Based on the convergence of numerous trends (the mobile wave, the so-called “sharing economy”, apps featuring location-based technology), Daniel and Darrell believe that their idea will become a hot commodity for end users and even large-scale technology companies looking to advance their own feature sets.
“We had tried to pitch our ideas to some of these people before and never got a call back,” Daniel said. “But, now, they are very excited about us and we are scheduling meetings with investors, startup accelerators, patent attorneys, developers, and are planning to pitch it formally during the summer of 2013.”
Extending the Legacy of Education
In the fall of 2013, Daniel and Darrell will juggle the demands of Fetchit with their excitement about transferring to UC Riverside. While continuing their studies in economics, they are both interested in pursuing a doctorate degree and potentially becoming professors where they can pass along all they have learned about the critical importance of education.
“I couldn’t fathom living the rest of my life in poverty. I was tired of being in poverty and we both know that education is proven as a certain path out of poverty.” Darrell shared. “I know I’ve become smarter while I’ve been here at SBVC and my mind is growing and becoming more intelligent. It wasn’t until we got serious about our education that we realized how little we knew before.”
While at SBVC, Daniel and Darrell were shaped by the passion exhibited by economics professors Dr. James Dulgeroff and Dr. Walt Chatfield.
“Most professors at SBVC teach you in a way to open your mind---to start creating that student aspect of teaching and learning,” Daniel shared. “You’re going to take pieces of everything and find out for yourself—to learn more and form your own opinions.”
No matter the next stop on their entrepreneurial journey, Daniel and Darrell will always reserve a special appreciation for the impact that community college had on their lives.
“SBVC gives the opportunity to anybody to get ahead and do what they want to do if they want to work hard. Without a community college like SBVC, a lot of people wouldn’t have opportunities and they couldn’t continue moving on with their future,” Darrell said. “I want to help people never forget about that.”