For some, college is a time of studying and socializing. For others it's a time to start a successful business.

Four of those companies, run by students in Utah County, placed in the top five of a contest called Utah Student 25. The rankings were based on a formula of revenue and profit.

First place went to Underwater Audio and Scott Walker and Todd Walker of BYU; second were Jason Faller and Kynan Griffin of BYU and their company Arrowstorm Entertainment LLC.

The Car Depot LLC and owner Lance Wakefield of BYU captured the third spot. UVU students Dallas Robinson and Mike Buonomo took fifth with KISSTIXX.

John Richards, president of Utah Student 25, said the competition has been around for a number of years.

"This was born out of the idea while I was working with student officers at BYU," he said. "Students carry full-time credit hours, but were running incredible companies as well. It is kind of an amazing process. I figured that across Utah there must be similar situations and thought it would be wonderful to recognize their achievements."

The Utah Student 25 is in its fourth year. It was patterned after the Inc. 500, which recognizes successful businesses throughout the nation.

"We use a formula of revenue and profit combined to determine who the winners are," Richards said. He said it is getting harder for student companies to be ranked in the competition.

"It is a little bit of a sign that the economy is doing a little better," he said. "The top three all had more revenue than any of our previous year's winners."

Richards also praised Utah County's universities.

"BYU and UVU have strong entrepreneurial programs compared to other universities in the state," he said. Not only did the local students take four of the top five positions, they captured 20 of the 25 total honors.

"These young people are part of our future," he said. "We need people to create jobs. I still get mesmerized by these young people. That is quite an achievement, if you think about it."

He noted that Underwater Audio, the top winner, has 40 employees and had more than $2 million in revenue in 2012. They sold their first waterproof iPod in July 2011.

"I swam in high school on the swim team," Scott Walker said. "I still swim for exercise." His dad was swimming for physical therapy and said it was boring being in the pool, so they decided to create a way to waterproof their iPods "from the inside out." Walker took over doing the marketing for the new company.

"I wrote the very first website that we used," he said.

"Most of our customers are older, middle-aged people who swim more than once a day -- maybe triathletes -- people who are very active and are trying to take the edge off their exercise," he said. "It also motivates people. We have lots of people who say they never could get themselves to go to the pool because they wanted to do something like listen to the next chapter in their books."

Walker is senior at BYU and a marketing major. He has used his education in marketing efforts and has brought his experience to his studies.

"I took a marketing research class last semester," he said. "We did surveys and lots of complicated analysis that I never would have done."

After graduation, he plans on working for Hewlett Packer in Corvallis, Ore. He chose that because of the opportunity to learn.

"I could go to Underwater Audio, but I accepted this position so I can learn things in a corporate setting that I can apply as an entrepreneur," he said. "I want to own my own e-commerce website. I am living the dream." More information is available at www.underwateraudio.com.

Faller and Griffin are producers at Arrowstorm Entertainment, which creates science fiction and fantasy films. Their titles are "The Shadow Cabal," "Orc Wars," "The Crown and the Dragon," "Osomobile" and "Dawn of the Dragonslayer."

Faller is a third-year MBA student. They shot four movies last year and plan on doing seven this year. They look primarily at action movies and may expand to war movies and historical dramas, but not horror films. The producers prepare the material and find creative teams to execute the actual filming.

"Being an entrepreneur is exhausting," he said. "But it is very exciting. Obviously I am doing something that I love. I feel very lucky to get to be able to do it, to find success in something I enjoy so much."

Wakefield actually owns three companies that were ranked in the top 25. In addition to The Car Depot, an auto dealership, he owns The Awful Waffle, which took eighth place, and Lighthouse Management, which came in 22nd. The three businesses together grossed $1.4 million in 2012.

He had simple words of advice for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur.

"Work hard," he said. "I don't think there is any secret formula. You have to be willing to do things that other people aren't, and to work harder." He plans on opening another dealership in Las Vegas in the summer.

KISSTIXX has received national and international attention since it came on the market two and a half years ago. Robinson said they plan on adding more flavors to their combinations of lip balm, which are designed to enhance the kissing experience.

"We are working on some really cool Christmas flavors which will be awesome," he said. Their plans include moving to a wider distribution. They have seven employees and plan to increase that, plus add to the employees at their manufacturers.

"I am absolutely glad we did it," he said. "It is really hard some days, but definitely the best thing we could be doing."

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-- Barbara Christiansen covers news in American Fork ˜ government, schools, residents, business and more.
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