This month’s featured entrepreneur is Kayla Lokker, President of the UW-Milwaukee chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). CEO’s goal is to inform, support, and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and seek opportunity through enterprise creation. The group holds weekly meetings in the LEC on Tuesdays from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. These meetings often feature guest entrepreneurs from the Milwaukee community and beyond. At the end of each school year, the group also selects an Entrepreneur of the Year. We asked Kayla a few questions about her experiences at UWM and with CEO.
Kayla Lokker: “Hello! My name is Kayla Lokker, I’m 21 years old and a junior at UWM. I’m a general business major and additionally will be obtaining certificates in real estate and entrepreneurship. Outside of school I keep busy by being a real estate agent and a spin instructor at CycleBar!”
What projects have you been working on recently? What was the genesis/origin for the idea? Have you had any difficulties in the process?
Kayla: “Recently I have been working on scaling my real estate business but I’m also in the seed phase for my next venture. I am developing a product called a Claspy Clip which will revolutionize the way jewelry is worn. The origin for this idea came from a personal struggle that I was having when trying to clip my necklace on in the morning. The clasps on necklaces are so tiny and arduous to find sometimes, which is the worst when you’re running late. One struggle I’m facing with this is trying to find and deciding who I will need on my team to get this product to market.”
What classes have you been taking? Do any of them relate to your passions/interests?
Kayla: “This past semester I took the ‘Intro To Entrepreneurship’ class and it has been the most beneficial course I’ve taken thus far. I learned how to complete the Business Model Canvas, create a business plan, gained a better understanding of how business financials work, and so much more. The other class I’m in that relates to my passions is the ‘Intro to Real Estate Markets’ course. Our big project for that class was a broker’s opinion of value (BOV), which is an analysis or evaluation of a subject property created by a broker in order to determine the value of a piece of real estate. This was a really fun project for me because I aspire to invest in real estate in my future and knowing how to properly value a property is an important skill that I will need.”
What has your journey been like? What challenges have you had to face, and how did you overcome them?
Kayla: “I grew up in Greendale, WI and graduated high school in the midst of the 2020 pandemic. This was a pivotal time for me because I had a lot of self-realizations about what I wanted to do with my life. Covid changed the trajectory of what I thought my college years were going to look like. I was a competitive gymnast for 12 years and then cheered throughout high school. For a while I thought I was going to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and fly on their Cheer team there but when the time came to decide I chose to stay closer to home and to not cheer. Although I had fun doing it, it was not my life. I wanted to focus on my future. I’m happy that I ended up going to UWM for many reasons. One of them being that they have the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center. Going into school, I didn’t know all of the opportunities that the LEC offers to students. The first year of college was honestly really hard for me. I lived at home, was on campus maybe three times until my one in person class got moved online, and this made it difficult to make friends.
My second year of school I finally started to feel like I was in college. I moved into a house close to campus with friends, most of my classes were in person and I wanted to explore my school and get as involved as possible. One of the first things I did was participate in an elevator pitch competition that the Colligate Entrepreneurs Organization was hosting. After this experience, I finally felt like I found my place and people at school. I continued to go to meetings CEO events and wanted to immerse myself as much as possible. I think deep down I always knew that I was an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t until that year that I realized what my passions were. I now stand as the President for the club and am thankful that I got outside of my comfort zone and decided to stand up and pitch a business idea two years ago. I didn’t think it would lead me to where I am today.”
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned on your path?
Kayla: “I’ve learned so much over the past few years not only about myself but about other people and the world that we’re all living in. One mantra that I’ve lived by for as long as I can remember is “Everything Happens For A Reason”. I believe there is a lesson to be learned in everything that happens to us. The people that are in our lives are there for a reason. These events and interactions put us on the path that we are destined for. Sometimes things happen that we don’t want to, but they do because there’s something better for us out there. In the end the hard times are the most important because they make us stronger. I’m working on living more in the present and being grateful for where I’m at because another thing that I’ve learned is time really does go by so fast. I’m still very young but I get caught up about what’s going to happen in the future, and I need to be better at enjoying the process and living in the now.”
Do you have any ideas/projects that you would like to work on going forward?
Kayla: “My mind is constantly thinking about what is next, but what I’m working on right now is growing my real estate business by planting seeds through getting leads and meeting as many people in the industry as I can. I somehow found time to start another project where I am developing a new product. I’m working on creating a prototype as well as building my team so we can get this product out there to help make people’s lives just a bit easier while they’re getting ready in the morning.”
If you are interested in learning more about Kayla , she can be found leading the weekly CEO meetings at the LEC. To learn more about a recent UWM alum and last year’s CEO Entrepreneur of the Year, click here.