Growing up, the toughest problem many of us face is figuring out that ideal pathway to a successful life. Some go to school to get their degree in hopes to advance in a specific field. There are others who really don’t even know where to begin. But even after receiving a degree from a university, a study back in 2013 shows that only 27 percent of college grads end up with a job that is closely or actually related to their major. Part of that may be because the urgency of finding a job is real after the cap and gown come off. For a majority, it seems like most of the time there’s never really a clear-cut pathway to the end goal. Who’s to say that maybe there isn’t always an ideal path to begin with?
Alvin Gomes is an aspiring medical student who received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from West Virginia University. Alvin was born in Queens, NY, and raised in Wake Forest, North Carolina. In his adolescence, Alvin’s entrepreneurial career started off with a family ice cream business in 1998. He later opened his own lawn mowing/car washing business in 2005, which ended up grossing him over 8k in profit.
Around that time a family friend had reached out to Alvin, given his entrepreneurial ambitions, about an opportunity to start operating and owning a Subway franchise in NC or WV. Alvin saw this as a starting point for further expanding the entrepreneurial journey to new levels. It was during the late 2000’s when Subway’s famous $5 footlong had taken the restaurant industry by storm as well.
With all of this in mind, Alvin decided to make the leap to West Virginia and begin operating a Subway franchise. Since Alvin’s ultimate goal is to receive his degree in medicine and health, he tailors his entrepreneurial career towards his long term goals by catering to various health initiatives through his business. Alvin reaches out to local schools and educates kids about healthy alternatives to generate awareness. Since implementing this, the initiative has caught attention in the community and is now deemed as #FightChildhoodObesityWV.
On the clinical side, Alvin has traveled to various countries to work with non-profit organizations to provide free/low cost healthcare. In 2013, Alvin and a team of doctors/students traveled to Lima, Peru to provide healthcare to underprivileged communities through partnering with Medlife. That experience had a profound effect on Alvin’s vision in his business life and medical future. Since 2014, Alvin has been working to bring the Medlife organization to the country of Bangladesh, home of his parents and the third poorest country in the world.
He independently traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015 to begin ground work on finding partners and communities that would be sustainable with Medlife. Eighteen years into his entrepreneurial journey, he says he hopes to one day start his own non-profit organization to provide healthcare to war ravaged developing nations.
Alvin want’s to show people who don’t have a plan that there are alternatives out there. Though he is focused on the field of medicine, he wants others to realize that taking alternative routes doesn’t prevent you from achieving your bigger goals. Every opportunity in life can be used positively to lead you to achieve your long term goals.
You lived in North Carolina before venturing out to West Virginia to start your career. What was the biggest influence in moving states to start up your own Subway franchise?
West Virginia was more welcoming to new business owners at the time. The capital that was available to step into a franchise restaurant was more in line with starting up in West Virginia. Also, in North Carolina, having so many friends and family didn’t allow me at times to venture out and try new ideas because of the prospect of failure at a young age. So West Virginia was my outlet for taking on a challenge far greater than I ever did before to achieve something that would become one of my best life decisions thus far.
Why Subway out of any other franchise?
A family friend had introduced me to Subway at the time. I was also looking to step into owning/operating a BP gas/convenient store before getting into Subway, however, the capital required to step into a convenient store was not available at the time. Subway was also growing rapidly in the restaurant industry during the late 2000’s which made a perfect situation for me to step into, both cost and timing wise.
How are you using your franchise to help impact the local community?
Making a local impact is the driving force behind all my success in life so far. I am fortunate enough to have a platform where I can cater positive knowledge to future generations. Getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce has allowed me to speak at various events for veterans and young aspiring business leaders and share my message of hard work, drive, and faith to succeed as a young business person. I am working to provide free/low cost meals to veterans, church organizations, and schools for a healthier alternative meal. I am also involved with catering food to the Dewey McDonald Foundation (Dewey McDonald, NFL Player for the Seattle Seahawks) during their Dewey League Flag Football season over the summer and fall.
What would you say has been your biggest influence throughout your journey?
My faith has been my biggest influence throughout my journey. I have always tried to see the best in all situations and it has helped me immensely throughout my life journey. Sometimes people work hard day in and day out only to see no fruits of their labor. Luck, timing, perseverance, and faith were my key driving forces to where my journey has taken me today. Also, the support of my family and friends have grounded me throughout my journey to never forget who I am and hold strong to my core values.
What is your advice for people who are unsure of a specific career path?
Show up! I always feel that so many potentially great young leaders never max out their potentials simply because they refuse to show up. Show up to meetings, show up to events, show up to work. Always be ready to show up because it just takes one opportunity in life to change the status quo. If you simply do not show up, you are wasting that opportunity that might take years to present itself again. As for a career in the business world, I believe patience is key. Entrepreneurship is not about what you do but it’s about what you become. As for uncertainty about choosing a specific career, I believe sometimes you just have to pick a path that is the best option at the time and run with it. Never give up on it because succeeding in that field will only open more doors for future opportunities.