Down to Business

DATE: Monday, April 29, 2019

HCC students win Grinspoon awards

HCC student Eric Grigoryan with HCC president Christina Royal

Eric Grigoryan's dad put a camera in his son's hand when the boy was about 5 years old.

By 8, the young Grigoryan was helping his dad, a professional photographer, at weekend weddings.  

Dad let his son fly solo when Eric was just a freshman in high school.    

"When I did my first wedding it was so stressful," Grigoryan said. "My dad kinda pushed me. He was like, 'if you mess up this video, I'm refunding the couple, but if you nail this, I'm gonna start taking you to work with me.'"  

He nailed it.  

Now 19, the Westfield resident runs his own videography business, GrigCinema, inspired by his father's, GrigPhoto. He has already won numerous awards for his work from organizations including the Future Business Leaders of America, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Hampden County District Attorney's Office.  

Now he can add another, a Spirit Award from the Harold Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative.    

A second semester business administration student at Holyoke Community College, Grigoryan received $1,000 for GrigCinema, plus another $500 for his table-top display and presentation at the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative awards banquet April 24 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke.  

He was one of two HCC students recognized this year with Spirit Awards for their businesses. The other was 20-year-old Tim Zych, of Belchertown, owner of Hampshire County Hot Rods, who received $1,200.  

"We specialize in the sale of investment grade classic cars, from '30s street rods and '50s cruisers to some of the hottest muscle cars of the '60s and '70s," Zych said at the awards banquet, giving his elevator pitch to visitors who stopped by his table-top display. "We're experts in the restoration of classic cars of all makes and models."  

What sets Hampshire County Hot Rods apart? Zych is happy to tell you.  

"We're different from other auto builders in the industry cause what they want you to do is buy a car and bring it to them," Zych said. "They're going to restore it and charge you a service fee. It's going to be a lot of time, a lot of money and a lot of headache. We cut all that out because we own all our own inventory. We buy cars from all over the country. We restore them and we sell a finished product to the consumer. I can tell you this: The cars we sell are better than when they rolled off the showroom floor."  

Like Grigoryan, Zych was inspired by family history. His great-grandfather was a diesel mechanic, his grandfather a passionate care enthusiast and his father, his business partner, a autobody technician and collision repair specialist.  

"I grew up surrounded by classic cars," said Zych, who is studying entrepreneurship at HCC. "I've learned everything I know from my dad. I developed a real heavy passion for these classics. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do career-wise and I thought, why not leverage my passion for classic cars into a business that I could enjoy and be really successful at."

Zych said he plans to use the Grinspoon award money to upgrade some shop equipment and get a dealer's license that will allow him to expand his inventory.  

"My ultimate goal is to have a brick and mortar dealership where customers can come in and have that experience of being surrounded by these beautiful cars in a showroom," he said.  

Grigoryan, meanwhile, said he plans to invest his award money in education, enrolling in master classes online to learn more about filmmaking composition and lighting and perhaps buying some lighting equipment, "basically to take my business a step further."  

The Grinspoon award judges were not the only ones impressed by these two young entrepreneurs.  

"I'm really very proud," said HCC president Christina Royal, one of many HCC guests at the Grinspoon banquet. "They're polished, they have very good elevator pitches, their displays are inviting and aesthetically beautiful and they have great concepts," she said. "Both of them have very interesting businesses, and they're already successful."  

HCC student Robert Clark also received $100 for winning HCC's Elevator Pitch competition and representing the college at the awards banquet with his business idea for Ergiture, furniture kits with interchangeable components.  

PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Thumbnail) HCC student Tim Zych, of Belchertown, owner of Hampshire County Hot Rods, poses with HCC president Christina Royal and the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Initiative awards banquet April 24. (Above) Zych and HCC student Eric Grigoryan, of Westfield, owner of GrigCinema, here with President Royal at the Grinspoon banquet, both won Spirit Awards for their respective businesses.