'Youngest Tycoon' Adding a UConn
Education to His Accomplishments
March 6, 2000
Freshman Evan Metropoulos' lifestyle is a combination of MTV and Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
He commutes to the Stamford campus in a huge Humvee. He hangs out with big-name wrestlers and rockers and jets around the world to conduct business deals. He was running the entire marketing department of BumbleBee Tuna and other companies at age 16. Not bad for a fellow, who, at the ripe old age of 18, wants to get as much as he can from the college experience.
Speaking of MTV, Metropoulos was featured last week in the cable network's True Life series. The show, which will be repeated, was titled: True Life: I'm the Youngest Tycoon in the World. He's also appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, CNN, and in Seventeen magazine, and is scheduled to star in future MTV shows.
His celebrity emerges from his outgoing personality and his work in marketing and public relations for C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., a Connecticut-based company owned by his father. That company, in turn, manages International Home Foods Inc., a New York Stock Exchange company based in Parsippany, N.J. IHP brands include Chef Boyardee prepared foods, Bumble Bee canned seafood, PAM cooking spray, Polaner fruit spreads and spices, Gulden's mustard and Crunch 'n Munch glazed popcorn.
Metropoulos has worked out sponsorship deals for such programs as Howard Stern and the World Wrestling Federation. In fact, he arranged a multi-million dollar deal with the WWF to market Chef Boyardee products.
During his last two years of high school, Metropoulos combined classes and work. "I was able to go to school from 7 to 11:30 a.m.," he says, "and then I'd go to the office until 8 p.m."
"I started working in corporate society when I was 16," he said. "I had a few ideas that took off."
One of them was taking samples of Gulden's mustard to film production companies and convincing them to place the product in movie sets. Just after that, he brought in Bumblebee tuna and Gulden's as sponsors of Howard Stern.
That was a side of life that his father didn't encourage a 16-year-old son to undertake.
Metropoulos says his father "believes in total education before you go into business. So it was hard to convince him to let me do this."
So Metropoulos worked with Robert Sperry, an executive vice president: "He's the one who helped me prove myself to my father."
Metropoulos, now in his second semester at UConn in Stamford, appreciates the fact that the campus is close to his work - just 12 minutes from the office.
But he says the main reason he chose to study at the Stamford campus was the encouragement he received from Sharon White, assistant to the dean of students in Stamford: "She was the defining factor in why I chose UConn. She has been very encouraging and supportive." He says White was especially welcoming when he was visiting colleges. "That sealed the deal," he says.
Metropoulos also credits White for helping him adjust to the University. "She helped me pick teachers that fit my learning style," he says.
His courses at UConn have included communications, history, English, biology and political science. He says not all his classes are relevant to his business interests, however, and he would prefer to concentrate on honing his skills in communications and business.
Already he has been asked to lecture at Ivy League schools in business and entrepreneurial classes because of the success he's had in business.
White says Metropoulos is eager to do well in school, too. "He has sought me out for ways to help him be a success. Since we are (a small campus), we are able to help."
White says that although Metropoulos' work responsibilities limit his time on campus, he is willing to help other students and "has an appreciation for different people and different groups.
"He's a great kid," she says. "He's friendly and outgoing. He's almost old-fashioned in his manners, but he's still something of an enigma because he has all the power and authority (that go with his work.)"
Next year, Metropoulos says, he'd like to "go away" to school - perhaps in Storrs - to "get the whole college experience.
"School is great, because it gives kids the maturity to develop in social settings and gives them a general knowledge of how the world works," he says. "Education in life is important - interaction with other students. It teaches self-reliance."
And he could still keep up with his business interests.