Leaving his heel print, a passion for innovation

When Brent Comstock arrived in Chapel Hill four years ago, he had a simple plan: take advantage of every opportunity he could in innovation and entrepreneurship at Carolina.

Four years later, Comstock has made a lasting impact in those areas at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He helped turn CarolinaGO into an app that students use every day, and he played a large role in making Adobe Creative Cloud free for all students.

“At the end of the day, no matter what I was doing on campus, I wanted it to benefit the University, especially in its creative, innovation ecosystems,” said Comstock, a business administration major who will graduate in a few weeks.

A Robertson scholar from Auburn, Nebraska, Comstock started his own company, BCom Solutions, in 2008 when he was just 12 years old. BCom Solutions is a digital marketing company for political campaigns, causes and advocacy issues. Now in its ninth year, the company employs full-time designers, developers and digital strategists.

Even as a full-time student who was running his own company, Comstock stayed true to his plan and left his heel print at Carolina with two major projects – the CarolinaGO app and the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Working closely with senior leadership from the Department of Information Technology Services, Comstock first focused on the University’s mobile app, CarolinaGO. While an earlier student team created the original idea, Comstock served as the project manager and worked with other students and ITS professional staff to turn CarolinaGO into an award-winning app the Carolina community uses daily.

“Brent took the lead in recasting the CarolinaGO app to be more contemporary and relevant in design, and in incorporating essential content our students, faculty and staff want and need,” said Chris Kielt, vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer.

Comstock also helped champion the Adobe Creative Cloud initiative on campus. His role was to gather student input and demonstrate how the creative could would be an effective way to reach students.

In September, the University purchased a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud’s entire suite of creative desktop applications for digital imaging and design, and made it available to all students and instructional faculty and staff.

“The coolest thing for me is that faculty are now thinking about their curriculum in a more creative and innovative way because they know students have access to the world’s leading design software right on their laptops” Comstock said.

Comstock also served as a member of the Commercialization and Economic Development Committee for the Board of Trustees. In his role, he advocated for student innovators and made sure that board members toured innovative spaces across campus.

“Brent is wise beyond his years,” said Julia Grumbles, chair of the BOT Commercialization and Economic Development Committee. “He adds a fresh, dynamic and straightforward perspective that contributes enormously to the committee’s board discussions.”

In addition, Comstock also was the student entrepreneur in residence at Launch Chapel Hill, a startup accelerator program, where he provided professional guidance to help students with their companies and ideas.

“Brent is both a tech expert and a role model to his fellow student entrepreneurs,” said Ted Zoller, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. “He is passionate about entrepreneurship, and shares his passion with others at UNC – he is transformational.”

When he is not working, Comstock is the accompanist for the children’s choir at University United Methodist Church. After playing the piano for 12 years, Comstock uses music as an outlet to relax.

After graduation, Comstock will be returning to Nebraska to continue to build his company, while also working for a venture capital firm based in South Carolina.

With a degree in hand, his advice to incoming first years is simple.

“In these next four years allow yourself to be as creative as you want, surround yourself with a diverse group of friends, constantly challenge yourself and immerse yourself in the spaces you are most passionate.”

 Story by Rachel Gogal and photos by Jon Gardiner, University Communications
Published May 1, 2017