It didn't take David Lopez long to figure out the last thing he wanted was to be just another cog in a corporate wheel.
''I wasn't right for the whole corporate thing,'' he says. ``I wanted the American dream, but I didn't think I'd achieve it with a corporation.''
The problem was figuring out another way. Lopez, who grew up in Cooper City and now lives there, was studying business but had very little job experience. He had worked in a couple of smoothie stores in high school. And his father had owned his own small printing business. He'd also borrowed enough in student loans to know a little about financing. So he came up with a plan, which he launched his sophomore year.
It went like this: Apply for $20,000 in student loans, the maximum awarded if you enrolled in every class allowed. Persuade your girlfriend and future wife to be a business partner. Badger the cafeteria manager at a nearby community college into letting you open a smoothie kiosk. Sink the loan money into the business -- which he today admits may or may not have been legal -- and never lose hope.
Seven years later, Lopez, a new father with another baby on the way, has franchised 30 Froots Smoothie stores from Arizona to Florida with others in Ireland and the Turks and Caicos. Another 72 franchises have been sold and plans are underway to open at least 500 more in the next five years, he said.
Photo by J. Albert Diaz.