When were you “bitten” by the entrepreneurial bug?
Growing up, my brother and I had a series of short lived ventures – our most notable being after 9/11 when we manufactured and sold patriotic jewelry to raise money for the Red Cross. But I was first ‘bitten’ when spearheading the BIKE initiative while serving on my university’s student government. The BIKE Initiative was conceived as a series of conversations sophomore year; my junior year, we pulled together a team of students and administrators with the combined expertise, energy and enthusiasm to make real, lasting change in our community. Working on this venture was deeply satisfying and I was captivated by what could be accomplished through hard work with a thoughtful and committed group to realize a shared vision.
What’s been the hardest part about starting your own business as a millennial entrepreneur?
No one will hand you a manual and say “Here, do this or go about it that way.” The most valuable skill is persistence in seeking answers - knowing how to research information and find the answers to issues specific to your venture.
What resources have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?
Mentorship has proven one of the greatest resources. Every successful venture has included guidance from those who are further along. A corollary to this is encouragement. It’s key to find individuals who will champion and cheer for you through the ups and downs. I also found a lot of encouragement in reading the thoughts of past trailblazers - I am particularly fond of the works of Emerson and Thoreau.
Who’s your entrepreneurial hero?
Recently, it’s been Elon Musk. The way he approaches entrepreneurship is radically different from the mold. While his ventures aren’t service based on the surface, he is addressing issues which will improve life for future generations – and using considerable sums of his own money to do so. That’s admirable.
What advice do you have for today’s aspiring entrepreneurs?
Whatever you want to do – begin it, but be wise. Put effort into developing good judgment. As important as it is to do your homework, you can’t know everything beforehand. Prudence is more important than knowing the facts.
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