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Networking, Numbers and Product Confidence Aid Entrepreneurs

Characterizing themselves as risk-takers, three entrepreneurs offered insight into making the move to a start-up company in a panel presentation at the 54th Annual Management Conference. The discussion was moderated by James Schraeger, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management.

“The one thing about being an entrepreneur is the opportunity to be creative and to think outside the box,” said Beth Andrews, ’02, who handles business development for Jerome Andrews Golf Co.

Yet it is a creativity built on the fundamentals of a business school education and experience and contacts gained on Wall Street or in big companies, the trio of speakers agreed May 19.

“All those relationships that you have on Wall Street, on in your early businesses, really are important, and I’d say keep a list of all the people you know, wealthy individuals,” suggested Clare Hare, ’88, president of Clare Hare Darien Designs. “You really never know where that funding is going to come from.”

A facility with quantitative analysis and understanding of how to put a deal together is also critical. “If you really don’t feel comfortable talking about that sort of thing I think you will find you don’t find it that easy to raise money,” she said. “If you really understand the financial relationship in any of these businesses you really have a leg up on other people that are trying to do the same thing.”

Hare and Andrews also emphasized the importance of marketing and confidence in one’s product. “You have to think of a way to say, ‘You should carry my line because…’” Hare said, “You can’t be shy. You have to go in there and really sell your line.”

“Never give up,” said Michael Bee, lead equity strategist for Boyd Watterson Asset Management. “Look at Donald Trump. How many bankruptcies has he gone through? Look at Woolworth…You have to take that risk.”

—Jenn Q. Goddu