Last Friday, September 10, we had three sets of entrepreneurs from Traverse City, Michigan, present their stories to 350 students enrolled in our Entrepreneurship Hour speaker series at the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering. This speaker series is sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship and MPowered.
Wendy and Rick Steele, founders of Tape Wranglers and inventor of the industrial duct tape dispenser were the first presenters. Their story of discovering the need for an industrial duct tape while trying to package and ship a different invention is a great example of how good entrepreneurs are always observing and looking for ways to make things better.
Russ Springsteen, founder of Right Brain Brewery – Northern Michigan’s premier microbrewery and bar told an inspiring story of tenacity and customer focus as he saved for years to launch his business while constantly engaging customers with his idea.
Finally, Mike and Denise Busley – Founders of Grand Traverse Pie Company talked about how they left their high tech jobs in California to pursue their passion for quality of life in Northern Michigan and how their passion evolved into a fast growing chain of restaurants that is taking over the state.
This was an amazing opportunity for our entrepreneurial students to hear about decades of experience in 45 minutes and a great way to kick off the fall semester here at the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship.
Towards the end of the class, one of the students asked the group of speakers “How did you think about success and when did you know if you achieved it?”
This seems like a reasonable question to ask but what impressed me the most was how our three guest speakers reacted…. They all paused and seemed as if they did not understand the question.
Then each of them took turns responding in a similar way. For these entrepreneurs the concept of success was not a moment in time or a milestone for which they worked. For them, success was getting up each day and moving the ball forward and living their dream. They did not necessarily view success as a term that had significant meaning in their vocabulary.
Although all three of these entrepreneurs represented a wide range of industries I found it comforting to know that duct tape, beer and pie do indeed have something in common… they all are part of the lives of entrepreneurs who measure success in the actions they “do” each day.