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November 18, 2002 -- News Brief

CED Seminar -- "Essence of Entrepreneurship" -- Draws Crowd

Though they achieved success in different ways, three prominent entrepreneurs each stressed the importance that networking and risk-taking had in their respective careers to an audience of approximately 200 at the Levis Faculty Center on November 14.

Speaking to a crowd of mostly students, Peter Fox, Joe Boeddeker, and Fran Jabara shared their stories of success and failure during a question and answer session moderated by Paul Donohoe, station manager of WICD-TV. Entitled "The Essence of Entrepreneurship," the session was presented by the Center for Entrepreneurial Development. Each man gave advice on what the next generation of entrepreneurs can expect to encounter in their careers and what is necessary to make those careers successful.

"The more people you meet, the luckier you get," said Fox, founder of Fox Development Corp. and managing partner-developer/manager of the University of Illinois Research Park. Fox said this after he discussed how he made a contact while watching a football game. That contact partially led to his opening of a Wendy's franchise a year later.

"The edge (in entrepreneurship) comes in talking to other people, not in reading (tips). A lot of people can read," Fox said later. Fox wasn't downplaying the importance of education, but instead was stressing intangibles - like the ability to network and having a passion for success.

"I know I can help improve (a business)," said Jabara, expanding on the concept, "but that passion doesn't come from a lecture or a book."

Jabara, who was dean of the College of Business Administration at Wichita State University for seven years and helped launch Pizza Hut and Learjet, agreed that while a good education is a key in becoming a successful entrepreneur, it is only a part of the larger picture.

"Good people make things happen if you have a good partner and, hopefully, not the worst idea in the world," Jabara said.

The three men also stressed that new entrepreneurs should understand that failure is as much a part of their businesses as success.

"You just have to accept failure and get on to the next (project)," Fox said.

"Tenacity is a key ingredient to making a good entrepreneur," added Boeddeker. He later cited that while 80% of new companies do not last more than three years "the pendulum (in entrepreneurial success) has a big arc."

Boeddeker, president of the Enterprise Network, which incubated eBay, made a timely point when he discussed the how the failures of corrupt companies differs from the average failure. "You're not a really seasoned entrepreneur until you've had a failure," he said, "but if you fail because of stupidity or ethics, you don't get a second chance."

The November 14th forum was the first of several discussion forums planned by the Center for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) in association with IllinoisVENTURES, LLC. Established in February 2002, CED offers professional consulting and business research assistance to current and potential occupants of the University of Illinois Research Park and Incubator and to local start-up ventures. CED is a unit of the College of Business Office for Strategic Business Initiatives, a program that provides current Illinois MBA students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world consulting experiences.

--Christopher Boyce


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