“Only in America could someone with $20 and a racecar one day be sitting on a stage next to the governor.”
Those words were spoken by racing CEO and businessman Richard Childress during High Point University’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable event on March 20, where Childress and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory served as panelists in a discussion about innovation in North Carolina with 600 people in attendance.
They were joined by Robert Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers; Rachel Weeks, founder and CEO of School House; and Bryan Young, CEO of BEC, an award-winning digital agency. Dr. Nido Qubein, HPU president, moderated the panel and discussed the themes of perseverance, hitting bumps in the road and taking risks when launching a business.
“It’s going to be the start-up businesses that really determine our future,” said McCrory at the event. “To be successful, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, and surround yourself with talent that doesn’t match your own.”
The panel agreed that every business owner would hit bumps in the road. Funding will be scarce; plans will fall through; and there will be many sleepless nights. But perseverance, preparation and passion are the key elements to succeeding in the long run, they said.
“Nothing was as easy as I thought, but you tackle the obstacles as they come and don’t ever quit,” said Weeks, a young entrepreneur whose company has made a commitment to manufacture apparel in the United States. “Have passion for what you do. That is the key to perseverance.”
“Our students need to hear from innovators who have already developed their own business and experienced highs and lows along the way,” said Lou Anne Flanders-Stec, assistant professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “Students are actively developing plans and launching companies right now, and these panelists offered them invaluable advice.”
The panel will air in a special UNC-TV presentation in the coming months.