In the most recent Hisaoka Speaker Series, Robert G. Hisaoka, ’79 Maryland alum, interviewed three fellow Terps who have successfully founded their own businesses.
“Initially, we didn’t know the right idea,” said Zeki Mokhtarzada, founder of Webs, Inc. “We got the wrong idea several times.” He explained that through this trial and error, he eventually understood the power of staying close to the customer in order to understand the unique value you add and what truly matters.
Mokhtarzada was joined by Rob McGovern, founder and former CEO of Career Builder, and Jasmine Snead, co-founder and CEO of Aurora Tights. Each entrepreneur had a different journey before arriving at the decision to launch their respective business. Passion and drive, however, were common among their stories. All three founders shared the importance of persistence and believing in the idea they pursued in order to overcome the challenges they faced along the way.
Similarly, the three founders stated the importance of finding a team of people who share in your passion equally and who can “be the warrior you need,” said McGovern about the process he takes when searching for new talent.
Snead, a current MPP and MBA student at the Smith School of Business, echoed the criticality of finding co-founders she trusts and balancing her strengths as a leader. As she balances school and the first year of her business, she relies heavily upon her fellow co-founders.
Fortunately for University of Maryland students, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship hosts an annual Pitch Dingman competition, which awards a $15,000 grand prize to its winner and gives exposure to the top-five finalists. For the early entrepreneur, the center holds Dingman Fridays to provide advising sessions that pairs students with subject matter experts.
The next Hisaoka Speaker Series will take place on April 14, featuring Gina Adams, senior vice president for government and regulatory affairs at FedEx Corporation.