founder encourages students to pursue their ideas

Jeff Hoffman–founder of–speaks on entreprenuership in the Kiva on Monday. Hoffman highlighted several key qualities every self-starter must have including the drive to “get off the couch” and no fear of potential failures. Photo by Valerie Brown.

Leighann McGivern

Jeff Hoffman, founder and CEO of, spoke in front of a crowd of about 100 students, faculty and community members in the Kiva Monday.

“Anybody in this room could be the one that starts the next big thing,” Hoffman said. “A lot of people spend their time making a list of reasons why not. I start every project I start assuming I can succeed and then trying to talk myself out of it, and if I can’t put a big, gaping hole in the thing I’m trying to do, I keep going forward.”

Hoffman’s speech was sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship and the Michael D. Solomon Entrepreneurship Speaker Series.

Hoffman said before he started, many people told him he wouldn’t succeed, adding that the website became one of the only companies to go from zero to $1 billion in revenue in 24 months.

“People always say, ‘If Jeff can start a company, anyone can start a company,’” Hoffman said. “I don’t know if I should eventually be offended by that.”

He went on to talk about experiences such as meeting Donald Trump and former ‘N Sync member Chris Kirkpatrick, who told him nobody in the music industry thought the boy band would find success.

“Whatever it is you do in life, whatever matters to you, if you have a passion for it, you will win,” Hoffman said.

Ashley Greenawalt, junior managerial marketing major, said she was a member of the committee who helped promote Hoffman’s visit.

“I thought he was really awesome — not ever a dull moment,” Greenawalt said. “He definitely was very entertaining and had a lot to say about how to be a successful entrepreneur.”

Hoffman said he was recently given a lifetime achievement award, but he doesn’t plan on calling it quits.

“All I learned from getting a lifetime achievement award is that I’m old — that’s how that made me feel,” Hoffman said. “I was like, ‘You know what guys? I’m not done.’ I’m not sure what lifetime achievement means, but I guess I was supposed to quit then.”

He encouraged students not to underestimate their potential.

“If you think about an example like Google, two college students not only created a business. They created a verb,” Hoffman said. “That’s pretty good to get into the dictionary with your first company after school.”

At the beginning of the presentation, Hoffman said his mother told him he would never own a Ferrari. He pulled up a slide at the end and joked, “Mine’s black.”

Marketing lecturer Julie Messing, who first contacted Hoffman to speak at Kent State, said he exceeded her high expectations.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Messing said.

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected] .