Solomon Lecture Series kicks off, gives business advice

Nicole King

One of the obstacles most future entrepreneurs must overcome is the fear of failure.

“Failure is all part of the process, and whether it is a minor or major failure, you have to learn from your mistakes,” said Geoffrey Thrope, president of NDI Medical. “Mini failures are what pave the road to being great.”

Lou Schneeberger, Tim Curtiss and Thrope kicked off the Solomon Lecture Series last night in the Kiva. The panel’s speech was titled “Does Money Grow on Trees?” The speakers talked about their entrepreneurial experiences and gave students words of wisdom for starting a new business.

Thrope, who co-founded NDI Medical, is credited with co-inventing the Freehand System, the world’s first commercially available motor-control neuroprosthesis.

He didn’t achieve those goals on luck alone.

“My feeling about entrepreneurship is that you have to have a solid foundation in education or experience,” Thrope said. ” It is so important to be externally focused and internally driven to be a successful entrepreneur.”

Curtiss serves as chief executive officer and co-founder of Liquid Resources, a Northeast Ohio company that provides waste management alternatives and produces ethanol. He also worked with many of the world’s largest financial institutions and has nearly 20 years of experience on Wall Street.

Curtiss said the road to starting a business is not an easy one.

“Raising the capital is the hardest part of starting a business,” Curtiss said. “It is going to take a lot longer than you think, and you should be ready for four years of hell. If you want to get a loan from the bank, plan on signing away your wife, kids and everything you own.”

Schneeberger, a Kent State alumnus, has served as co-owner and director of Olympic Steel, as well as chairman of Royal Appliance. Recently, he assisted in forming JumpStart, a nonprofit organization that identifies, advises and funds high-growth businesses and ideas in Northeast Ohio, and now serves as chairman.

He said that students need to get as much experience as possible before they graduate.

“It is imperative to get a chance to see practical application,” Schneeberger said. “You have a better perspective once you actually see professionals in action.”

Schneeberger said it is important to foster entrepreneurs in Ohio.

“The state of Ohio needs to get back to small business,” Schneeberger said. “Big businesses are slowly leaving, and small businesses are the key.”

The Michael D. Solomon Lecture Series in Entrepreneurship is presented four times a year by the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management.

Contact College of Business and Administration reporter Nicole King at [email protected].