Hospitality and Entrepreneurship Summit

Speakers encourage students to work hard, network, have passion for what they do

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1:04 p.m., April 15, 2011--Be willing to work hard, long hours. Network wherever you go. Get your finances in order. Make sure you have the support of your family. But most of all have a passion for what you do. These were the ideas echoed by each of the speakers at the fifth annual Hospitality and Entrepreneurship Summit held last weekend on the University of Delaware campus in Newark.

“One of the top reasons entrepreneurs are successful is because they have a ‘fire in the belly,’” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in his keynote speech to the audience of college and high school students from up and down the East Coast. 

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“If you don’t have that unbelievable drive to be successful, if you don’t love it, you just won’t succeed because it’s too many hours and the work is too hard,” Markell said. “It’s easy to talk about being an entrepreneur but if you want to be a successful entrepreneur it takes an incredible commitment.”

Markell also explained to students that they need the “know-how” – knowledge about financing, franchisee information and legal aspects; enough money in the bank to be adequately capitalized; and a personality if they hope to succeed.

“You have to be able to relate to people,” said Markell. “Your product can be great but if your service isn’t, you won’t have people coming back.”

Markell shared his own work experiences prior to his political life including his very first job at a local Friendly’s restaurant, where he learned the value of teamwork from bosses with high standards and a teenage wait staff that shared tips.

“We needed everyone we worked with to be successful because the more successful they were the better off we were going to do as a team,” said Markell.

The governor also praised the summit agenda, chock-full of education sessions and panels with small business owners and entrepreneurs, and encouraged the students to both listen closely and to ask a lot of questions.

“I was taught as a kid that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” said Markell. “We’re supposed to listen twice as much as we speak, because we don’t learn anything when we’re talking. You learn something when you’re listening.”

Markell advised students to take risks as well. Quoting lyrics from the Lee Ann Womack song, he told students “if you have the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

“If you’re sitting it out, the other people who want the same job are not sitting it out,” said Markell. “The best job you will ever get will not be because it is advertised in the newspaper and it’s not going to be because it’s online. It’s going to be because you met somebody and you made a connection with them and this weekend is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”

After his talk, Markell briefly met with students, joined them for photographs and gave some one-on-one advice.

Clinton Tymes, state director of the Delaware Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), then led the first session, “Business Ownership 101,” where he educated students about the role of the SBTDC, spoke about the profile of an entrepreneur and explained the various forms of business organizations.

He also offered “Clintonisms” to the students.

“There’s no such thing as a deal of a lifetime and you won’t find a grant to pay for all your expenses,” Tymes advised students. “You need to know your priorities, be prepared to work a lot of hours, write a business plan…and pay your taxes!”

Following Tymes, a panel on “Minority Business Owners’ Success Stories” gave students insight into possibilities for the future.

Danielle Dawkins, owner and operator of Jo-Dan/MadAlisse Ltd., just last year earned full ownership of a McDonald’s franchise in Philadelphia. 

“I have ketchup in my veins,” she told students, noting that hard work, dedication and growing up in the business helped lead her to success.

Dana Herbert, UD alumnus, owner of Desserts by Dana and recent Next Great Baker winner, emphasized the importance of having a strong, supportive family who understands his average 100-hour workweeks.

Paul Altero, also a UD alumnus and owner of Bubbakoo’s Burritos and Otis’ Milkshakes and Smoothies, talked about the importance of finding good mentors and echoed Markell’s remarks on establishing relationships and networking.

“Work for and learn from a larger company before you go out on your own,” Altero advised students. “Make mistakes, get experience and gain insight into running a business.”

Craig Welburn, Jr., owner and operator of McDonald’s/Welburn Management, and Tanya Holliday, owner and operator of McDonald’s/Tanway Enterprises, also touched on the need for a supportive family and the willingness to work many hours.

Later that afternoon, students advanced to “Business Ownership 201,” where they heard from Chipman L. Flowers, Jr., Delaware state treasurer and founder of Flowers Counsel Group, LLC.

A second panel followed on the “Nuts and Bolts of Ownership,” featuring Jacinta Terry, assistant vice president at PNC Bank, and Stanley Terry, financial services representative with MetLife Independence Wealth Strategy.

The first day of the summit ended with business plan presentations by the students, followed by a dinner with Minister John A. Dawkins, III, president and CEO of Jo-Dan Enterprises.

Sunday concluded the summit, with additional student presentations and a final panel, “How to Become a Franchisee,” moderated by Tymes and featuring Michael Fruin, senior vice president of development and operations at High Hotels, Ltd.; Bobby Pancake, franchisee and operator of Buffalo Wild Wings; and Kenneth Youngblood, owner and operator of McDonald’s/KLS Management.

The summit, which is organized by the Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) at UD, was co-chaired by Lozelle DeLuz, president and CEO of DeLuz Management Consulting Inc. and former owner of the Wilmington-area McDonald’s franchises; and Francis Kwansa, associate chair, director of HRIM graduate studies and associate professor.

The summit was also made possible by the co-sponsorship of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hospitality Management Consortium and the McDonald’s Corporation. 

Article by Kathryn A. Marrone

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