BizStarts of Milwaukee is excited to present the September 2016 Featured Mentor, Gene Wright. Each month, BizStarts highlights a mentor from the Mentor Program and asks questions that provide knowledge and inspiration to other Milwaukee area entrepreneurs.
Interview with BizStarts Mentor, Gene Wright
Question 1: Hello Gene, tells us a little bit about your own background and then why you decided to help others by mentoring.
I have spent about half of my 37-year professional career with “corporate” Milwaukee firms in engineering and marketing roles. I have spent the other half of my career working in my own firms – six of them. I am a “pioneer” in e-business and online marketing – my first successful online e-business went online in 1994. Of the six firms, five were start-ups. Two of the firms were “flipped” or sold.
Question 2: If you want to encourage innovative ideas, how do you go about it?
Be a problem solver. The best way to create value is to solve a problem in a unique or better way that people will pay you for. Innovation is invention you get paid for.
Question 3: If you want to create an environment where motivation can thrive, what’s the first thing you would do?
Really care about your customer and how you deliver value. Be sure that whatever you are doing you see the value in it – as well as the customer. It is always great if you believe that what you are doing truly helps other people.
Question 4:Who has been a major influence on you?
Besides members of my family, Dr. Kimbel Nap, my MSOE Entrepreneurship Professor.
Question 5: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Pick your professional service providers (lawyers, CPA, banker) with great care. They are NOT commodities.
Question 6: What did you want to be when you were a child?
Question 7: What professional or personal struggle have you overcome and what did it teach you?
I labored over a decision on how long to stay with an employer. I reached a decision with the help of a professional peer advisory group. It taught me to surround yourself with professionals who care and will tell you the truth, not tell you what you want to hear.
Question 8: How has BizStarts helped you develop and grow?
They have not yet.
Question 9: What advice would you give entrepreneurs?
Work hard to get to REALLY understand your customers, their problems their current solutions and the market they work in and then, work hard provide them value and keep them happy. Also, make sure you build a great team who care about the same things you do – but do not necessarily think like you do.