“You cannot stop with failure. To truly succeed as an entrepreneur you must learn from failure as part of the process.” Kunal Mehta kicked off the Hampton Roads Chamber new partnership with Old Dominion University Strome College of Business on November 15. Mehta was chosen for this first event to celebrate entrepreneurship month. The former Wall Street banker has written two books, Disruptors! Entrepreneurs and the Escape from Corporate America and Finding Genius. He told the group of local business leaders and Old Dominion University students about choosing the path in life that will give you the most fulfillment. “Do you pursue the structured path and gain status and reputation? Or follow the unconventional path for satisfaction?” Mehta asked while referencing his early success but discontent on Wall Street. Mehta advised the students “to engage business leaders for quick meetings over a cup of coffee so they can determine what path they are suited for life”.
Mehta said it was challenging to leave the comfort of his lucrative career, but what kept him motivated were the stories of others who had ventured out and succeeded. “I’m not talking about the 0.1 percent who make it big in six months. I am talking about the 99.9 percent of the entrepreneurs who find success on their 7th, 8th or 9th try. In reality, it takes 5 to 10 years to build a business.”
When interviewing disruptors for his book, Mehta said his biggest surprise was learning none of them was an overnight success. “But they all had the same refusal to quit.” He encouraged the students to learn computer science skills such as front-end design or back-end engineering to give them a competitive edge.
Dean Jeff Tanner of the ODU Strome College of Business welcomed Mehta as part of the Landmark Executive in Residence Program. “We are providing business leaders and emerging student leaders with speakers who are changing the economic footprint in America. We have invited the disruptors, the innovators, and the change-makers to share their ideology and best practices for igniting economic growth for Hampton Roads businesses and the region.”
Bryan K. Stephens, Hampton Roads Chamber President & CEO, thanked everyone for attending and had a special message for the ODU students. “Leadership is one of the most sought-after commodities in business. You are our future leaders.”
The Chamber Strome Business Series continues on January 31, 2018, with Vinod Agarwal and Robert McNab presentation of the Economic Forecast for the region. On March 21, Joshua Sullivan and Angela Zutaver share how the emergence of today’s machine age is a once in a decade breaking point that will transform business competition. On April 11, Isabel Rullán, a young Puerto Rican who founded the think tank ConPRmetidos will talk about finding opportunity for economic development in the Puerto Rican diaspora. On May 2 Chris Heivly, dubbed “the Start-Up Whisperer” and co-founder of Mapquest, explores what it takes to be a successful start-up.
(Pictured: Kunal Mehta and audience)