University alumni offer tips for future entrepreneurs at lecture

University alumni offer tips for future entrepreneurs at lecture

Drew Mika
Issue date: 11/9/07

S. Kent Fannon and Diane Fannon spoke at yesterday afternoon's innovation and entrepreneurship lecture.

Media Credit: Alexa King
S. Kent Fannon and Diane Fannon spoke at yesterday afternoon’s innovation and entrepreneurship lecture.

11/9/07
– As part of the University of Rhode Island’s Anthony J Risica Endowed
Lecture Series on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, two URI alumni, S.
Kent Fannon and Diane Fannon, spoke about entrepreneurship in the
corporate environment yesterday. Their talk focused on the two types of
entrepreneurs, intentional and accidental.

The Fannons presented
in front of a small crowd of students and the community at Kirk
Auditorium. The two began their talk by speaking about their
experiences at URI and how they became entrepreneurs.

Diane
said she considers herself an "accidental entrepreneur," which means
she never intended to become an entrepreneur. Diane graduated from URI
with degrees in English and education, but her career track fluctuated
throughout the years.

Diane’s first step to entrepreneurship
started when she became a first grade teacher and then a design
assistant in New York City. Later, she became a secretary for an
advertising agency and eventually took a job as a broadcast producer.

Her
fifth career started in New York City at Gray Advertising as an
executive creative director and writer where she stayed for 18 years.

"American
Heritage Dictionary defines entrepreneur as ‘a person, who organizes
and manages a business adventure,’ and if you restrict your definition
of entrepreneur to this you will miss out on a very fulfilling career,"
she said.

Kent said he calls himself an "intentional
entrepreneur," meaning he set out to become an entrepreneur. Kent’s
presentation consisted of seven main points, each of which he explained
with examples from his business background.

The first rule was plain and simple. "Stuff happens," he said.

He
used an example from when he used to work at American Airlines. Kent
developed a program for AA while he was in graduate school. He managed
to develop the program in time series analysis, which would predict air
traffic control. This worked well until the airline industry declined,
thus explaining his rule.

Kent continued the lecture with several tips.

"If you are not a key asset you are not in control of your own destiny," he said.

He also discussed businesses strategies like, "keeping your eye on the
environment and paying attention to what’s going on outside."

Kent
talked further about the buying and selling of companies and emphasized
that future entrepreneurs should know their environment and know when
to buy and sell.

For the remainder of his points Kent caught up
with his life, talking about how he’s been in the private equity world
for the past five years.

"Entrepreneurship in the private equity world can either be an absolute dream or absolute nightmare," he said.

At the end of the hour, Kent discussed the pros and cons of corporate entrepreneurship.

"[Corporate
entrepreneurship] tends to have more patience and you usually support a
greater corporate mission," he said. "There are multiple stakeholders
which means there are multiple chairpersons who are never anxious to
pull the plug."

Kent said the cons of corporate
entrepreneurships include corporate politics, the future and the
corporation as the largest stakeholder.

Despite the cons, Kent encouraged the audience to take satisfaction from their accomplishments.

"It’s not all about the money, don’t burn bridges and every situation is an opportunity," he said.

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