By welcoming surprises, entrepreneurs find joy

Entrepreneurs, compared with people in other occupations, often appear to experience life as a whole in their work. They’re engaged, attentive and open to surprises that lift them up. Sometimes, the natural environment causes them; other times, entrepreneurial drive does.


David Pressler discovered that Hurricane Wilma, despite her destruction, not only couldn’t touch the family of one of his customers but increased his business. He’s president of DRD Enterprises Inc. in Plantation, Fla. Making what at first appears to be an enormous claim, he says, his “company builds indestructible monolithic concrete structures.” Ask a few questions and you’ll discover that they’re modeled on the monolithic domes built by the Germans along the Normandy Coast, standing since World War II.

“It’s one piece of concrete with no seams or connectors,” says Pressler, a retired firefighter, “framed with rebar (reinforcing) steel and sprayed with four to six inches of concrete.” The transportable SafeDomes are above-ground, so they let inhabitants communicate with the outside world, should the domes become covered with debris.

Who would want one of these energy-efficient structures? The family in Florida who had one installed just weeks before Wilma survived the hurricane. But Pressler was astonished when he “knew from the media that the eye of Wilma went through Palm Beach and found out where ... ” and that he subsequently sold four more units in that neighborhood.


Recurring joy for entrepreneurs comes from throwing themselves into their work and being surprised at results. Ola Ayeni, owner of Eateria in Naperville, Ill., which sells a digital loyalty marketing tool for the hospitality industry, realized one day that he’d won four competitions in as many industries promoting his software in just one year. He initially planned to get capital without sacrificing equity or going into debt. His ultimate goal would be to seek outside funding.

Ayeni set out to teach himself to identify and apply to competitions best suited to Eateria, a process he says consumed weeks of his time. For the first one, sponsored by a leader in the food and beverage industry, “I followed instructions to the letter,” he says, “including how you space the pages.”

He practiced repeatedly so he could make a substantive, winning pitch in a video conference and ultimately won $50,000. This money he invested in developing the platform for his software.

Another competition involving a technology leader offered $60,000 of software to use for free for two years, no strings attached. A third, a financial services leader targeting software-for-service companies, awarded him $50,000 in credit card fees, with no time limit. The most recent, from a major-city economic development program trying to attract new businesses, sifted 712 applications to 20 winners of $50,000 each, Eateria among them. That made four business plan competitions in one year, a development that astonishes Ayeni.

How does he explain it? He says that he didn’t win every competition he entered, just those that seemed best aligned with his criteria, financial and otherwise. He also didn’t succeed in isolation; he researched, joined groups and kept in touch with people he met to stay informed.

With no hint of egotism or arrogance, he adds, “When your time has come, nothing can stop you. Things happen for you. When that time is available for you, doors just open for you. Treat people kindly. Empower them. Having a life where you impact people is a life worth living.”

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at © 2013 Passage Media.


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