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In Market: Drinking from the cup of entrepreneurism

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Entrepreneur Summit

Friday, July 29

11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dee Kelly Alumni Center – TCU Campus

Fort Worth Business Press is teaming up with IDEA Works FW and TCU Neeley School of Business for the First Annual Entrepreneur Summit.

www.fortworthbusiness.com/events/entrepreneur_summit.html

How strong is the entrepreneurial spirit?

Stronger than the word itself.

I remember the man well. He entered the Grand Prairie Daily News office looking a little rough around the edges. But then, hey, this was Grand Prairie, where many a backroom deal was cemented over iced tea and a senior special at Denny’s.

I was covering city council then and we were in a real estate recession. Home sales were down, interest rates were sky high and builders were stuck doing little more than trading empty lots. When the rough-edged man came in, I recognized him. One of the guys I saw on job sites at some of the communities under development. He was always working for someone else, but someone else always wanted to hire him because he got the job done.

He called me over and laid out some renderings of homes, smaller homes than had been on the market. He had gone to the city council to ask for their blessing to build some homes that were smaller, zero-lot line, etc. to sell at a lower cost.

Young people can’t afford these expensive homes, he said, growing passionate about his plans. “We need to give them options,” he said.

As he showed me his plans for the homes, he was obviously proud of his work, as he should have been. And excited. He had the gleam in his eye that said he had found something in himself he didn’t know he had.

I told him that if he told the city council what he told me, they’d give him a fair shake. He thanked me and then said, “You know my son says that if this works it’ll make me an entre…” He stopped, not completing the word. “An entrepre…” He stopped again.

“An entrepreneur?” I finished the word for him.

“Yeah, that. That’s what I’ll be,” he said, smiling before he walked out the door.

The city council approved his plans, though I think the market turned before he could get any of the homes built. I do note, however, that the “tiny houses” trend has at least one TV show devoted to it.

But I’ve seen that same gleam in the eye that this man in Grand Prairie had many years back. It’s the look of an entrepreneur. And though the man in Grand Prairie couldn’t say the word, he was one. He had an idea and by God he was going to see it through.

That’s one reason the Fort Worth Business Press is sponsoring an Entrepreneur Summit at the end of July. We’re working with IDEA Works and Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business. They’re both part of the entrepreneurial infrastructure that is a growing part of the Fort Worth business community and economy.

If you don’t think you’re an entrepreneur, maybe because you work for a giant international conglomerate, think again. Entrepreneurs love new words and they have one for you: intrapreneur, meaning someone who works for a large corporation, but continues to innovate.

We’re going to have some fast-paced, interactive sessions on being an entrepreneur and a great speaker, Jim Stikeleather, chief innovation officer at Dell Inc., who knows about innovation both outside and inside large corporations.

At the end of the event, we’ll retire to Acre Distillery to both imbibe of the fruit of that entrepreneurial business and to have one-on-one discussions with other entrepreneurs.

So come join us. Whose idea was this event? I think…I think it was mine. I must be an entre…, an entrepre…whatever it is. I am one. And you can be, too.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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