Monmouth Entrepreneurs

Monmouth’s Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is the activity of setting up a business and taking financial risks in the hope of profit, according to Merriam-Webster.

Students are talking about entrepreneurship and seek to create a business from scratch, working independently. We have plenty of entrepreneurs on campus, and I sat down with a couple to understand the structure of such work. Is entrepreneurial life achievable for anyone?

While speaking to professionals in different industries, I realized how many interpretations the word “entrepreneur” has. Monmouth professors, students, and alumni, as well as the CEO of a leading Tech company, all approach the concept in different ways.

John Morano, Professor of Journalism, has built an entrepreneurial lifestyle from growing up with nothing. Aside from being the author of a three-part environmental series, he has opened four chains of Bubbakoo’s Burritos and receives royalty checks from his time as a partner of Night and Day, a monthly entertainment magazine that reached over 50,000 circulation.

“I don’t have a Ph.D. in burritos,” said Morano, “but if diversification of investment is good for you, then it seems that maybe diversification of involvements in businesses might also be good for you. So, I’m kind of following that model.”

John Buzza, a Specialist Professor of Business, has taken a different approach. He said, “Entrepreneurship is many things, but it starts with a state of mind. You must be a person who is very self-confident and not afraid to take risks. Entrepreneurship, like life, can be measured in risk versus reward. It becomes a test of your confidence in your ability to be all things: head of marketing, to head of management, to head of sales, to head of accounting.”

Jack Denning, a senior business management student, started his own meal prep company early this summer. He developed everything from the logo, the product, to the Instagram profile @JackDPreps.

He decided to pursue JackDPreps on the side because, “At the end of the day, full-time income isn’t going to bring me the income I want.” Denning said that once he invests in his meal prep company, that’s when income will really pop up.

Tara Ackaway, a Monmouth University Alumni and the CEO of Social Wise Communications, grew her company from independent freelance public relations work to housing a full staff. Ackaway is a public relations specialist who believes in the power of hard work.

One of Social Wise Communications’ clients, Aaron Price, is an entrepreneur specializing in the tech industry. Price, a graduate from the University of Maryland and the CEO of the tech company Propelify, said, “Entrepreneurship is about problem solving. How do you see something that other people see as a pain point? How do you come up with a solution? And how do you, in an entrepreneurial way, market that solution?”

Carly DeRosa, a Monmouth alumn with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and a minor in graphic design, is the founder of Lunar Digital Group. DeRosa began the marketing agency because she was “tired of trying to find that dream job.” DeRosa knew she could do more on her own instead of wasting time searching, so she created the opportunity for herself.

Morano admits that he has experienced personal failure in his career. He said, “When people say no to you, or they tell you, ‘you have no talent:’ I have experienced that too. It took me a year and a half to sell my first book. Every day I was getting rejected by another publisher. They had not read the book, but they were rejecting me every day.”

Morano continued, “Financial failure is a much different beast, and it is real with a capital ‘R.’”

He admits there were times when he has been hungry, “I have not known if I would have three meals in a day. I know what that feels like. And I didn’t know [then] even if I would have a home. It was really scary, but that will motivate you.”

An entrepreneur, according to Price, is someone with a dedicated skillset. He said, “There are certainly people who, I believe, are born with a so-called entrepreneurial gene. I think I am one of them. But I also think people who are truly dedicated to learning what that means can develop the skill set to be a great entrepreneur.”

Price has advice for college students who are just beginning their careers, “Take your own personal time much more seriously. Be very serious with (your own) deadlines, (your own) goals, with recognizing that it won’t be very long until other much more significant responsibilities come up and their ability to take higher risks is diminished.”

DeRosa also advises students, “Do not feel obligated to fit into the mold of ‘success.’ Everyone has a different story and everyone gets there in a different way. If you pave your own path and stick to your own identity, you will gain respect and reputation from the start.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Long Branch Patch