September 28, 2010
Serial entrepreneur Paul G. Lewis offered advice and strategies on starting and running a successful business September 16 at Stevens Institute of Technology, the Innovation UniversityTM. Speaking to a crowded room in Babbio Center, Lewis drew on his own experience to offer strategies in entrepreneurship. Lewis is the founder of four companies, two of which he took public and two of which were strategically acquired by Fortune 500 companies.
In his presentation, Lewis proposed the “sink model” of business: like water in a sink basin, cash must flow in and out so that the basin does not empty. “A business must be profitable in order to be successful. I turn the sink on and water comes in - that’s revenue. Then there’s a drain at the bottom, where your expenses and liabilities go out. The name of the game is that basin has to be constantly filling with water,” Lewis said. A business, he added, should make money from its first transaction.
Lewis also presented his top five tools for success in business: passion in the project, a realistic business plan, a unique product, profitability (or having cash or credit), and a strong team. He also spoke of the five “Kisses of Death”: a 50-50 partnership, team members that are only along for the ride, a business without a profit model, overspending on unnecessary items, and the founder losing interest in the business.
The presentation was punctuated with anecdotes from Lewis’ entrepreneurial history, from his first company that he started with $200 as a college student through the three other businesses he has founded over the years.
For Lewis, entrepreneurship is not a matter of money, but of passion. “For me, being successful doesn’t have anything to do with money. It has to do with having fun and doing what I want to do,” Lewis said.
Lewis' career in entrepreneurship began his senior year at Fairleigh Dickinson University when he realized that a computer program he wrote for a class could be used to file information at a video rental store. "That was the idea that launched MC2, my first business,” Lewis said. “A computer science homework assignment.” He drove to the store with his computer in the back of his car to show to the store owner. The owner loved it. Then came a question Lewis never expected: “How much do you want for it?”
"I'm thinking I'll tell him $300, which seemed like an insane amount of money,” Lewis said, “but what came out of my mouth shocked me. I said $3,000. Before I could correct myself he said ‘sold!’ I couldn't believe it."
Over time MC2 Corporation continued to provide technical solutions to global corporations, was named among the "INC. 500" list of the fastest growing privately held companies, and was strategically acquired in 1999 by a Fortune 500 company. His next venture, Getgo-Mail.com, successfully raised sufficient capital to build a fully functional unified messaging device based on patented intellectual property before going public. Next Lewis became President and CEO of CardXX, a technical manufacturing company that used its patented process to build the world's first NIST Level-3 rated smart RFID credit card. Lewis next founded PG Lewis & Associates, which became a national leader in computer forensics and was involved in many sensational litigation matters before being strategically acquired by a Fortune 500 company in 2006.
He has been featured numerous times on CNBC-TV, MSNBC-TV, FOX-NEWS, NJN-TV and a number of other broadcasts as an expert in emerging technologies, and has authored many articles for Forbes, Fortune, INC., and others. He is a former member of Cisco Systems' Steering Committee and Novell's Advisory Board. He was named "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" for United States National Region 2 by the Small Business Administration, appointed to the "Forty under 40" list of most influential business people, recipient of the Mass Mutual "Blue Chip" award for overcoming significant adverse business conditions, and was twice named a finalist for "Entrepreneur of the Year" by Ernst & Young. He is a frequent lecturer on entrepreneurialism at many of the nation's top business schools and universities. Lewis is active in the global Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) and is a mentor to other entrepreneurs.
For more information about Stevens Entrepreneurial Network Events, contact Ms. Sandra Furnbach at firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch the next network event October 7 when entrepreneur Ken Zorovich will discuss the genesis of ice pop-maker Zoku and how his company turned engineering innovation into a successful business. The presentation will be held in Babbio Center Room 221 from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.
Learn more about entrepreneurship at Stevens at the Office of Academic Entrepreneurship web site. To discover how Stevens can help make your ideas a reality, visit undergraduate or graduate admissions.