Ron Gibbs: Interviewing Entrepreneurs
RG: Why did you become an entrepreneur?
ROR: That’s a very interesting question Ron, and I’m glad you asked it. I want to make it perfectly clear that becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t premeditated for me. It just happened over the course of a couple of years. I sold candy to my peers after I had bought them at the wholesale price when I was a kid. I started a record label when I was a teenager with a friend of mine and sold records. I started a clothing company (“Hustling Magician” now owned by The Urban Blvd – theurbanblvd.com) when I was around sixteen (16). I also started investing and learning about the stock market as a teenager as well. I’m a born capitalist so being an entreprenuer was just a natural progression.
RG: Have you ever worked as an employee in this business/industry?
ROR: I worked in retail (clothing store) for a while but I wouldn’t say that it helped me significantly in managing ROBB CORPORATION and its various entities.
RG: What types of education prepared you for this business?
ROR: Informal education is where I gained the most knowledge about investing and other aspects of business. I went to the library and took out “Liar’s Poker” by Michael Lewis, “Buffett: An American Capitalist” by Roger Lowenstein, and downloaded and printed over 50 articles from forbes, investopedia, bloomberg, CNBC, etc. The irony is that my informal education helped me excell in my formal education where I would get 90-100% on most of my business exams.
RG: Where did you get the capital to start your business?
ROR: My very first source of financing was from my prior ventures and also family. I reinvest everything the firm makes. And I mean everything! My personal net worth is tide up into ROBB CORPORATION. Every penny.
RG: What were your major start-up problems?
ROR: My major start-up problems were ofcourse, limited financial resources, limited human capital, and not enough experience. But everyday you gain experience.
RG: What major technical, mechanical, or intellectual skills are needed in this business?
ROR: You have to take risks. Carefully calculated risks are always better but risks nonetheless. NOBODY successful has ever became that way without taking risks. You have to also be able to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to be creativity. And never ever ever fear failure. Communication skills are also crucial. Not returning emails, phones calls, etc, are big turn offs to customers or potential business partners. Also, surround yourself with talented people.
RG: How much money can I expect to earn in this business?
ROR: This question is interesting for two reasons. 1). Market demand determines how much money you can expect to make. 2). What are your personal/professional goals? Are you building a million dollar company or a billion dollar company? You decide how much money you can expect to make.
RG: Would you recommend a franchise or independent structure?
ROR: Franchises are based on successful business models. Cookie cutter if you will. Most entreprenuers like to build things from scratch. This includes me, so I will have to go with the independent structure.
RG: Where would this type of business be most successful?
ROR: I don’t quite understand the ambiguous “where” in your sentence, but I’ll give it a try anyway. A physical retail shop has a better chance at success in a location with heavy foot traffic. A barber shop has a better chance at success in a location frequented by a primarily male population. If you meant “where” as in the economic environment/system, then my answer would be, in a capitalistic economy. The firm gets to market and price its product anyway it wants in the free market.