Advice from the 2008 Dorm-Based 20 Winners (series two)

(At StartupNation's request, the following words of advice were provided by Jeremy Clarke, a winner in the 2008 StartupNation Dorm-Based 20.)

As many of you probably know, being a successful entrepreneur requires hard work and sleepless nights.  However, I believe there is no better time in your life to develop and utilize your entrepreneurial skills than while in college.  You are exposed to valuable resources which can help you develop a solid approach to your business: from your fellow students who have great ideas, to your professors who can help guide you, to programs and initiatives from the school to get the ball rolling.

Building my businesses has required a myriad of different qualities and business techniques.  The following is my “secret sauce” for building successful businesses as a young entrepreneur.


First and foremost, you must be passionate about your business.  You may have heard the phrase, “If you are doing something you love, you will never work a day in your life.”  That is very true!  Starting a new business requires a great deal of work (and sometimes rejection) before you hit that tipping point where momentum drives the business forward.  Passion for your business to succeed will help you make it through rough beginnings.

Customer Service

As you are building your business, word-of-mouth will play a large part in your success.  You must make sure that every client/customer is 100% satisfied and could be considered a “raving fan.”  This reputation will help you attract larger clients and grow your business.  For example, after 3 years of working hard to develop satisfied clients, Vortex Web Solutions has had nearly 100% of new business come from refe


Another critical quality of a young entrepreneur is being respectfully persistent.  Do not take no for an answer.  If a prospect tells you they are “not interested at this time”, ask if you may contact them in 3-6 months to see if their needs have changed.  Your persistency will help you stay in front of your prospects and hopefully, keep you top of mind as opportunities present themselves.

Work Ethic

A strong work ethic is key to success as an entrepreneur.  You must be willing to sacrifice some of your social time to work on building your business.  This is specifically important when you have to fit your studies into the mix.  You must set goals which will hold you accountable for keeping your obligations.  Many entrepreneurs, including myself, find there are just not enough hours in the day!

Make It Happen

As you are building your business, you will have to put on many different hats, especially if you are a one man show.  You may find yourself needing to do work which is not exciting, but it is important that it gets done.  One option is to outsource this work, but that might not be the most economical choice.  If you find yourself in this situation, keep your head up and drive through the “work”.  Always remember, as entrepreneurs we make our future; the sacrifices and work we put in now translate into a successful future.

What’s happening with my entrepreneurial endeavors?

I am starting to gain some traction with my most recent business, IndyDining.  We are expanding into cities across the U.S. and looking for fellow entrepreneurs to help build and run IndyDining in their cities.  If you are a passionate entrepreneur (or aspiring entrepreneur) interested in this opportunity, please contact me today!

Vortex Web Solutions is continuing to build a strong portfolio of web development clients.  We have seen triple digit growth for the past 4 years straight, and don’t expect for that to slow.  We have become experts in developing cutting-edge applications which help businesses leverage the power of the internet to grow their business.  With our experience, we can be essential for startups.

Sharper Results has seen promising growth throughout the last 2 years.  We have had over 1,500 students who have used our software and many more who have utilized our test packet materials.  We have created strategic alliance with the Boys and Girls Club to offer their students our materials for no cost.  We plan on continuing to be an affordable tool for students to increase their skills in the classroom.

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