Storytelling Breeds Success

On Nov. 14, the College’s Entrepreneurship Club had the luxury of sitting down with Cheryl McCants, a female entrepreneur with a great deal of insight and valuable work experience in the business world. During her lecture, McCants put a massive emphasis on the importance of storytelling. The ability to tell a story through her work, and to form lasting connections with business professionals, is what has allowed her to take on multiple leadership roles in the duration of her career.

McCants is the CEO of  Impact Consulting Enterprises, a company she founded in the late 1980s, which is located in East Orange, New Jersey. ICE is a communications firm focused on helping clients with their business models. At ICE, employees work with clients to improve their marketing, advertising and general communication skills.

McCants wasn’t always CEO of her own company. She began her college education at Brown University as a biomedical engineering major, with the intent to one day build the first bionic African American woman. Though she didn’t find herself interested in math, she discovered a passion for business at her college, and was able to switch majors and gain a strong understanding of the industry she would later excel in.

After graduating and starting up ICE, McCants was able to get involved in the television industry, and had her own talk show from the perspective of women. She also worked with massive corporations such as AT&T, Converse and MSNBC.

McCants demonstrated the importance of networking and learning from different people to students by making them participate in a game. She encouraged every single audience member to network with the individual sitting next to them. Each student learned about what the other student wished to do with entrepreneurship. McCants explained the importance of professional resources, such as Linkedin, and the need to grow your business network as much as possible because one never knows when a connection will be needed.

In the conclusion of the event, McCants had students play a game which quizzed them, testing their knowledge of different statistics in the entrepreneurial world. The majority of the audience did poorly, with many underestimating the amount of entrepreneurs and their impact in the world. Overall, the Entrepreneurship Club valued the time they had with McCants and the important lessons that she was able to impart from her valuable work experiences. McCants inspired students to make their can’ts into CANs and their dreams into PLANs.

Entrepreneurs Take A Piece of the Pie With Piccolo Pronto

Roll the dough,

stretch the dough,

twirl it in the air.

Pour the sauce,

layer the toppings,

throw it in the oven.

Nothing compares to a delicious pizza, the overwhelming taste of cheese, sauce, and toppings all melted together on bread crust.  Now, thanks to Campus Town's Piccolo Pronto, quality pizza is just a short walk away for students at The College of New Jersey.  The Pronto, located below the Campus Town building One (behind the gym), is a different kind of pizza restaurant that offers customers personal pizzas as well as other pasta dishes and desserts.  During this semester, the Entrepreneurship Club has paired with the Pronto for a couple of events this semester.

On Tuesday March 8th, the owner of Piccolo's, Fami, stopped by a club meeting to talk to members about how he got into the restaurant business, and how to stay motivated as an entrepreneur as well as give back to the community.  

Fami began working at age 12, washing dishes at a local restaurant.  It was then and there that he learned the value of hard work and how to learn everyday.

"Always learn from others, that's how you add value," Fami says.  "Someone always has to listen to someone else.  That's life."

Fami's dream was always to own a restaurant, and he showed his motivation the day he went to the bank for a loan.  While initially denied, he sat there and fought for what he believed in for hours, talking to several different people.  

He had a passion for what he wanted to do and he conveyed this to students, saying that it is passion and motivation that is the key to succeeding as an entrepreneur.  Fami has opened Piccolo's restaurants in Ewing and Pennington, NJ, Langhorne, PA, and now at TCNJ although the Pennsylvania store did not work out in the long run.  

"Why turn good money into bad money," Fami claims is the reason for the Langhorne store closing down.

Two words that he continued to reiterate were 'clarify' and 'verify,' stating that these two words will lead to proper management and efficiency in the workplace allowing the restaurants to thrive.  As a result of clarifying and verifying, Fami has opened three successful restaurants with another one coming with a liquor license in Doylestown, PA.  

Fami got the idea for the Pronto out in California, and he wanted to bring the idea out to New Jersey, believing that it was a good idea.

"If you put a brand out there and its good, people will come," Fami says.

As for the Pronto, Fami loves to use it as a way to give back to the community, hosting a 'Knead Out Hunger' event on Wednesday March 30th.  Pizzas were given to customers in exchange for donations, and 100% of the donations were given to the Trenton Soup Kitchen.  In total, the restaurant raised about $6,000 for the kitchen.

The Entrepreneurship Club wanted in on the action as a group of club members volunteered to help out during the day.  Some group members advertised the event dressed as pizzas staring by the street while others talked to those waiting on line about what their donations mean and thanking customers for donating after the fact.  

Additionally, the club was given the opportunity to create their own pizza to be added to a specialty menu and voted on for a potential addition to the actual menu moving forward.   The club created, 'The Entrepreneur,' an innovative pizza that combines several different popular pizzas into one delicious pizza.  The pizza contains penne chicken Alfredo with bacon bits and broccoli.  After getting a chance to sample the pie, the club members knew they created something good.  

The Entrepreneurship Club has been honored to work with Fami and Piccolo Pronto this semester, and looks forward to hopefully teaming up again sometime in the future.

Networks Make Dreams Work

The Entrepreneurship Club hosted another great speaker last Tuesday night, bring Dr. Joseph D. Salamone, DC, father of club President, Joe Salamone, to talk to students about the importance of networking.  Dr. Salamone was accompanied by his lifelong friend and current business partner, Toni Vardiman.  

Dr. Salamone was born in Patterson, NJ, and grew up in Fairfield, NJ where he wrestled in high school.  An unfortunate injury during his career, which required chiropractic treatment, showed Dr. Salamone that he wanted to be a chiropractor.  After that he went out to Iowa, where he finished his degree in 3.5 years.  He eventually found himself revolutionizing the medical field as he was one of the first chiropractors to work in a hospital.  He spent 15 years, teaching how to include chiropractic practices in the emergency room and performed treatments on patients such as pregnant women who suffered from back problems.  

After leaving the hospital industry, Dr. Salamone then opened a 25,000 square foot health club, with his office located right by MetLife Stadium.  One of the first things he advised of those in attendance was to step out of your comfort zones for he did just that when asked to talk about injuries in the common workplace, resulting in about 40-50 new patients within the next week.  Additionally, he would meet and treat athletes such as Andre Agassi, and even be asked to treat the Metrostars soccer team.

 Over time, his network continued growing and expanding, leading to several business opportunities that he has invested some time in.  One business venture in particular, which Dr. Salamone cites as his favorite of them all, is Mozzarella Man, which came to be when he met a perfumer, who was skilled in scents and tastes.  After traveling to Italy and learning how to make fresh mozzarella, Dr. Salamone approached his friend about infusing flavor into the cheese, thus creating Mozzarella Man.  After a few trial cheeses, they finally found the combination that sufficed their vision.  Soon after that, the owner of ShopRite just happened to come into Dr. Salamone's office.

"Where'd you get this?" the man asked. "I want this in all the stores!"

Soon enough the cheese business took off.

"I was getting 2-3 calls a day," Dr. Salamone said.

As the cheese began selling at ShopRite, the demand soon reached about 100 pounds of cheese every 3 or 4 days, and soon enough, WakeFern wanted a piece of the action.  The business took off so fast that Dr. Salamone eventually pulled it, in order for him to find a way to regulate production and sales without taking him away from the office.  He has since found away to balance both jobs.

Mozzarella Man is not the only business Dr. Salamone has invested some time in.  Grammy award winning artist, Jerry Wonder, a friend of Dr. Salamone, approached the chiropractor about a new type of liquor he wanted to hit the shelves.  This drink, formally called Bonfun, is a wine infused cognac.  Luckily for Mr. Wonder, Dr. Salamone knew the owner of Bottle King, and they were able to get the drink on the shelves.  

AlignMed is another product that Dr. Salamone is excited to see hit the market.  In an attempt to see bettering posture, AlignMed has released a vest that can be adjusted to any size to pull the wearers shoulders back.  Overtime, the constant pulling on the shoulders will create better posture through muscle memory just as muscle memory can create poor posture over time.  

One last product was a bear that can become both a hot pack and a cold pack that Dr. Salamone has been working on with his close friend Toni Vardiman.  The two have known each other since they were 12, and Toni brings experience and connections from from Linens and Things that is currently getting the product into stores.  

The two business partners wanted to share a couple tie bits of advice with the audience at the meeting.  

Dr. Salamone says that the best business partner is someone that you've known for a long time.  As far as networking goes, he says to join some sort of club, i.e. Rotary, Knights of Columbus, Free Masons, etc.  This is a great way to meet as many people as you can.  He also says to connect with as many people as you can on LinkedIn.

"Think outside the box," Dr. Salamone said, "Think of people of different genres, then try to know someone from each genre."

As for Toni, who found herself a Vice President at Linens and Things before the company fell, she talks about the importance of maintaing relationships for you never know when you may need to start over.  

"You are what your friends are, you are who your friends are," she said.  "Relationships are everything,  EVERYTHING!"

Thirsty For Brewing Brilliance

The College of New Jersey continued its tradition of having beneficial guest speakers address the students.  On Wednesday, Professor Carla Fallon's Management 381 class about entrepreneurship hosted Chris Walsh, majority owner of Ewing, NJ's RiverHorse Brewery, for the second strait semester.  

Walsh addressed members of the class, members of the Entrepreneurship Club, and other students interested Entrepreneurship and RiverHorse, about his journey from investment banking to negotiating with Bruce Springsteen about using Springsteen's lyrics and images in their marketing gimmicks all the way to saving a brewery in decline.  

Students were able to take in a variety of messages and lessons as they listened to Walsh's experiences.  All of his lessons were of great importance, but one message stood out above all (at least in my opinion) and that is that Walsh was not a founder of the RiverHorse Brewery, and he has not been involved in any sort of start up business.  Despite all of this he is still considered to be an entrepreneur.  Walsh exemplifies a different meaning to entrepreneurism, and reminds students that they can still pursue entrepreneurism even if they do not have a great innovative start up business idea.  

Students were able to learn the importance of getting important corporate experience at a young age.  Upon being asked if it is wise to pursue entrepreneurism immediately following college, Walsh warned, "I would not recommend that at all, you have no experience, you have no capital." After splitting four years of undergraduate studies between the University of Massachusetts and the University of Delaware and earning an MBA at Widener University, Walsh, himself worked for 7 years at a Philadelphia based firm called BERWIND.

Spending his time doing distressed investment banking, Walsh was able to gain valuable hands on experience that would later help him revive RiverHorse Brewery.  He eventually acquired the firm from the family that owned it before he sold it to the National City Bank in Cleveland.

Other lessons students were able to learn from Walsh include the personal and social struggles that arise from owning a business.  Currently, he is going through a divorce and he referenced the brewery as the catalyst.  

"If you have a really good idea, don't get married," Walsh joked with his audience.  

In regards to balancing personal and work lives, Walsh says, "There is no line, the business becomes your personal life."  He says that he has learned to live without a lot of sleep.  Looking back he said that everything was worth it in the end, but he warns that divorce is not a guaranteed fate for an entrepreneur.  Upon acquiring the brewery in 2007, it was on the verge of bankruptcy, and all of the risk, effort, and dedication that Walsh and his partner Glen put in to the brewery was absolutely necessary in order to salvage the dying business.

Salvage the business is an understatement for what Walsh and his partner were able to do with RiverHorse.  The duo purchased a company that was only producing 2,000 barrels (4,000 half kegs) a year.  In just under ten years they have increased production by five times the amount, producing 10,000 barrels (20,000 half kegs) last year!

Originally, Walsh and Glen tried to get the brand out there, distributing from Boston, Massachusetts all the way down to Virginia.  Now that they have resurrected the brand they have created a more focused market hitting Western Connecticut, Eastern Pennsylvania, all of New Jersey, and the five boroughs of New York.  They have also managed to throw at least 4-5 different brews on the shelves of most local liquor stores with number still remaining at 3 per store at further locations within the market.  

A few other tips that Chris Walsh left for anyone looking to enter the entrepreneurism field  include:

 1. Travel the world if possible because seeing the rest of the world allows it to shrink for you and increase opportunities to run a business easier and smoother 

2. Do not assume that people think the same way as you because that will lead to tons of miscommunication and chaos in the business

3. Taking a bell curve model and applying it to life can lead you to realize that most people are average, and that being average means you are ahead of 50% of the game

4. Make sure you hire professionals that will have a positive impact on the business you are running 

If you want to learn more about the RiverHorse Brewery, check out their website about future tour dates at http://www.riverhorse.com. **Must be 21 to attend tours**