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Inland entrepreneurs share what it takes to have “Spirit”

The Spirit of the Entrepreneur Awards recently held its 20th annual celebration at the Riverside Convention Center.  The event, a production by the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at California State University San Bernardino, awards top innovators from the region in nine entrepreneurial categories.

Several of this year’s winners shared their thoughts on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur on the Lou Desmond & Co. program on KMET 1490 ABC News Radio.

“Almost all of them [the winners] spoke about the long hours they put in from the beginning of their business venture and even how they love to be at work; because to be working is a sign that the business is thriving,” said host Lou Desmond.

Desmond also pointed out that almost universally successful business owners and founders started working at an early age and often had multiple jobs.

“I used to mow people’s lawns as early as eight years old,” said Bobby Teutsch of Modern Pro Solutions, which produces and installs solar equipment.

Teutsch was this year’s Distribution/Wholesale Entrepreneur winner and also took home the event’s “Best of the Best” category. Teutsch said he is focused on constantly improving the business.

“We try to automate everything and take advantage of the latest technologies to improve the customer experience and I think that sets us apart in our industry,” he said.

Many of the Spirit winners also reported having examples of entrepreneurs to look up to as role models.  Brandon Martino of Next-Gen Flight Academy in Riverside, honored with the Service-Based Entrepreneur Award, had business owners in the family tree.

“Both of my grandparents had businesses and my dad started a company when I was seven or eight years old,” Martini said. “I remember the first business I had when I was eight years old or so and I sold birdhouses, finished or unfinished at the offices of my family’s businesses.  I remember I sold them for like $25.”

Other businesses were born out of passion, necessity, and sometimes both.  Hindi Zeidman, who was honored as the Manufacturing Entrepreneur and owns The Ollie World had to come up with something that would calm her adopted special needs child, Oliver.

“Oliver was on the verge of being labeled failure to thrive and what that means is, he wasn’t hitting his developmental milestones; he wasn’t eating so he wasn’t gaining weight,” said Zeidman.  “I knew the importance of swaddling and I tried every swaddle out there and nothing worked for him.  So, I set out and created my own.  It had a very positive impact on his life and that started my pathway to creating a company around the product.”

The family usually plays a role in a business’s success and this year’s winners are no different.

“My siblings and I all worked in the business from an early age.  My brother and sister started younger than I did and I was working at age thirteen,” said Javier Vasquez the CEO of Miguel’s Jr. and one of the two Legacy award winners. “We have all done most every job in the business which makes it possible to understand everyone’s role in the business and to be a better leader.”

All of the Spirit winners shared how hard it is sometimes to be a business owner, but that they would not trade the long hours, stress, and “all-in” commitment it takes.

“What is great about being an entrepreneur and a business owner is the freedom,” Martini said. “The freedom to make all the choices, the freedom to do the things you want to do and make the choices you want to make, that for me is the best part.”


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