A sold out audience of over 450 people packed Ithaca College on April 8th at the first UVANY student entrepreneur event. Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO, Chobani, delivered a rousing keynote address followed by 9 strong “pitches” from student entrepreneurs from an array of CNY Universities and Colleges.
“There is no better country in the world to make it happen…and there is no better place in the country than Upstate, NY to make it happen,” stated Hamdi in regards to launching a new business/concept.
Hamdi offered several memorable insights into the entrepreneurial mindset, what it means, and what it takes to be an entrepreneur:
On when to start a business, “Something has to bother you and make you elevated; if you can’t sleep and get the idea out of you.”
How entrepreneurs are different, “We [entrepreneurs] look at things differently than [other] people think.”
On getting the courage to start and keep going, “You have elevated yourself above common sense.”
Hamdi believes that Upstate NY is the best place to start a business for many reasons, including the diverse mix of backgrounds and cultures of the people living here. He stated that the mindset, towns and stories dating back to the early American days are still alive and thriving in Upstate, NY. The people are still connected to nature, the world, and open to people from other backgrounds and cultures. There is so much history rooted in the towns across Upstate, NY that has made this country what it is.
With humor sprinkled throughout, Hamdi spoke of his first day on the job with his first 5 employees. “They asked me what I had planned or what I was going to do…I said…let’s paint the walls.” Later Hamdi referenced the painting of the walls stating, “If you don’t know where to start, then paint the walls, and while you’re painting them, think of what you will do next.”
“Money is not a good enough reason to start a business. You must have a reason to go to work everyday, treat your community and consumers with care, and do things right,” stated Hamdi.
Before leaving the stage, the CEO of one of the fastest growing companies in history said, “The action of something is doing something.” He ended his remarks with a quote from the famous Sufi poet Rumi, saying, “If you start walking, the way appears.”
We agree Hamdi…Upstate, NY is the best place in the country for entrepreneurs to thrive, and yes it is because of the people, and the history-filled communities we live in.
By: Jonathan Grutka