Five Questions For … Nick Kennedy, Founder of Dallas-Based Rise

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few great people that you can’t call up and ask for advice and they won’t give it to you. If you give them a legitimate story, they will find time to help you.

X: Where do you think your drive comes from?

NK: I’m very curious by nature, and very focused on big picture things. I don’t want to do anything that’s been done before. I don’t know where that comes from other than I’m curious about why things haven’t been done a certain way.

I’m also a little bit annoyed by things that are broken. The best businesses in the world do one thing very well—they fix people’s problems. I hear this story over and over again amongst entrepreneurs, ‘I had a problem and I couldn’t get it fixed easily so I turned it into a business.’ Everybody gets annoyed. Entrepreneurs take that annoyance and say, How can I turn a business out of this. Annoyance is the greatest characteristic an entrepreneur can have because it makes you ask questions in a manner that leads to potential businesses.

I don’t come from money—I come from the opposite of money. I love the idea of coming from nothing and creating something, not only for myself but also for the 50 employees I have. That’s the greatest honor I can think of.

Entrepreneurs are eternal optimists. You have to be because there’s so many reasons why you shouldn’t do this.

X: What’s your biggest failure as an entrepreneur?

NK: I’ve got about 1,000 of them; which one do you want? One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the first company that I was involved in starting, and I’m speaking for myself. I wanted to build a company and sell it and makes lots of money, period. And we did, in a very quick time period. At the time, I was a king of the world in my own small mind.

Looking back now a decade removed from the situation, it was a very shallow experience for me. Inevitably, the money comes and goes. The older we get, money is less valuable. Time became more valuable. I spent years of my life giving everything I had towards [that company], and the company we sold it to ran it into the ground. And it doesn’t exist anymore. I gave up several years of my life doing that, and we didn’t create anything that was long-term.

I would argue it was because I wanted to make a lot of money, because … Next Page »

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