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Welcome to the WISE newsletter, a program of
The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

WISE 2008: Maxine Clark, Founder, Build-a-Bear Workshops

Today was the 6th annual WISE Symposium with more than 700 attendees (referred to as "delegates"). Nola Miyasaki, from Syracuse University, opened the event. She noted that entrepreneurship was a lot like Zen philosophy. It must be practiced daily. There are intense periods. And you should practice it with others. In comparing it was Taoism, she noted that entrepreneurship is a way of being.

Nancy Cantor, Chancellor of Syracuse University, then welcomed the group. She noted that women entrepreneurs are the sector in business start-ups that are growing the most, but that women-owned businesses are not growing big. She also noted that we live in a region where women have historically been collaborative. Women today also need to think about collaborating -- formally and informally -- in order to grow successful businesses.

Nola then introduced Donna Adamo, from WTVH-TV, who was the emcee for the event.

The first speaker was Maxine Clark, Founder, Build-a-Bear Workshops. Clark, who was a successful corporate executive, started Build-a-Bear after shopping one day with her daughter. The experience led her to think about a business where people could build their own stuffed animals. From her past corporate experience, she knew where to source the materials, etc.

Build-a-Bear began in fall 1997. In 2003, the company opened its first international store. In 2004, they launched a national ad campaign and had stored on four continents. In 2007, revenues topped $400 million and there were 370 stores worldwide. Now Build-a-Bear has an online virtual world called BuildaBearville.com.

Here are some highlights from her speech:
  • "Retailing is entertainment and the store is a stage. When the customer has fun, they spend more money." Stanley Goodman
  • Make your employees part of the product.
  • Hire people who care.
  • Empower kids to make a difference.
  • In order to stay in the lead, you have to keep leading.
  • If you live your imagination, the your life will be a dream come true.
  • As a business owner, get the correct insurance for your business.
  • Use your money appropriately.
  • Have a good business plan and use it to convince yourself.

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Blogger B. Wright said...

This was a great post. I had no idea that the Build-a-Bear creator was a woman. Very inspiring and informative to see women at the helm of successful businesses.

11:17 AM  

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