Lessons from a Young Entrepreneur
Brent Schafer, CEO & Founder, Vuevent
My business partner, Jimmy Derocher, and I met at my freshman year of college at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA and instantly became great friends. Jimmy was a computer science and mathematical economics major. I was a business major, with experience with start-ups and three international internships. We had a lot of interests in common - ping pong, video games, technology, economics, politics, etc. Our most important similarity, though, was the high level of dedication we exhibited at all we put our minds to. We couldn’t rest until we had finished what we had started, in any endeavor. It is the intrinsic motivation to follow-through that makes Jimmy and I successful partners.
Every day at Whitworth, we would receive an email from the university that detailed a couple of events going on at campus. It was terrible. Basic HTML, no images, no interactivity, no descriptions, etc. Most of the students at Whitworth treated these emails as a joke. We knew there was a better way to get students excited about events on and off campus. The idea for Vuevent was born out of our own desire to create a better connection with our peers, our university and the local businesses in the surrounding community.
When envisioning our company culture, early on, we agreed that there are three main principles that would be vital to the success of our company: communication, work ethic, and energy.
Communication: Cohesiveness within a company is extremely important, especially for start-ups. Knowing that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal keeps the company moving in a straight line. At Vuevent, every employee is under the age of 24, and multiple employees work remotely. These are factors that contribute to the success of our business, yet require hands-on management and communication. We have learned that it is crucial to have a meeting at least once a week with everyone within the company (eleven employees). Through this meeting, each person on the team gets a chance to explain their current projects, ideas, and concerns. Daily meetings with each respective department further ensure that we are on track.
Work Ethic: A start-up is only as strong as the weakest member of the team. From early on Jimmy and I agreed that no matter the outcome of Vuevent, we never wanted to look back and think, “we could have done more”. Everyone team member brought on to the company has a high-level of determination, and shares the drive to complete hard work that Jimmy and I first bonded over. Our team may be young, but it is comprised of passionate workers that are self-motivated and driven. As a passionate sports fan, I look at our team a bit like the San Antonio Spurs. When we work hard, and as a team, we can do anything.
Energy: In my mind, work ethic and energy go hand in hand, and neither can sustain without the other. At Vuevent we have a few key motivators that are good for the health of our team. They increase overall moral of the team and cultivate the culture of the company. Energy is the catalyst for hard work, and I firmly believe that energy of our team at Vuevent will take us far.
What we lack in age and experience, we make up for in unlimited drive. When I started this company with Jimmy, the only asset we had was drive. In a couple short years, we have managed to turn that drive into something spectacular, greatly due to our incredible team. Jimmy and I knew that if we built a team focused on the same characteristic of dedication that originally brought us together, we could create whatever we put our minds to.
About the Author
Brenton Shafer, 21, is a young, passionate entrepreneur. Between his junior and senior year of high school, he interned for Medall Healthcare, India. There he was under the mentorship of Raju Venkatramen, the Indian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. After high school, he interned for a year at Aditya Birla Minacs. He developed a deep knowledge of the Six Sigma processes. In the summer of 2013, he worked for a software development company, where he focused on product development. Using his extensive background started three companies: Social Uprising LLC, Shafer Derocher LLP, and Vuevent. Since launching Vuevent, he has raised $230k and built the team to 11 employees, while working with a development team in India.