Serial entrepreneur Mukesh Patel knows how to start a business, run a business, expand a business. So why did he attend UCEDC’s Entrepreneurial Training Initiative?
“The more I interact with entrepreneurs at all stages of the game, including start-ups, the better I understand their challenges and opportunities for success,” he said.
Patel’s answer demonstrates his understanding that being an expert doesn’t mean being all-knowing. UCEDC’s Entrepreneurial Training Initiative (ETI) helps even the most experienced business owners better position themselves for success.Patel’s latest venture is SuccessThinkTank.com, a social entrepreneurship enterprise. Its first initiative, JuiceTank.com, focuses on helping high school and college students connect their passions and talents with entrepreneurial efforts. As the students achieve their own success—with help from JuiceTank.com conferences, workshops, and face-to-face sessions with well-connected professionals and mentors—they are encouraged to “Share it Forward” and mentor other students going through similar experiences.
Patel’s wife and business partner, Hettle, steered him toward
UCEDC after seeing an article in the local paper. Patel, who had already achieved great success as an attorney, private equity principal and angel investor, recognized the opportunity before him.“It was helpful to be in a disciplined environment with others going through the pains of entrepreneurship, because my venture is helping students with entrepreneurship,” he explained. “I got great insight from seeing the process from their viewpoint.”
ETI--the entrepreneurial training arm of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority--helps start-ups and established businesses learn sound business practices. The initiative offers intensive six-week workshops that address various aspects of business ownership.
Entrepreneurship 101 instructs would-be owners on researching and testing the feasibility of a business idea, crafting a business plan and understanding what’s involved in business ownership.
Next Level Business Planning helps existing owners go from surviving to thriving businesses. Participants learn how to create marketing and operational plans, financial projections and effective strategies to meet current conditions and future trends.
While Patel recognized the benefits of those workshops, what he found most helpful was UCEDC’s wealth of resources and relationships with experts in management, marketing, lending and more.
“The contacts and networking leads were very beneficial,” he said. “Thanks to UCEDC, I attended the New Jersey Social Entrepreneurship Summit and walked away with a conceptual blueprint for my venture. All the pieces came together for me. I might not have known about that summit if it hadn’t been for Robin Preisler, the business development director at UCEDC.”
But before he even got to that point, he had several conversations with Erich Peter, director of UCEDC’s training division and his team, to brainstorm through a list of potential business opportunities.
“I had several ideas that I kicked around with them,” Patel said. “Ultimately, I went where my passion led me.”
Going For-Profit to Help Non-Profits
What makes Patel passionate is his ability to be a social entrepreneur, running a for-profit enterprise affiliated with charitable foundations.
“There are certain restrictions on non-profits that limited our creative approach,” he explained. “By being for-profit, we have the flexibility and ability to grow exponentially with the help of venture funding and equity participation. We can then donate to non-profits that share our vision and mission, and we can seed-fund student initiatives so they can be successful and share it forward.”
Being for-profit also makes the business attractive to profit-focused professionals and companies, he added. Some have donated their expertise – updating the company’s website, signing on to mentor students or contributing office space for workshops - all necessary to the business’s success but also eventual money-making opportunities for the partners.
Meanwhile, Patel is exploring the opportunity to work with UCEDC to design ETI curriculum to help entrepreneurs in the advanced stages of business ownership. He recognizes that while the existing ETI program offered him valuable assistance, his advanced entrepreneurial experience could help UCEDC be relevant to even more people.
Take a look at Patel’s inaugural effort to encourage student entrepreneurship and success skills at www.JuiceTank.com
If you own a business or are thinking about taking the entrepreneurial plunge, UCEDC’s Entrepreneurial Training Initiative may be just what you need to succeed. Learn more.