You’ve started, and helped start, a number of businesses over the course of your career. What are you working on now?
I’m building a new company, “Artists & Instigators”, which will be a consumer brand. To accomplish this, I’ve partnered with Marc Ecko, who founded the billion-dollar brand “Ecko Unltd.” He is an expert in selling and marketing products. More to come next year…
Over the last decade, I’ve personally run a venture capital fund, which has invested in close to 30 companies. Most of those startups have been consumer product and technology companies. We have been fortunate to have had a number of great successes over the last decade with several of the investments we’ve made like with SeamlessWeb that was founded by a Terp alum and was acquired by ARAMARK, Take Care Health Systems that was acquired by Walgreens, and NutriSystem that was the top performing stock in the U.S. for 5 consecutive years.
As the manager of a venture capital fund, you’ve seen dozens of entrepreneur pitches. What advice do you have for someone preparing for a pitch?
Passion is the most important part of any pitch. Anyone doing a pitch must truly believe in what they’re selling and that company they work for. They have to be personally involved. It’s obvious when people are pitching a business and they don’t truly believe in what they’re saying. Whatever you do, you’ve got to believe in it. If you don’t love it, and you’re not excited about it, then you’re doing the wrong thing. That’s the kind of advice I give to people all the time. It’s very, very important for you to believe in what you’re doing. You have to love it.
Given the state of the economy, what would you say to someone considering the launch of a business?
Why not? What’s the alternative? These are the times when some of the best businesses are built. Follow your passions, follow your dreams. This is the time to go and make things happen. Yes, there are a lot of problems out there today. At the same time, it’s not like there’s a safety net in having a job. There is no loyalty from employers. It’s not personal; it’s just the way it is today. The pundits out there have dubbed this generation of kids, “The Lost Generation.” That’s just not true. Students today have skills that other generations are not capable of having because of the technologies they’ve grown up with. The employers that embrace this will be successful. Now is an opportunity for young people to go make their mark.
Why is the Dingman Center a special place?
[Managing Director] Asher Epstein and Dean Anand have really been the driving force behind entrepreneurial opportunities that you typically don’t get at other universities. The entrepreneurial spirit that Asher brings to the table is contagious. He has a real passion for helping students achieve their own goals; whether during the MBA summer trip to Israel, the various programs at Dingman, or as an advisor. Students look at him as a peer because he’s approachable. That kind of a relationship that he’s been able to have with students is a major feather in the cap of the Smith School and the University of Maryland in general. It’s a major selling point for the University.
Wayne D. Kimmel is a Founder and Managing Partner of Artists & Instigators with Marc Eckō and Tony Bifano. Wayne is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, philanthropist and tireless networker. In 1999, Wayne founded a venture capital firm that invests in startup and early-stage companies. Some of his successful investments included, SeamlessWeb (acquired by ARAMARK), Take Care Health Systems (acquired by Walgreens), and NutriSystem (NTRI), (top performing stock in the U.S. for 5 consecutive years). Currently, Wayne serves on the Board of Directors of Ecko |Code, OrganizedWisdom, Ryzing, meetMoi and KGRA Energy.
Follow Wayne on Twitter @waynekimmel