My advice is always to listen.
Chris Burch, founder and CEO of Burch Creative Capital, has been an entrepreneur and active investor across a wide range of industries for nearly forty years. He has contributed to the rise of multiple brands, including Faena Hotel + Universe, Jawbone, Tory Burch, Poppin and Voss Water.
In 2012, Burch acquired and renovated Nihiwatu, a luxury resort on the Indonesian island of Sumba, ranked in 2016 as the #1 Hotel in the World by Travel + Leisure magazine. His interest in hospitality began when he partnered with architect Philippe Stark and hotelier Alan Faena in Argentina to redevelop an underutilized parcel of land into the Faena Hotel + Universe.
In July 2014, Burch announced a partnership with Ellen DeGeneres to launch her lifestyle brand, ED by Ellen Degeneres. Later that year, he launched Cocoon9, luxury prefab homes with space-saving floor plans, contemporary design, energy efficient features, and sophisticated finishes. These endeavors join Burch’s brand portfolio which also includes the hospitality sourcing business Bur+Mah, office supply business Poppin and womens apparel and accessories brand TRADEMARK. He is currently supporting the development of other lifestyle and consumer products brands including BaubleBar, Blink Health, Brad’s Raw Foods, Chubbies, Little Duck Organics, and Soludos.
Burch was on the board of the Rothman Institute Orthopedic Foundation and is a past president of The Pierre Hotel Co-op Board. He has contributed funding toward research and philanthropic initiatives at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, NYU Langone, The Sumba Foundation, The China Association of Social Work, The Child Welfare League of China and The Henry Street Settlement.
Where did the idea for Burch Creative Capital come from?
I am a curious person by nature and I am always studying the world around me. I often notice how products and services can be improved upon. After my own success in apparel as a young adult, I decided to put my knowledge and resources to use and help other entrepreneurs with great ideas. That eventually led to my company today, Burch Creative Capital. We match ideas with funding to bring extraordinary possibilities to the world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A day is not typical for me. I might be traveling in the South Pacific to explore land for the expansion of my resort, Nihiwatu, or in Los Angeles for meetings, or in New York for updates from the companies that I invest in.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It starts with people. You have to have good people with a passion to execute. I believe that if something really has the potential to succeed, it can be done quickly.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I really appreciate the tiny house movement. That people are consolidating to live with experiences instead of things. This led to the development of Cocoon9. The same holds true for today’s Millennial traveler who is seeking culture and adventure. I’m very proud of what we’ve done with Nihiwatu to accommodate this type of consumer.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My ability to read people and get to the bottom of who they are. You can learn more about that here.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I won’t say it was the worst job but at 13-years old my father put me to work at a construction company so that I would learn the basics of construction and appreciate hard labor.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I have no regrets, but I would borrow from Thoreau and tell my younger self, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
My advice is always to listen.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Taking risks. It’s not exactly a strategy but it’s almost unavoidable if you want be groundbreaking. I’ve taken many risks, and had my share of failures, but they have gotten me to where I am today, and I am happy.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had thousands of failures. I go through a period of mourning, then reflection, then understanding. I take full credit for my failures. That clarity allows me to move forward and to keep creating and investing.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Good luck making a toilet that a woman will actually sit on in a public bathroom!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought two dozen baseball hats on The Wish . They have revolutionized sourcing and how customers can find products directly.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
My job requires me to constantly be in the mind of the consumer. So I use gadgets more than software. I especially use my iPad frequently to listen to podcasts and audio books.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
BOLD, by Peter Diamandis.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
I think Ellen DeGeneres is brilliant both in the way she connects with her audiences and her vision as a businesswoman. Ellen has a unique ability to actually leave a trail of real thoughts, real words, and real feelings long after she’s engaged with an audience. And because she has a deep feeling for an audience, she has the ability to design products that appeal to the core of America. I am also a big fan of my good friend Steve Ross. He is forward thinking and I respect him immensely. A real estate developer, he has a deep understanding of business details. But he has another quality I admire—creativity with a fire in his belly. No idea is too big or too small for Steve to embrace.
- I’ve had thousands of failures. I go through a period of mourning, then reflection, then understanding. I take full credit for my failures. That clarity allows me to move forward and to keep creating and investing.
- I have no regrets, but I would borrow from Thoreau and tell my younger self, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.