Seth Meinzen – Co-founder of EvisThrive

[quote style=”boxed”]Evaluate experiences! Every time in life or business that I experience a strong positive or negative emotion, I ask my self why. At great events where the experiences draw you in, I evaluate what makes them so great and how do they make me and others feel. This is the single greatest market research tool that I have ever found, and it helps drive a lot of what we offer to clients![/quote]

Seth Meinzen, co-founder of EvisThrive, a company that helps communities across the country develop their own “entrepreneurial ecosystems” by organizing and activating networks to accelerate business creation and growth. The result is enhanced economic development, stronger businesses, more local jobs, increased business and community revenues and a more cohesive community.

During the past five years, Seth has built more than 10 businesses, taking one startup full-circle to a sale. Seth is now funneling his entrepreneurial passion and experience into helping communities across the country grow their entrepreneurs through a proven system that connects city governments, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and investors with the entrepreneurs in those communities. Additionally, entrepreneurs are connected to events and resources, including a series of guided pathways that help them start, build, and grow their business.

What are you working on right now?

Currently we are working on EvisThrive, an Entrepreneur Ecosystem program to be implemented within communities or corporations (coined intrapreneurship) that is both sustainable and community-led. EvisThrive is the only known ecosystem that can help a community accelerate entrepreneurialism, create new jobs, grow businesses, and basically rebuild an economy under 6 months. Thats not to say it fixes the economy 6 months, as economic growth is an on going effort, but it creates measurable results starting within 6 months.

The best part of all, at least for me, is that within the ecosystem is a pathway to help entrepreneurs get guidance from their local community to start and grow their businesses; from coaching, mentoring, investment capital, events and promotion, and resources. Even better the ecosystem brings the resources to the entrepreneur, and does not make you work to find them or prove your credibility. Its the system I dreamed about when I was launching my first business!

Where did the idea for EvisThrive come from?

Essentially I failed in a startup (the crash and burn variety) over a 4-year period, and a buddy sold two companies during the same period for millions! I thought, that can’t be luck. There has to be something that serial entrepreneurs learn that increases the success of any startup. If I could find that “something” bottle it and then sell it, I bet I could help other entrepreneurs be successful…and make some money as well!

The concept just kept on being built over a 7 year period till now we have the startup and growth pathways to aid entrepreneurs, as well as mentor, coaching, investor, and service networks and bottled system to allow any community to become a local version of a Silicon Valley!

What does your typical day look like?

Typically wake up at 7:30am and get to the office by 9:00am (not a morning person, so it take s a bit to get moving.) Begin by reading the Bible till 9:30. Then review linkedin and social media activities to promote the business and get caught up on email till noon (or at least try)! Usually will either meet with a prospective city or entrepreneur for lunch, then off to client, partner, or sales meeting!

Then head home around 6pm to hang out with the wife and catch a workout. Then back to working on projects I didn’t finish from 9pm to 2am.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Good question. Actually have the ideal process built out at, as it is part of the solution we offer.

Personally I am always thinking, so I take a bit of an abbreviated process. So I start by vetting my ideas ASAP. So I will ask someone that I know will be brutally honest what they think, sometimes even before I have fully fleshed the idea out. This kills most of my bad ideas (ok most of my ideas) and those that are still alive I will wrap a quick brand or presentation together and pitch it to potential customers to get an idea of how long it will take to achieve revenues. From there I will begin to build the product or service from there budgeting what I need from either investment or revenues from the business. I like to sell ahead of the build, as it lets me know what to expect if I were to spend the time an money to build it. (I mean, what’s the worst that can happen, I get a lot of sales and have to build the deliverable. Sounds like every entrepreneurs dream there!)

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The receding world economy! Not because of the pain it is causing, of course, but for the massive opportunity of innovations that is bound to follow! Social Entrepreneurialism is taking off like crazy, the world’s markets have a lot of pain, and the innovations are beginning to be embraced. 2013 is going to be an exciting time for EvisThrive and many, many other businesses and communities!

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Was a Mover in Philadelphia, while rowing for PennAC. Rowed crew in the mornings for 3-hours, worked a 10-hour shift, and then rowed in the evenings for 3-hours. I learned that just because you work you butt off, doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to make a lot of money! Also realized that working hard doesn’t mean that you will be successful. Got to be smart and take time off! (Actually was cut from the top squad in rowing, because I was so exhausted from moving heavy objects all day.)

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Great question, and impossible to answer! If I knew then what I know now, A LOT! But since it doesn’t work that way, I think that my journey helped me become what I am today! So I wouldn’t change much. (Except for maybe wining the lottery or something if I could make that happen!)

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Meet with close advisors and mentors, that provide me an unbiased perspective for where I am and what I need to do to grow.
Evaluate experiences! Every time in life or business that I experience a strong positive or negative emotion, I ask my self why. At great events where the experiences draw you in, I evaluate what makes them so great and how do they make me and others feel. This is the single greatest market research tool that I have ever found, and it helps drive a lot of what we offer to clients!

What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Resistance to change. When trying to get an industry to buy a new market innovation, the target customer was very hard to convince to make a purchase decision. It wasn’t that they thought or perceived harm would come or that it was worse than what they were using, or even that it costed to o much. The unknown just scared them away from making a buying decision. So we would give them a small peak into the change first hand but at a safe distance to show them how much better their life could be. (Essentially we built and event for entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and coaches to interact and the target customers were given the credit. The customers got so much appreciation, praise, and even down stream benefits that they wanted to sign the agreement to get more of that type of attention.) So giving the nervous potential customer a sample of the good experience made the change not seem so daunting or scary!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Business Training within the Institutional space. Currently Universities are quietly ramping up professional development & training content that is for certificates and not for a degree. This type of training is already sought after by major corporations and is becoming more sought after. I have heard from multiple University Presidents that they are seeking private entities to partner with and believe that professional development (or workforce development) classes will be a major if not biggest source of institutional revenues in the next 5-10 years. Even startups can get connected up to work with universities to create certificate based training, so it is an early evolving market space this is trending to get hot!

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

People’s perspective and attitudes to change! Some of the best products and services never make it to the mainstream markets, because people are unwilling to change.

Tell us a secret.

I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive, and Tourettes as a child. In High school my Guidance Counselor told me that my best case scenario for a career was a gas station attendant…hahaha…that seriously happened. (Thanks Mom and Dad for not letting me quit, EVER!)

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

I am not that sophisticated in this department, so…
Audible – Allows me to download books to learn when I am on long drives and flights.
Linkedin Groups – Allows me to interact and learn from experts from around the world
Gmail – For obvious reasons

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Ready, Aim, Fire – It gives a great perspective for what entrepreneurs need to do, and it is also one of the scariest things for those that have been trained or tenured in Corporate America. It’s a great reality check for aspiring entrepreneurs and affirmation for those already in the entrepreneurial trenches.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Good Question. Don’t use Twitter as much as I should. But these three guys are all marketing experts and have provided my with great insights that have helped me grow business!
Chris Kovac
Travis Wright
Robb Murry

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

A month ago during a volleyball game, there was a husband and wife team that were fighting after losing a point. The husband went to kick the volleyball back to the other team (also perhaps to kick off some steam) and he shanked the ball and kicked it straight into his wife’s face. I felt bad, but was laughing so hard I started to cry! (good times, good times.)

Who is your hero?

My Parents and my wife. The three people have been more supportive and loving in some of the rough times in my life. They have great hearts and have kept me believing in my self and in my faith in God! (I would be lost without them!)

What’s next?

EvisThrive is working to expand internationally! We are also working on some other ecosystem models to help solve workforce challenges (or opportunities as I see them!) Should be a great 2013, and we are having an absolute blast!

What’s your passion?

I absolutely love helping people and meeting someone new. There is nothing greater than learning about someone new and then seeing if there is a way you can help them! To me it is the single greatest experience, and it just so happens to be a free one in life!

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