Dave Schaeffer Offers Savvy Start-up Advice at Leaders Breakfast

February 23, 2011

While surrounded by Danish pastry, coffee and McDonough School of Business MBAs, Cogent founder and CEO Dave Schaeffer gave sound entrepreneurial suggestions to those attending the February 10 Leaders Breakfast.

“I became an entrepreneur more by accident than by design,” Schaeffer said. “My first go-around in business was in a turn-around than with a start-up.”

Schaeffer told of revitalizing his first business – a family taxi-cab company -- to launching seven companies during his career as an entrepreneur, and he verbally listed a group of fundamental principles needed to create a company. The Washington, D.C.-born CEO told students that the main rule to remember in business management is to stay mentally in-tune with company goals.

“It‘s so important to remain focused,” Schaeffer said. “It is so tempting to run from one idea to another, and from one company to another company. If you get distracted in management, your team is going to get confused.”

Schaeffer also believes a basic fundamental approach as a manager or an entrepreneur is “to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”

He ended his remarks by advising McDonough MBA students seeking to launch their own company to find a market that already exists and execute that business better, cheaper, and faster than the competition. “That is the key to a competitive advantage,” Schaeffer said. “The bottom line is, will people buy the product.”