“How would you take $1,000 and turn it into a million dollars in sales in one year?”
Andrea Lake posed this brain-tickling challenge to an intimate group of students at the latest Deming Center Lunch-n-Learn. It’s a question near and dear to her, as she’s had to do a similar exercise at multiple points during her fascinating career as an entrepreneur.
Andrea started her career at just 18 years old, and has since founded nearly a dozen companies, including YogaJunkie, MentorMojo, and StickerJunkie. She was a participant on The Apprentice reality TV show with now President Trump, and has built a reputation as a hugely successful entrepreneur.
Her pathway to becoming a millionaire started with a t-shirt company. Andrea figured out a formula to scaling a business using minimal employees and overhead, and maximizing profits. She’s maintained exclusive contracts with video game and TV show merchandising, including The Walking Dead and MineCraft merchandise. She also capitalized on the dot com bubble, running one of the first custom online sticker companies in the world.
Perhaps most shocking to a group of entrepreneurship students was the news that through her many ventures, she has never once raised capital, instead always using her own cash to fund her companies. This way, she’s always maintained a true sense of the value of the cash going in and out of her businesses—it’s not some wealthy investor’s cash she’s burning; it’s her own.
No successful entrepreneur is without their own share of failures, and as Andrea told our crew of students, she’s no exception. She’s had a few businesses tank, and shared openly how difficult these experiences can be both financially and emotionally. Her advice? Surround yourself with a network of friends and professionals who have shared the same tough situations and will help you get back on your feet.
The Deming Center’s recurring series of Lunch-n-Learns all follow the same format: an intimate, roundtable lunch with 25 students and a local executive, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, or other person-to-know from our thriving startup community. Every guest gives the lunch their own unique flavor, posing challenges, discussions or short workshops rather than giving a traditional lecture. Andrea’s $1,000 to $1,000,000 challenge was another standout in a series full of engaging, involved lunches.