Venture Voice – interviews with entrepreneurs

Entertaining Entrepreneurship

VV Show #8 – Kelly Perdew, Winner of The Apprentice

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If someone told us to listen to business insights from a former game show contestant back in the day when The Price is Right was the closest thing to a televised business competition, we would have laughed in their face. Since then The Apprentice has attracted many ambitious young professionals to do battle for a spot in the Trump Organization. The winners have all been entrepreneurs, and Kelly’s resume has the word ‘founder’ repeated more than enough times to qualify him as a serial entrepreneur. Kelly is the winner of The Apprentice 2 and is seven weeks into his apprenticeship with the Trump Organization.


1:10 Career beginnings in the Army

  • Went to West Point.
  • Signed up for the Army at age 17 1/2.

3:25 Getting an MBA/JD

4:15 First venture

  • ImageTel International, Inc.
  • Raised half million in venture capital while in school.
  • ‘I can attribute a number of my successes to the training I received’ in the Army.

6:30 Worked at Deloitte Consulting (then called Braxton Group)

  • ‘I was always the one at the company meetings with my hand up asking when we were going to do profit sharing.’

8:30 Worked at eteamz

  • Won business plan competition at UCLA.
  • Raised about $1 million from the Tech Coast Angels.
  • Raised about $4 million more from venture capitalists.
  • ‘The only two sports sites that had more than we did were CBS SportsLine and ESPN.’
  • Got acquired by Active.com.
  • ‘You can have the best idea in the world, and a fantastic team assigned to you ‘ and I do believe that you make your own luck ‘ but market timing really is very important.’

12:25 If you were filmed while you were working on all these entrepreneurial ventures, would you come off the way that you did on The Apprentice?

  • ‘I guess it depends who’s editing it… just kidding.’
  • ‘I could see a little bit of myself and my past in each of the other candidates: Raj‘s wanting to be the center of attention. Andy‘s creativity in coming up with ideas. John‘s passion for stuff. Kevin‘s work ethic.’

13:35 Change

  • ‘I understand that decisions have to be made with imperfect information.’
  • ‘I trust my gut a lot more then I used to.’
  • ‘You know when you know.’
  • ‘At eteamz we kept one of those spin dials on the wall that would either be a smiley face or frowney face.’

16:35 Pre-Apprentice enterprises

  • Started MotorPride by bootstrapping.
  • CEO of CoreObjects that built software for software companies.
  • ‘Seven or eight years ago venture capitalists wouldn’t give you money if you were developing your software offshore because they were concerned about the intellectual property. Now they require it.’
  • ‘CoreObjects took advantage of that.’

19:00 Risk of appearing on The Apprentice

21:00 Appearing on The Apprentice

  • Being an entrepreneur ‘helped us [Bill Rancic and I] to excel in the different tasks.’
  • ‘I did not attempt to be entertaining.’

24:00 The technology industry vs. real estate

  • ‘I am definitely going to be spending a lot more time in real estate.’

24:40 Trump projects

26:55 Business vs. entertainment

  • On Trump’s firing style: ‘That’s for the cameras and that’s a big part of the show.’

27:30 On New York

  • ‘New York is the center of the business universe.’

28:00 Trump Organization

  • ‘I think that sometime down the road Mr. Trump and I’ll be working on stuff together.’

29:00 What’s next?

30:30 Book deal

32:40 Apprentice’s impact on America

  • ‘The Apprentice allows for Monday morning quarterbacking for business.’

36:20 To do list for today

36:45 The future

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