We invited both 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees Jon Yarbrough and Rev. Becca Stevens back to the EC to share a their stories on our EC Podcast. Listen and/or read the highlights below.
Jon Yarbrough Inducted into the 2015 EC Hall of Fame
In 2014, as the lone stockholder and the company having no debt, Jon Yarbrough sold Video Gaming Technologies (VGT) for $1.3 billion in an all-cash deal. Currently he runs his venture capital firm Yarbrough Capital. After the Hall of Fame inductee ceremony at the EC, Yarbrough shared some of the most pivotal moments at the beginning of his career including what he describes as one of his lowest moments in the business and how we overcame that failure.
Read a few of the highlights below:
Clark: So when was it when you found yourself getting into casino gaming?
Jon Yarbrough: Out of college I had a few games, but not a lot of money. I would buy and sell used games. I had some customers in South Carolina that were buying from me, where it was legal for games. At the time I had some talented technicians who said they could do a little programing so I gave them a shot. We started on the project and thought it would take a couple months, but it took two years. The game did extremely well and that’s how I got into the business.
Clark: Like all entrepreneurs, you have been at a low moment in your business where you could have quit or kept going. Could you take us through that moment you shared tonight?
Jon: I had formed VGT in 1991 and two years later I ran out of money. I couldn’t raise any capital, I had to let my team go and I handed over the keys to the building. I was depressed and basically laid around my house, until one day I decided to go get two books written by entrepreneurs: Think and Grow Rich and Acres of Diamonds. These books really gave me inspiration, and I decided to get back in the game. Although I had almost no money, I hired a programmer to help me make a game inside my garage and I threw it on my truck and drove to South Carolina. I made three deals with the largest operators who’d I done business with, and luckily they all gave me deposit checks because I had no money to fulfill their orders. I grew the business from there and just had to figure out how to bootstrap it.
Rev. Becca Stevens Inducted into the 2015 EC Hall of Fame
Rev. Becca Stevens, founding director of Thistle Farms, shared about staying true to your values and growing a social enterprise business. Below you can read some highlights including her approach to social enterprises and her advice to other entrepreneurs.
Clark: When you accepted your award, there were two things that you shared: Love is good business, and love heals. How is that embedded in your business?
Becca: Thistle Farms has just made it so much easier to talk about how love heals because I’ve witnessed it. It’s good news for young entrepreneurs wondering, “Can I live to my ideals and still have a great company?” Thistle Farms is enabling women to heal, and contribute back to their community, and proves that you can stay true to your ideals and own a great company. It has been a huge gift being able to watch this community grow on it’s own.
Clark: What advice would you give yourself 20 years ago when you started?
Becca: I didn’t grow up an entrepreneur, and I’m thankful that I didn’t understand any business models. I just made our product and sold it, that’s it. The only advice that I have is that you should keep it simple and don’t stress.
You can contact Becca Stevens on Twitter @RevBeccaStevens.
Photos by The Photo Jones.
Read more about this year’s Inductee Class to the EC Hall of Fame in the Nashville Post: EC Hall of Fame: The Class of 2015.