The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Business leader shares entrepreneurial insight


Alan Shor, co-founder and president of The Retail Connection, spoke at SMU on Wednesday. (ELLEN SMITH / The Daily Campus)” height=”222

Serial entrepreneur and investor Alan Shor shared his experience at Teavana Holdings Inc., a specialty tea and tea accessory chain, at a SMU Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Club meeting on Wednesday.

The across campus club that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit invited Shor to be the first speaker of the semester because Shor has worked as both an entrepreneur and an investor.

“We wanted someone who was involved in a business that all of the students had heard of, had created tremendous wealth for the entrepreneur and was international,” Simon Mak said. Mak teaches entrepreneurship in the department of strategy and entrepreneurship in the Cox School of Business and sponsors the club.

Shor wanted the audience to take away two things from his lecture.

First, he wanted to instill confidence in the students. “I want them to think that they can do it and this isn’t some pipe dream,” Shor said. “There are real people who have done incredible things with an idea and a passion and a disciple and a focus. If Andy Mack can do it, if these kind of people can do it, start businesses and make them wild successful, I can too.”

Shor helped founders Andy and Nancy Mack develop Teavana from a 12-store-operation across eight states to a company with over 300 stores in three countries.

After failed talks to several larger companies such as Starbucks, Whole Foods and McDonalds, Teavana filed for an IPO July 2011. The Atlanta based retailer sold 20 percent of the company and kept 80 percent ownership. The 20 percent they sold, returned their investment five times. “Ironically, a year later, after Starbucks didn’t want to talk to us, they made us an offer,” Shor said.

Starbucks bought Teavana for $620 million effective Dec. 31, 2012. Mack’s net worth increased from $20 million to $400 million. “That’s just a great example of entrepreneurship,” he said.

According to Shor, entrepreneurship is not about luck. Rather, it is about finding the right business idea, putting together a great plan, finding strategic capital, building the right team at the right time and when that business grows, knowing when to exit.

Shor has worked with a number of companies including Zales, where he served as the COO, board member and president. Shor, former adjunct professor at SMU’s Cox School of Business, is currently the co-founder and president of The Retail Connection. The Retail Connection is a Dallas based retail brokerage, development and investment firm.

Christopher Fish, a junior majoring in advertising and a member of the club, found both the investment and entrepreneurial sides of business intriguing. “It was interesting to hear about the process of investing and the difference between a serious entrepreneur and an entrepreneur who is not too serious about his work,” Fish said.

Secondly, Shor wanted audience members to be curious about things. “You want people to ask questions and to want to learn,” he said. “Being an entrepreneur is learning. It’s learning everyday.”

Fish thought curiosity was the most important thing to being a good entrepreneur and maintaining a long-term business financially. “I think it’s being able to take that original curiosity of how to solve a problem or innovating in a certain industry and maintaining it with your passion,” Fish said.

Shor hopes that his presentation gave students great examples of things they could do and the belief they can accomplish similar things. “In 10 years, if I could see them on the cover of Ink, Forbes, or Fortune, I‘d be the happiest guy around,” Shor said.

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