Gathering around a single bottle of unopened red wine, students and faculty members met at the Monte Ahuja College of Business’ Weston Ideation Lab for the first Founder Fridays.
The new program is a networking event for students to meet founders, co-founders and entrepreneurs of local Cleveland businesses.
To help guide the discussion along was CLE Urban Winery founder Destiny Burns, who began her entrepreneurial endeavors a few years back with a fresh start and a simple idea. Fast forward a couple of years later, she now runs an upscale and chic winery located in the middle of the historically urban town of Cleveland Heights.
While she’s found success in being the owner of a winery, things haven’t always pointed to making a career in the food and alcohol industry.
Moving out of Ohio years ago, she spent the better part of her life as a U.S. Navy officer, serving almost 20 years in active duty. Soon after her time in the military, she explained that she went on to work for a defense companies.
At the end of her career with those companies, she faced huge changes in her personal life, so she decided to pack her bags and move back to her hometown of Euclid.
“I had always wanted a food or wine related business,” Burns said. “It was a dream of mine as I’ve traveled all over the world and I got to sample all kinds of fun things.”
“I looked at the market here in Cleveland,” she continued “And from the outside looking in, there was just such a cool, foodie environment here, and [I thought] of this concept of an urban winery.”
Describing her business as a “community center that sells wine,” she’s been able to keep that tagline going with a strict business model and an even stricter set of core values on which she runs her business.
Whether she’s finding the best flavors of wine, flavors that everyone can enjoy, to bringing in local businesses to her winery to help them get more business, she’s been able to craft her own community in her small company.
Of course, she hasn’t always had it easy creating her own business.
Between finding her own “tribe” of workers helping run the business to really learning the financial aspect of things, she’s had her fair share of figuring things out, especially when it comes to things outside of her initial idea — something she’s noted is a problem with which all future entrepreneurs struggle.
“Entrepreneurs tend to focus on [the idea,] primarily, and really, that’s the smallest part,” Burns said. “Sometimes people look at a business plan as a [checking a box] but really that is everything. Every section of that is important.”
Burns’ meeting was the first of three Founder Fridays the college of Business will be hosting during the fall 2018 semester.
The next person to participate in the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Founder Friday event is Peter Brown, founder of Six Shooter Coffee. Brown will be coming to Cleveland State to discuss the trials of creating his business on Oct. 26