Encounters with Entrepreneurs: Business owners off insight to students

Posted on Apr 3 2014 - 9:28am by Guest Writer

By Katelynn Padron, Business Writer

Three Seattle area businessmen offered their insights on successful entrepreneurship to students March 12.

The school of arts and communication and school of business hosted the panel in the Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Studio Theater.

Approximately 15 students and guests were in attendance.

Mark Canlis from Canlis Restaurant, Jeff Jorgenson from Elemental Cremation and Burial and Ross Mickel from Ross Andrew Winery discussed their entrepreneurship ventures.

Mark Canlis and his brother Brian Canlis are the third generation owners of Canlis Restaurant.

The Canlis’ grandfather opened the fine dining restaurant in the 1950s.

According to its website, Canlis is a “dressy” establishment where men are required to don suit jackets in order to sit at a window table.

Mark Canlis said he pursued entrepreneurship because he enjoys it.

“It’s a privilege to work for yourself,” Mark Canlis said. “You set the tone, the values, the ethos of the place, and that’s who you become.”

Mark Canlis spoke about the importance of cultivating relationships with customers.

Panel member Jorgenson runs a funeral home that has an eco-friendly approach. Elemental Cremation and Burial uses carbon neutral cremation practices and offers to plant trees in honor of the deceased.

Jorgenson said he became an entrepreneur in order to improve the industry by giving decision making power to families.

“If you’re going to sit around and complain about it,” Jorgenson said, “you might as well do something about it.”

Jorgenson said “rigid type-A” personalities won’t flourish in entrepreneurship because “you really have to be super flexible.”

As an entrepreneur, Jorgenson said, “you’re always on tornado watch,” in case problems arise.

The last panel participant, Mickel, owns the award-winning Ross Andrew Winery. Its website describes an intimate group of executive staff members, one of whom is Mickel’s Bernese Mountain Dog, Galena.

Mickel cultivated his passion for wine under Canlis Restaurant’s wine expert, Rob Bigelow.  Mickel said he started Ross Andrew Winery because he was interested in being able to create something on his own.

Mickel said the most important thing about entrepreneurship is creating a team.

“Get people who are better than you at the things you don’t want to do,” Mickel said.

Amy Young, associate professor of communication, moderated the panel.

Entrepreneurship is a relevant topic, because “it’s part of the American dream,” Young said. “Since 2008, we saw a lot of people lose everything.”

She said entrepreneurship is a way to cultivate something for the future.

Senior Nichole Thompson, who attended the lecture, said she most enjoyed hearing about Canlis Restaurant.

“It’s a great atmosphere,” Thompson said. “It’s a staple part of Seattle.”

Thompson said she enjoyed hearing the background on how Canlis maintains its customer relationships.

The Entrepreneurship Panel was part of the 2014 SOAC Focus Series entitled “Entrepreneurship – the Pursuit of Opportunity.”

The next event in the series is MediaLab’s new documentary “Tapped Out” which explores entrepreneurial solutions to water-related problems.

“Tapped Out” will be in the Studio Theater April 10 at 7 p.m.