By: Sakina Stamper, Contributor
On Tuesday November 3, 2015, the University of Baltimore welcomed James L. Speros to the Student Center as he shared with students, faculty, and staff some insight on what his life has been like as an entrepreneur. Fully armed with an elaborate Power Point presentation, he took the audience on a journey from working in his family restaurant as a child to becoming the multi-millionaire entrepreneur that he is today. Mr. Speros captured the attention of an audience full of business minded individuals, executives, students, and aspiring entrepreneurs within the UB family.
If you have never been to a Merrick Engages talk series before, this one would certainly make you hungry for more. The experiences, information, and knowledge Mr. Speros shared unwrapped minds and fed entrepreneurial souls. He began his talk by discussing what inspired him to become an entrepreneur. Growing up with a family restaurant business, founded by his grandfather, inspired him to become an entrepreneur. Mr. Speros said “I knew my family was different from the family across the street”.
Mr. Speros restaurant business experience helped to prepare him for his latest business venture, Velocity Wings. Velocity Wings is a gourmet wing restaurant that is set to be available as a franchise in 2016. When asked whether it is in the pipeline for Velocity Wings to hit Baltimore in the near future, Mr. Speros alluded to the possibility. “I’m good at running restaurants” he said.
Mr.Speros was excellent at running the Baltimore Stallions, turning the naysayers into believers because he had a vision and followed it. He shared that one of the biggest lessons he learned was to “be able to communicate your dream and vision”. According to him, if you cannot communicate this, you will not be able to create a following full of believers. He stated that in business you must be able to identify your “first follower”: someone who believes in your vision to the extent of being committed to supporting your vision in some capacity whether it is as a customer or even an investor.
It is apparent that Mr.Speros is pretty good at doing this, and he encourages the action of creating relationships that will aid in a career as an entrepreneur. His relationships with the NFL, Under Armour, IBM, and ESPN have helped him with several business ventures over the course of his career. Additionally, Mr.Speros encourages entrepreneurs to have mentors. His mentors such as Jack Kemp (one of his previous business mentors) have been instrumental in his life. “A mentor is a very, very important thing to be a successful entrepreneur. To ask questions and get the answers you need,” he said. Mr. Speros also shared that “without relationships you’re not going to go very far. If you have the right relationships, you’ll find the path to success.”
Mr.Speros had an incredible amount of knowledge to share, and there seemed to be something for everyone to learn. After the talk concluded, when asked what he learned, Brody, a UB disciplinary studies major said, “to try and focus what you know and love into something you can evolve.”
The room was full of excitement and everyone was fully engaged in the speaking of Mr. Speros. His natural dialogue created a connection between him and the audience. The Merrick Engages series has served as motivational tools for aspiring and current entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur has to stay motivated because the moment your motivation decreases, and that will be reflected in your performance. UB students were motivated from Mr.Speros talk including Malik, an UB accounting major. When asked whether the talk motivated him, he responded, “Absolutely, I mean he’s a Baltimore entrepreneur. Getting entrepreneurs like him to speak to us gives us something to aspire to.”
Whether your dream is “to be able to create a nonprofit for high school kids” like Paiva, a UB accounting major, or whether it is to be a serial entrepreneur, these “Merrick Engages” talk series are here to help students achieve those goals. By bringing in inspiring entrepreneurs such as James L. Speros, students are able to learn about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.