Elgin Community College celebrates Global Entrepreneurship


Jason Shaw

Professor Glen Earl leading the discussion on global entrepreneurship.

Cory Bray, Staff Writer

It is 2 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur. While the rest of the Malaysian capital dims its lights and retires for the evening, a light remains aglow in Jeff Hoffman’s hotel room. Hoffman, serial entrepreneur and founder of Priceline.com, has one more business call on his agenda: serving as the keynote speaker for Elgin Community College’s Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Hoffman addressed an audience of ECC entrepreneurship and business students via Google Hangout on Nov. 18, during an event coordinated by professor Glen Earl.

Hoffman’s expertise were called upon to address the entrepreneurial mindset.

“Entrepreneurs are the people who, when they see a problem in the world, ask if it’s bothering anyone else, find out how much it’s worth to them, then they find a solution,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman revealed how he discovered his first business by standing in line at the airport as a 20-year-old.  He wanted to improve the process airline passengers went through to retrieve their boarding pass at the airport.

That idea was the birth of what we now know to be the automated bordering pass stations.

“The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs is talent: finding the right talent and the right minds to move an idea forward,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman suggested that the key to being an entrepreneur is networking.

“Get out more. The more you’re out, the more likely you are to stumble on a problem that needs to be solved,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman also recommended that people stop trying to master too much at once.

“Win a gold medal at something, meaning be great at one thing and then expand to other things,” said Hoffman. “If you’re trying to do six things at once, each thing is going to get one-sixth of the attention.”

Co-Founder of Blue Moon Estates, David Blue, also offered his interpretation of the entrepreneurial mindset at the event, followed by ECC student presentations on social entrepreneurship and student start-ups.

During the question and answer session, students sought advice on scaling a business.

“To scale a business you have to move yourself out of the way and empower people and let them take ownership,” said Hoffman. “Your job as a leader is to build a place where the best people in your industry want to work for you and no one else.”

Past Global Entrepreneurship Week celebrations were led by the students in the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization. This year’s event was conducted by Professor Glen Earl and his classes; consequently, there was a huge drop in attendance.

“Last year was way better,” said attendee Demitris Smith. “People only came to this event because they were offered extra credit.”

The event concluded with the recognition of women entrepreneurs and a women’s entrepreneurship discussion panel.