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Simons Traces Path from GWSB to Founding Farmers

Dan Simons

Dan Simons

Dan Simons, a GWSB alumnus and the winner of the first annual Distinguished Alumni Award from the student-led “Business Gives Back” for his sustainable business practices, today is a successful restauranteur and consultant.  But  it wasn’t always that way.

Speaking at the Howard Hoffman Distinguished Lecture Series, Simons, principal in the Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group (VSAG), described his path from GWSB, where he majored in international business with a communications minor and graduated in 1992, to a job with the Cheesecake Factory, to his decision to found the Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group (VSAG), a restaurant and hospitality consulting business, with his mentor and business partner, Michael Vucurevich.

“We started as a consulting service nine-and-a-half years ago with the goal to become bricks-and-mortar,” Simons said. “And we’ve got it. But not without our share of failures on the way.”

Simons disclosed that he and Vucurevich lost $800,000 of their own investment on their first restaurant project. Simons explained that “our inability to conceptualize our own failure led us to keep digging and investing.”

But they learned from their mistakes, if the success of the VSAG and the Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers restaurants, where Simon is managing partner and concept developer, is any indication.

So what did he take away from GWSB?  Simons said three important lessons were that people will judge you on your appearance – picked up after a professor told him to lose his Boston accent – that working for a corporation instead of a small business provides invaluable experience, and that taking action is critical.

“Finally, a professor told me ‘you don’t know anything’,” Simons said. “I recognized that I needed to learn to do something, not just have ideas.”

The Hoffman lecture series, sponsored by the  Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence (CFEE), brings together leaders and members of the wider GW community for reflection and discussion on practical experiences.

CFEE live-tweeted during the event, capturing the lecture and discussion. Please review the synopsis here on Twitter. Questions can be emailed to CFEE.

Posted by gwsb on March 27, 2013 | Filed under: GWSB News.

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