Be Passionate: Entrepreneurial Tips from Paul Douglas

“I am convinced everybody has at least one business in them,” Paul Douglas told several hundred Opus College of Business graduate business students and alumni Friday night. His presentation, “Weathering the Storm: Surviving the Internet Age,” was part of Master’s Pub, a social and educational series that brings together St. Thomas MBA students and alumni every few months to learn about successes in business. Douglas, a meteorologist turned entrepreneur who has started, built and sold several companies advised those in attendance to “take what you love and see how you can turn that into a company.”

While Douglas discussed how the Internet is changing how news, information and advertising is disseminated and consumed (and has created amazing business opportunities), he offered some advice to those looking to start their own businesses:

  • Be passionate. Everybody sells even if they are not a sales person. People are buying you as much as they are buying a product or service.
  • Find smart friends who complement your skillsets. Attract “A Players” who want to play with other “A Players.”
  • Have Plans B, C and D. No matter how comfortable your situation is now, it can change in the blink of an eye.
  • Find a business with recurring revenue.
  • Business plans change. Adaption is key.
  • Timing is critical for being an entrepreneur.
  • Prepare for a very wild ride. It won’t be like anything you predicted.
  • Do it for the right reasons, whatever those reasons are, such as intellectual challenge, contributing to society or indulging your passion. If money is your only incentive, you are probably doomed.

While many Minnesotans know Douglas as a local weatherman, he admits that he has another passion, too – starting companies. A self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Douglas founded Digital Cyclone, Inc. (DCI) in 1998, which personalizes the weather forecasting experience for individuals on the web and via e-mail and cell phones. In January 2007, Douglas sold DCI to global navigation systems company Garmin, Inc.

Now, as founder and CEO of WeatherNation, Douglas and a team of on-air meteorologists are producing and disseminating daily weather reports for websites, cable channels and TV broadcasters looking to cut costs without sacrificing quality. He is also founder of Singular Logic, LLC, a separate technology and patent-holding company attempting to reinvent advertising by allowing consumers to choose the categories of ads they have to watch on their PCs, TVs and cable systems. In 2009, Douglas co-founded another new company, Smart Energy, LLC, which focuses on high-resolution weather forecasts and visualization systems for wind farms, utilities and energy traders across North America.

The next Master's Pub will feature Kim Nelson, CFO of SPS Commerce and Executive UST MBA '01.