Not ‘If’ but ‘When’: Interview with BANGS Shoes’ Hannah Davis

Read the full article here: Not ‘If’ but ‘When’: Interview with BANGS Shoes’ Hannah Davis 

Hannah Davis Founder BANGS


There is something extremely exciting and encouraging about the development and explosion of young entrepreneurs making a difference and impacting the world through their businesses. Hannah Davis, founder of BANGS shoes is a strong example of a passionate young entrepreneur who is making a difference while doing something she loves.


Hannah’s journey to turn BANGS from an idea into a reality is one that would have left a weaker person far behind. Her passion and perseverance would not allow her to fail or even to consider giving up. Even through what seemed to be an endless battle of finding a manufacturer and gaining the resources to produce her product, Hannah knew that it was not a matter of ‘if,’ but ‘when,’ as she explains in the following interview.

General Business Information
Company: BANGS Shoes
Founder: Hannah Davis
Date Founded: June 2010
City/State: Charleston, SC
Current Employees: 1 person on BANGS payroll

Read the full article here: Not ‘If’ but ‘When’: Interview with BANGS Shoes’ Hannah Davis 


The Barefoot Spirit is a Strong One; Interview with Michael Houlihan

Barefoot Book Image


Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey are two of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of talking with, and they just so happen to be incredibly successful and world renowned entrepreneurs. Michael and Bonnie founded and grew the Barefoot Wine brand, which is now the #1 wine brand in the US and one of the best selling and most recognizable wine brands in the world. Did the dynamic duo start their highly successful wine brand because they had millions to invest and an abundance of knowledge and experience in the industry? Not exactly.

Michael and Bonnie started the brand in their laundry room in 1985 with practically no money and no experience. Their journey is an entrepreneurial success story that reminds us that the American dream is still alive and well.

I was invited into their beautiful California home via Skype not long after I had the privilege to hear Michael give a keynote address at the 2013 USASBE National Conference in San Francisco. Although I was not able to meet Michael at the conference, I took his business card off of the dinner table and tossed it into my briefcase. It wouldn’t hurt just to reach out to him right? Much to my surprise, this successful entrepreneur immediately responded and after one email he was asking what time would work for me to meet!

There is a lot that young entrepreneurs can learn from this founding couple and their struggles and success. The following is an interview I conducted with Michael Houlihan about his entrepreneurial journey, his upcoming book, tips and advice for young entrepreneurs, and more.

Michael Luchies: Did you have any entrepreneurial endeavors before Barefoot Cellars?

Michael Houlihan: Yes

Bonnie had a company called “In Care Of” [c/o] where she paid bills for people who had the money, but not the time. She also had an office management consulting practice where she did everything for small businesses from office organization and collections, to oversight of outsourced vendors.

I had several businesses including the first men and women’s hair cutting shop [Great Lengths], a stainless steel storage tank rental business, and a small business consulting company focused on relations with government entities.

ML: Wow! I guess it is safe to say that Barefoot Cellars was not your first rodeo. What failures have you faced as an entrepreneur and how did you recover and learn from these failures?

MH: When we started Barefoot Cellars, we thought that if we had gold medal winning wine at an unbelievable price, it would sell itself so we expanded out of California into Washington and Hawaii, but we soon found out that we had to physically be in every store to keep the product in stock. We thought the distributor and the retailer would take care of it.

On the contrary, they were not familiar with the brand and it didn’t have a selling history in their store, so they let it run out and get replaced with a competitor’s product. It cost us more than what we were making to make periodic trips to Washington and Hawaii just to get the reorders and to basically do what we thought was the distributors’ and the retailers’ job. We pulled out of Washington and Hawaii for 2 years and didn’t go back until we could afford to hire a representative of each one of those territories. We learned that we needed to have representatives in every market to maintain constant vigilance over our products at retail so that they stayed in the stores long enough to establish a track record of sales.

ML: You were able to create an incredibly successful business with your wife. What advice would you have for someone considering going into business with a family member or loved one?

MH: Respect the other party for their skill set. Do not try to micromanage them. Realize that their opinions, which may be contrary to yours, are in your own and your companies’ best interest. Have a separate place where you conduct business, even if it’s a laundry room, garage, or small in home office. It’s best to work in separate spaces. Don’t talk business in the bedroom. Plan several non-business related vacations every year in advance and buy the tickets in January.

ML: Thank you for that, really good advice. If there is one thing you could change about your entrepreneurial journey, what would it be?

MH: We should have gotten started much sooner, like when we were in school. Just conducting business is such an education. The sooner that you get the hard knocks over with, the better. Unfortunately, they weren’t teaching entrepreneurship when we were in school.

ML: Your book is titled “The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand.” Explain how heart and hustle are important for an entrepreneur:

MH: Heart is several things. First and foremost, it’s the belief that you have in your success. That belief is the foundation of the tenacity that is required to keep on going, even though you take some hits. Heart is also the way you treat people. By putting yourself in the other guys shoes whether they are employees, creditors, vendors, or customers, your empathy with their needs and concerns is transmitted through your products and service. Lastly, Heart is the causes you hold dear as an individual and how you use your business to forward those causes through public statements, corporate behavior, and the support for non profits.

Hustle is all about how fast you move to take advantage of opportunities, dodge adversity, and solve challenges. When you are an entrepreneur, you have to look for, and surround yourself with other team members who have hustle. They are determined, directed, and light on their feet. You and your companies’ ability to make quick changes and adjustments is the key to survival in the first few years.

Read the full article here

Cashing in on Night Life; Interview with Duncan Abdelnour of Branded Lights

Original article by Michael Luchies published here on Yahoo! Voices

Using one of your passions to start a business is nothing new, but using creativity and recognizing an opportunity through your passion can turn into a recipe for success. If you are passionate about food – buying the rights to build several franchise locations may seem like a safe bet and a way to make a solid living. Although this is a great option for many, it doesn’t necessarily allow an entrepreneur to expand upon their creativity and use their passion to create a dominant advantage over what is currently offered in the marketplace.

Young entrepreneur Duncan Abdelnour is no stranger to the night life and enjoys a good time. As a young entrepreneur, he has a mindset where he is always looking for the next big thing. As he explains in the interview, a night at an electronic music concert turned into the idea for his now growing business.

Duncan was a recent competitor in the Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC) Elevator Pitch Competition at the University of Tampa. The event is a regional conference of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), which hosts the National Elevator Pitch Competition each fall.

Duncan may not have won the competition, but it is clear that he is headed on the right track as a young entrepreneur. The following is an interview with him about his past as an entrepreneur, his business Branded Lights, and what is next for him and the business.


General Business Information
 Branded Lights
Founders: Duncan Abdelnour, Aaron Musicaro, Matthew Castriotta
Founded: October 2012
Funding to Date: $1000 – Personal Seed Money, Bootstrapped everything else
Description of business: A Leading Night Life Promotional Products Supplier, importer of items from LED Foam Sticks, to giant LED Inflatables with a Company’s, DJ’s, Night Club‘s, Sponsor’s logo.


Michael Luchies: What was your first experience in entrepreneurship?

Duncan Abdelnour: Founded Paint and Air Sports, when I was 14. Started by buying and selling paintball guns online, obtained wholesale and distributor accounts and started a online store.

ML: How did you get the idea for Branded Lights?

DA: I was at an electronic music concert, and noticed everyone fighting over these really cool LED Foam Light sticks, and wondered why no one was branding them with the venues, sponsors, or DJ’s logos.

ML: What struggles with the business have you had to overcome?

DA: Working with overseas suppliers, and their various mishaps such as faulty products, not getting orders shipped on time, and of course Chinese New Year, which is putting all of our production on hold for the next 3 weeks.

ML: How do you balance being an entrepreneur and a student at the same time?

DA: I schedule my classes so that I have plenty of time during the day to make calls, do emails, deal with clients etc. I started learning how to do this in high school when I would sneak off to the library to hop on the computer and do research all day on whatever venture I had at the time.

ML: What has been your best experience as an entrepreneur?

DA: Anytime you see your efforts effecting and benefiting thousands of people in a better way. When I was 18, I put on a sold out concert with the artist Sammy Adams, 850 screaming kids, and I was able to DJ for him on stage. After the show there were girls lining up to take pictures with me, which was pretty cool. Aside from the experience, we made about $16,000 that night, which was nice to.

ML: How many failures did you experience before Branded Lights? Did you ever want to give up on being an entrepreneur?

DA: One time I lost $30,000 on a concert deal gone wrong, and I definitely learned the hard way that the most important part of business is the people you do business with. There have been a few times I’ve definitely wanted to give up and just be a regular kid, but then I think about spending the rest of my life working in a cubicle and immediately change my mind.

ML: What advice do you have for young aspiring or current entrepreneurs?

DA: Find an Idea that can actually make money. I see it all the time – people pitching great ideas but they have no idea how to actually monetize them. You need to have a crystal clear picture of who your customers will be, how much are they going to pay you for your product or service, and how much its going to cost you to produce it.

Also, don’t spend all your time looking for funding. Get creative and build a business with your own capital, the only thing worse then loosing your own money, is loosing someone else’s.

ML: What is next for Branded Lights?

DA: We will be spending the majority of our Spring and Summer on the road vending at music festivals across the country such as Ultra in Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival, and a few others. We are also expanding our product line every week, offering more and more products to reach a broader customer base.

It is clear that Duncan and his partners are succeeding because of a great idea coupled with their passion for the industry that they are involved in. Thanks to Branded Lights and Duncan for the interview and good luck in the future.

Other Articles From This Author
It’s Time for DinnDinn; Interview with Foodie Favorite App Founder
What If High Schools Focused on Entrepreneurship? Part 1
What If High Schools Focused on Entrepreneurship? Part 2
Design with a Bang! Interview with Chic Shooter Founder Brandi Lynn Thomas, Student Entrepreneur
How to Create a Brand for Your Writing; Branding Tips and Advice for Freelance Journalists

Car Wash Delivery? Interview with City Sleekers’ Founder

City Sleekers Logo


Original Article Published Here by Michael Luchies


It was just another elevator pitch competition, or so I thought. The 2013 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC) had already been much better than I had expected, so why should I have been surprised at the quality of young entrepreneurs pitching their ideas and businesses in the elevator pitch competition?

The conference and competition were held at the University of Tampa. Students came from different parts of the country including Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi, and of course, Florida.

All of the pitches were fascinating, but one of the few that stuck out the most was that of City Sleekers. Maybe it was their cool bike branded in their logo and colors, or the car tire they brought with them, or maybe it was the team that all came wearing their businesses t-shirts and looked ready to compete, or possibly the fact that their business is a great idea that is sure to become a success.

Founder Nick Price and the City Sleekers team finished 3rd out of 26 competitors. After the competition I followed up with him for a short interview about the business and his entrepreneurial background.

Founders: Nick Price (22), Evan Brady (22)
Current Owners: Nick Price, Trey Summers (16)
Founded: September, 2012
Employees: 3
General Business Description: City Sleekers is a waterless, Eco-friendly, car cleaning company that comes to you. They transform every parking space into your clean car waiting to happen by coming to the customer whether you’re working, shopping or even just stopping for a sandwich.

Michael Luchies: When did you first show interest in being an entrepreneur?

Nick Price: I always have wanted to work for myself and it really kicked into gear after I took Nathan Schwagler’s Creativity in Entrepreneurship class at USFSP (University of South Florida St. Petersburg).

ML: I also got really excited about entrepreneurship from a class I took. How was your experience at the SEEC Conference?

NP: It was awesome! I had an amazing time listening to all the great speakers. UT put on a great conference, that campus is really awesome and everyone there welcomed us with open arms. SEEC was a great experience and I can’t wait for next year.

ML: How about your experience competing in SEEC’s Elevator Pitch Competition?

NP: It was nerve wracking!! I went second to last out of 26 other students, so when I finally gave my pitch in the semi finals I was so relieved! I was so impressed with all the other pitch ideas some of the other students came up with.

ML: How did you get the idea for City Sleekers?

NP: Evan thought of it for a school project and threw the idea by me, I loved it.

ML: A lot of young entrepreneurs have trouble coming up with the perfect name for their businesses, how did you come up with City Sleekers?

NP: We figured we liked our cars to look sleek and we were primarily targeting cities for traveling by bicycle. So we put the two together like PB n J.

ML: Did you have any ventures before CS? If so, have you experienced any failures and how did you learn and recover?

NP: I started a computer repair company with a friend of mine in 2009 while I was attending FGCU. It didn’t really take off around the college campus atmosphere. I have learned from failure – it was difficult to recover but trial and error is a part of starting your own business. I learned to target my audience more accurately.

ML: What is next for City Sleekers?

NP: GROW, GROW, GROW. We’re going to keep working on getting more locations, build our reputation, and help preserve our beautiful planet.

ML: What advice would you have for young entrepreneurs?

NP: Never ever give up. Keep working, don’t over think, and try and try and try again.

That is very good advice. It is important to learn from mistakes and try again. Thank you to Nick Price and City Sleekers for the interview and good luck in the future.

“People Are Dumb, Not Ideas”

Nick Peterson Photo

“People Are Dumb, Not Ideas” – Article by Michael Luchies about reality star and entrepreneur Nick Peterson. 


When I look for inspiration and someone to look up to, I always choose a reality television star. Although that was of course a joke, there is a lot that can be learned from those who have been able to captivate millions of people by putting themselves out there, even if it means embarrassing themselves and others for all to see.

Nick Peterson is not known for being a successful or innovative entrepreneur, although he is a smart and creative business owner. He is known for his ability to speak his mind and for choosing to keep $250,000 on ABC’sBachelor Pad‘ instead of sharing it with co-star Rachel Truehart in season 3.

Nick was a keynote speaker at the 2013 Southeast Entrepreneurship Conference (SEEC), hosted by the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization‘s Chapter at the University of Tampa on February 2nd. Nick captivated the entire audience from the start of his speech by declaring that “people are dumb.” He paused before saying “people are dumb, not ideas.” The thought, although very blunt and crude, started to make sense the more he went on.

He started giving examples of products that most people would consider dumb. He would argue that the products are not dumb at all, but in certain cases, quite brilliant.

Here are some of the examples that he gave:
– Dog goggles (Doggles)
– Plastic wishbones
Pixel advertising webpage
– Network Marketing
– Antenna balls
– Silly bandz
– Pet rock

Please view the rest of the article here:  “People Are Dumb, Not Ideas” – Article by Michael Luchies about reality star and entrepreneur Nick Peterson.