Bruce Rauner took a break from the campaign trail Wednesday to discuss entrepreneurism with a group of NIU business students.
Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor of Illinois, knows a thing or two about the subject, having earned billions of dollars as a partner in the venture capital firm GTCR, helping entrepreneurs bring their businesses to life.
The key to good investments, he said, was to understand the industry that the entrepreneur was entering and to ensure the presence of top-notch leaders in all aspects of the business.
“We weren’t so much an investment firm as we were an industry research firm and an executive recruiting firm,” said Rauner, adding that his success had a lot to do with an approach to the business that did not always emphasize investing. “My favorite people in the world are entrepreneurs.”
Rauner, a Deerfield native, told the 60 students, most of whom are minoring in entrepreneurship, that they should treat every interaction in their life as an opportunity to network and always to guard their most valuable asset – their reputations.
He also extolled the virtues of persistence.
“Never give up,” Rauner said. “Failure is not a bad thing. If you are persistent, and work your tail off, you will be successful.”
Denise Schoenbachler, dean of the NIU College of Business, approved of his message.
“We pride ourselves on exposing our students to leaders from the business world, and this was an amazing opportunity for them. They got to meet one of the top venture capitalists in America, and learn about the importance of hard work, solid research and attention to detail,” Schoenbachler said. “I thought that they asked some great questions.”
Rauner was invited to the class by Eric Wasowicz, who teaches in the entrepreneuriship program at NIU and is a friend of Rauner.