“Don’t be cautious or conservative with entrepreneurial ideas. You need two feet in,” says Mission Belt co-founder Zac Holzapfel.
Zac Holzapfel and his brother Nate launched their Orem, Utah-based belt startup in 2012. Three months later, they appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and found that the celebrity investors were hungry for a bite of the business. Nate accepted Daymond John‘s offer for $50,000 in exchange for 37.5 percent of Mission Belt.
This year, Mission Belt announced it lent more than $1.5 million to small business ownersaround the world–making it the seventh-largest business contributor of all time for Kiva, a non-profit that facilitates the entrepreneurial loans. Zac says that the company has made about $25 million in revenue and lent about 60,000 micro-loans since launching.
Here, the philanthropic entrepreneur reflects on what he wish he knew when he started out and what advice he’d give the business owners that benefit from Mission Belt’s loans.
What’s one thing you wish you did different when starting Mission Belt?
Plan to be successful. Don’t be cautious or conservative with entrepreneurial ideas. You need two feet in. When we launched, we were thinking so small. If we had planned on being successful, we would have captured more. You can plan to be moderately successful, but if you have a product that you feel good about and a project that speaks to you, plan to be successful.
When asking questions and seeking help, what should young entrepreneurs do?
I think it’s important as an entrepreneur to be inquisitive and interested in what you’re doing. You have to have some passion–if not, it’s going to be drag and you won’t succeed. Along with passion comes curiosity, and just an interest in what’s around you. But you can’t depend on anybody to come in and give you a formula; every business is different and everybody has different opportunities. Learn as much as you can by other people’s experiences, journeys, successes, and failures. If you can do that, you don’t have to pass through them yourself.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who have accepted loans from Mission Belt?
By putting in that hard work, coupled with some financial investment, they can break the poverty cycle. Be in a position where you’re in control of your own destiny. Be a producer. Be a net positive and add to the pie with whatever you’re doing. If you’re positive, you’re going to be successful. Don’t be a drag to anybody.