Mitch Schlimer, who classifies himself as a “serial and social entrepreneur,” has spent his life observing needs that are not currently being met by the market and finding innovative ways to fill those needs.
While working as a young tennis pro, before founding his own tennis center in Texas, Schlimer noticed that many people were unable to understand the spin of the ball when it was hit. In response to this problem, he invented the two-tone, orange and yellow-colored tennis ball that became a success and is still sold in stores today. Later, after observing insurance companies’ failures to correctly reimburse after robberies, he drew on his knowledge of video (which at that time was a new medium) to create a solution. He designed a system that would surveil and record homes and businesses for insurance purposes, thus founding the nation’s first comprehensive video services company.
More recently, Schlimer has continued his trend of responding to unmet market needs, but now he focuses his services primarily on helping other entrepreneurs. Because he has decades of experience in entrepreneurship, Schlimer understands the challenges that others face in their attempts to create successful new ventures. One of the most challenging issues, he believes, is the fact that the entrepreneurial journey can often be “lonely and isolating.” In addition, he sees a need for the entrepreneurial community to have a stronger “voice.”
In response to these issues, Schlimer has created several programs and organizations that aim to develop a stronger community and network of entrepreneurs and to provide this muchneed voice for the community. Schlimer’s current projects include the Let’s Talk Business network, the radio show “Let’s Talk Business,” and the EPIcenter, which is home to the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame (EHOF). Each of these programs and organizations center around meeting the needs of the entrepreneurial community by creating a stronger support network and providing a voice. For example, The Let’s Talk Business radio show is entirely dedicated to entrepreneurship, small business and franchising. Each week on the show, Schlimer interviews successful entrepreneurs from various industries, providing a forum in which they can share their knowledge and insights with other small business owners. Through this show, Schlimer has interviewed many notable entrepreneurs including Sir Richard Branson, Ben & Jerry founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Fred DeLuca, and the late Anita Roddick (founder of the Body Shop).
Schlimer has also observed the need for greater recognition of successful entrepreneurs and appreciation of the important contributions that entrepreneurship makes to society. “Entrepreneurs that create jobs are at the backbone of the economy,” he says. “We need a place to celebrate them and empower them.” To enhance the recognition of success in entrepreneurship, Schlimer created the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame (EHOF). The EHOF currently exists in online form only, but Schlimer’s vision includes a physical location that will attract visitors and provide a center for the study of entrepreneurship.
In keeping with his mission to provide help and support to entrepreneurs, Schlimer recently volunteered his time to offer advice to students who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurial paths in life. In October, he participated in the IMPACT Speaker Series at Georgia Tech, a program that brings highly successful business leaders from a variety of industries to During this IMPACT event, Schlimer interviewed fellow entrepreneurs A.J. Robinson and Doug Shipman in front of a student audience. Responding to Schlimer’s questions, Robinson and Shipman shared valuable leadership lessons and insights into what it actually takes to turn an entrepreneurial dream into a reality. Throughout the session, they discussed their own journey in working toward building the Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights and after the interview, students were able to ask questions of the entrepreneurs on stage to gain valuable insights into what it takes to be successful when starting a new venture.
In addition to participating in this IMPACT event, Schlimer gave an interview in which he discussed some of the things he sees as vital to success in entrepreneurship. For students who are interested in starting their own business ventures, the following insights may prove valuable as they are based on years of observations and experiences in the “real world.”
By SAMANTHA COLLINS
October 18, 2011