How entrepreneurs can apply Koch’s vision to their businesses

Scott Brown, senior director of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, shares insights during panel discussion at the 2018 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit

June 8, 2018

Focusing on the customer, acting with integrity, and working toward win-win outcomes are just a few ways that businesses can distinguish themselves as principled entrepreneurs and create value for society. That was the message imparted by Scott Brown, senior director of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, at the 2018 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Joined by panelists Marvin Walker, founder and CEO of Day Runner Inc., and Tarrus Richardson, CEO of IMB Development Corporation, Brown spent the afternoon sharing how the application of Koch’s Market-Based Management® philosophy has transformed lives and communities. Derek Dingle, senior vice president and chief content officer of Black Enterprise, moderated the discussion.

“It’s about improving the lives of people,” Brown said of Market-Based Management’s core philosophy. The role of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation, Brown explained, is to bring about positive change.

Mutual benefit is a cornerstone of how we operate, Brown explained.

“The beauty of this is that there’s a win-win component to it,” Brown said. “And if we’re going to enter into business, if the foundation is going to provide money to an organization, we want to establish mutual benefit.”

The other panelists shared related stories of their own business ventures.

As a courier over the last decade, Walker sensed an opening for logistics innovation and last year started the first national on-demand transportation delivery service after a series of negative business experiences as a contractor.

“I said, ‘What if I created an app that could give customers these services?’” Walker said. “I knew what the customers’ pain point was, but more importantly, I knew what the pain point was for me as a driver and wanted to be a business owner.”

In just one year, the app has grown to 7,000 drivers in 14 states, delivering a range of supplies from construction equipment to medical supplies, and more. With his own experience in mind, Walker has geared his business to support contractors’ growth.

“Because if I make sure you stay in business, this guy is going to be able to provide more service, my customers are going to benefit because they have a ready resource pool to service them,” Walker said. The driver benefits by making more money able to pay for bills. “And the customer benefits because they’re getting better service at a more affordable rate.

Richardson started IMB Development Corporation with the belief and dream that he could “create a million-dollar business by way of acquisitions in support and in partnership with women and minorities.”

“At the moment, I’m at $100 million of revenue in three platforms. We have eight women that work with me on a day-to-day basis. We bought two women[-owned] companies. We have two minority-owned companies,” Richardson said. “I’m hoping to find people to put money behind to develop this culture of not only building businesses through starting them up but also by helping and enabling people to use acquisitions to get scale.”

Such innovation comes from looking at trends and examining where the market is going, Brown said.

“It is hard to be able to gauge what is going to happen tomorrow based on today’s alternatives,” Brown said. “So, this ability to take risks, this ability to do the data analytics … is critical to value creation.”