He first walked into the Riverside Country Club years ago with a cardboard box full of belts. The ‘Shark Tank’ entrepreneur now returns to his hometown and the location where his business first got his start.
Mission Belts creator Nate Holzapfel hosted a red-carpet speaking event in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 5, coaching a crowd of more than 100 people about the “10 Commandments of Selling” during a taped red-carpet program, “Nate’s State of Mind.”
“I didn’t have a very bright future,” Holzapfel said, recounting his history. He was working at a used car lot in Orem 12 years ago when he made connections that affected his future in business.
“Our entire life is based on relationships,” he said. “Really, the most valuable thing I have, if you look at my ledger, would be the names. What I am is a composite of all my relationships.”
Holzapfel tapped into a “hole in the market” to develop his adjustable, no-hole belt with his brother Zac Holzapfel and partner Jeff Jensen. Holzapfel appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and won a deal with Daymond John, a clothing brand owner who has sold more than $4 billion in clothing and accessories.
Holzapfel never graduated from college and encouraged students to learn from his experience. He said not attending college and taking advantage of Provo’s opportunities was one of his biggest regrets.
“The people here aren’t afraid to go out and try,” he said. “(They’re) just crazy enough to think that they can. Network, make relationships, and try. It’s about rolling dice, and the more things that you try, the more your odds are going to go up.”
Holzapfel’s partner Jensen urged students to divorce themselves from profit-focus business ideals. “Never take a job for what it pays, but take a job for what you learn from it,” he said. “Build experiences, and don’t be concerned just about how much you make.”
BYU students Kyle Wagner and Richard Chowles attended the event. Wagner, a marketing major from Chico, California, learned from Holzapfel’s advice to be “rich in relationships.”
“The biggest thing for me is to not focus solely on profit, but to look for how to make those connections meaningful and to be rich in that way,” he said. “By having a business and connecting with people you can be rich in relationships and in profits.”
The relationships, Holzapfel explained, are more than just business partner to business partner. They include families, friends and most importantly, the customer.
“I think the biggest thing is love your customer,” said Chowles, a human development major from Fairfax, Virginia. “That one just really stuck out to me. Too many times, I feel like customers get thrown under the bus in the name of profit. And there’s something wrong with that.”
Visit Holzapfel’s website to read more about his 10 Commandments of Selling