Online Business Growth and Development
Stuart Brent started printing t-shirts as a hobby in his basement in 2006, which quickly grew into Vacord Screen Printing, now a nationally recognized specialist in Discharge Printing. In 2013 he drifted into the Startup world, and has since worked on many successful and failed Startup projects, with the most notable successes being userinput.io and Startup Resources. He is most interested in feedback techniques, idea validation, and marketing strategy. Stuart is originally from Nashville, and returned in 2014 after having originally left for Drexel University in 2000 and then building the screen printing business in Philadelphia.
Q. What excites you most about the Wond’ry?
A. I’m excited that an academic institution like Vanderbilt has created a startup center that can bring modern startup philosophy to business students to help them survive in the real world of business, where techniques, tactics and technologies are moving at an ever-faster rate.
Q. What do you feel are the most important skills you have to offer in your role as a mentor?
A.I have survived as an entrepreneur for eleven years now, making my own way. The skills that I’ve picked up that I think are most important to share are those of idea validation, Lean Startup methods, and marketing and growth strategies.
Q. What has been your proudest moment in your career?
A. Being able to start a t-shirt printing business when people said I couldn’t do it, grow it from a laundry room operation to a 12 person shop, survive the great recession, and end up grossing millions with it over its lifetime, and having national recognition with the company.
Q. What has surprised you most about your job?
A.How emotional entrepreneurship is. I’ve had tears of joy when a project came together, and many bouts of momentary depression when things looked dark. It can be so exhausting, and your business is always on your mind.
Q. If you could do everything over again, would you make the same career choices?
A. I’m a believer of the butterfly effect, and I like where I am today, so I wouldn’t make any changes. I learn and grew from my mistakes. I would have had a much more pleasant time learning screen printing if I had worked at someone else’s shop instead of being thick skulled and just teaching myself, but it all worked out in the end.
Q. In your opinion, what is the most important quality for success?
A. Tenacity, or grit, or whatever you want to call it. You just have to keep pushing yourself if you want to be successful on your own. You can never stop pushing yourself. Complacency will kill you. Also, you have to believe in yourself, because there’s no guarantee anyone else will.
Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. The first job I remember wanting was “cheeseburger critic” honestly. And a few years ago I wrote some posts for a cheeseburger blog, so I guess dreams do come true.