Recent WKU Alum and Bowling Green native Spence Sheldon spoke to entrepreneurial students about his journey as an up-and-coming food entrepreneur with his business, Donatos Pizza.
As a recent WKU alum (2015), Sheldon said he is fully aware of what it feels like to be a college student trying to find a passion that is worth pursuing. He talked about how it felt to start the thought process.
“I had no idea what I was going to do. I never mentioned restaurants, much less pizza. I never mentioned anything when I was sitting in my professors’ classes my senior year. I just had no idea,” Sheldon said.
He said he knew he wanted to get into something that went along with his strengths, but he did not know exactly what it was he wanted to pursue. He had many different things he was good at -- he called them his “fast ponies.” He loved music and sports and he was great with people. Spence tried the music scene and he played sports for a while, but it finally got to the point where he wanted to choose the “pony” that would get him to where he wanted to go the fastest. So he chose to focus on his ability to work with people, ultimately leading him to decide to become a business owner.
It took him some time to find the niche that best fit him.
“You do not have to know exactly what you want to do, but where do you start?” Spence also said that the starting point is to define what success means to them. For him, success meant gaining respect from the people that he loves the most.
“How is it working for those that are closest to you? I think that tells you a lot about who you are as an entrepreneur and who it is you want to be.” He continued his advice: “Figure out your ‘why’ because that is what is going to drive you the most.” He mentioned that he did not care about someone’s opinion on him that lived 50 states away; the only thing that mattered to him was how his family viewed him. That is what kept him going.
Sheldon’s resounding message was that success is hard work, which is a message Dr. Whitney Peake, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation suggests is critical.
“Spence is such an engaged alumnus and has been willing to come speak anytime we’ve called,” she said. His insights are so valuable for young entrepreneurs, and his authenticity never fails to shine through. His consistent message is that hard work will never fail you! He serves as a great example for our current students.”