Terry College of Business - Fall 2009 - (Page 46)
Briefings Entrepreneurship The human torch mark “Dill” Driscoll has done it all in what he calls “experiential marketing,” and as terry’s first entrepreneur-in-residence he’s passing his fiery will to succeed on to the next generation. By Krista Reese (ma ’80) Mark “Dill” Driscoll is sitting in a rocking chair in his Atlanta office, surrounded by mementos of a career in what he calls “experiential marketing.” Even in repose, he carries the youthful posture of a downhill skier just shot from the gate. At 58, when many successful entrepreneurs might be taking up that rocking chair fulltime, Driscoll has just been named the first Terry College Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Good luck finding him in his own. Ever in motion, Driscoll and his wife and business partner, Susan McWhorter Driscoll (BBA ’85, MMR ’86), live on a farm in the tiny south Georgia town of Osierfield. They commute to Driscoll’s ignition inc. office on weekdays via his twin-engine Baron 58. Driscoll says his international travel schedule has slowed, so he travels to other countries for business only “about once a month.” That leaves time for Driscoll to spend most Fridays in Athens, where he connects with —and challenges — enterprising Terry students. Driscoll earned his Entrepreneur-in-Residence title after a series of on-campus guest lectures inspired him to set up day-long volunteer workshops to answer students’ entrepreneurial questions. After four years of such guest visits, he proposed bringing Terry students into his myriad of endeavors around the world, showing them the importance of “the human touch,” as he puts it. “That’s all business is,” says Driscoll. “They know all the charts and graphs, but they’ve never been to a meeting. And if I’m going to a meeting, I’m taking them with me. It doesn’t matter how highlevel. If I’m meeting with Mike Adams, they’re going with me.” Driscoll’s first successes included installing an indoor track in his Lake Placid ski shop to help customers try out Nike Waffle shoes. Later, in 1984, he partnered with Busch beer to bring artificial snow to the Boston Commons. He would go on to found two of his own companies, signing Coca-Cola and the ’96 Olympic Torch Relay as clients. He sold those companies to McCann-Erikson, then founded ignition inc., which boasts such clients as the FIFA World Soccer Cup Trophy tour, Delta Air Lines, and Live Earth concerts. As many as 100 UGA students have shown up for Driscoll’s oncampus chat sessions, and he and Susan were taken aback when one asked, “Should I quit school?” It’s not what you think. He said he was making $6,000 a month, selling jeans over the internet from his dorm room. “We told him to stay in school,” says Susan, who is a member of the Terry College Alumni Board, “but we also asked if he was paying taxes.” Driscoll directed the student to an accountant, who gave the student good advice on how to proceed. Driscoll recruits students and casts them for roles in front of, and behind, the camera for marketing films and productions. One of them, Akin Adebowale, has obtained an all-access pass to a Georgia football game, allowing him to film side-by-side with ESPN. Susan is growing accustomed to phone calls from her husband, saying he’s bringing 10 Terry students home with him for the weekend. After dinner Friday night, the students can take advantage of the Driscoll estate’s horses and ATVs — and in that environment Driscoll is able to provide more personalized mentoring. “My job is to create opportunities and get kids on the playing field. Then to coach and inspire them . . . not to grade them, but to inspire them.” Driscoll (shown here in New york City promoting the 2004 Olympic Torch Relay) is currently involved in his eighth torch relay, this time for Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympics. To learn more about Terry entrepreneurship: www.terry.uga.edu/entrepreneurship. special terry.uga.edu
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