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    New book features iconic MN entrepreneurs

    Business StrategyHe’s been in the venture capital business for decades, but University of Minnesotabusiness lecturer Dileep Rao now says people don’t need venture capital to grow a business, and he’s drawn on the stories of some of the Twin Cities’ most successful entrepreneurs to prove his point.

    Rao has compiled those stories into a book called Bootstraps to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs Who Built Great Companies from Scratch. The 28 profiles in the book are a who’s who of Minnesota success stories. They include Horst Rechelbacher, who started Blaine-based Aveda Corp.; Richard Schulze, chairman and founder of Richfield-based Best Buy Co. Inc.; and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who built North Mankato-based Taylor Corp. into what is now a roughly $2 billion business.

    Rao, a senior lecturer at the university’s Carlson School of Management and a columnist for Forbes.com, spent two years interviewing the subjects of the book and writing the profiles.

    This article originally appeared in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.


    Stephen G. Shank: Capella Education Company

    When Steve Shank was an undergraduate, he wanted to go to law school. But since he was awarded a fellowship, he used it to get a Masters in International Relations and Law. Then he was drafted and joined the military.

    After his stint in the military, Shank got his degree from Harvard Law School. When he graduated, he and his wife had two kids, and he wanted to avoid the hassle of the East Coast (the final straw was when he had to stand in line at a grocery store at midnight) and moved back to the Midwest where he grew up.

    He joined Dorsey & Whitney, one of the premier law firms in Minneapolis. But he found out that he was one of the oldest associates, so when he got the offer to become corporate counsel to a major toy manufacturer called Tonka Toys, he grabbed the opportunity.

    This soon led to him becoming CEO of Tonka at the age of 34. After an ill-timed acquisition, Tonka was sold and Shank had time on his hands.

    That is when he saw giant waves converge and came up with the concept of an online university for graduate education. This vision has now grown to a $260 million (sales) company with market valuation of about $1 billion.

    This is how he did it.

    This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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    For over 33 years, Dileep Rao has worked with entrepreneurs, managers and leaders in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Dr. Rao has been acclaimed as a venture development teacher and speaker because he combines impeccable academic qualifications with his own successful experience in business growth and development -- offering practical knowledge with lasting value for success.

    Based on his experience and his study of some of the world's great entrepreneurs, he shows entrepreneurs, managers, professionals, financiers and area development officials how to build businesses by focusing on what truly matters and is sustainable in the long-term. (more…)


    A columnist on entrepreneurial finance, Dileep Rao is a nationally acclaimed practitioner, advisor, author and communicator on new business development, business growth and financing businesses and ventures. He combines real-world experience in financing more than 450 firms and managing five companies as the V.P. (now director) of one of the U.S.' largest development finance institutions with advising governments (including the U.S. government), Fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs in new business development and financing. (more…)

uEntrepreneurs: The Learning Center for Entrepreneurs ™