Speaker for Lafayette innovation conference says, 'no better time to be an entrepreneur'
The Acadiana Advocate
Oct 31, 2018 - 3:00 PM
If you’re sitting on an idea for a successful business, Morris Miller has advice for you.
“There’s no better time to be an entrepreneur today in the history of the world,” he said.
And he would know. Miller has been involved in several start-up companies, including Lafayette-based golfballs.comand Xenex, whose robot-cleaning services are in Lafayette General Hospital and many Ochsner Health System facilities in Louisiana.
He will be one of the keynote speakers during this week’s Innovation Conference 2018 put on by Lafayette Economic Development Authority's Opportunity Machine, whose goal is to grow entrepreneurship and create jobs in Acadiana.
And he’ll deliver a message to anyone who wants to start a business.
“I would say (the biggest hurdle for startups) is deciding you’re actually going to do it,” Miller said from his office in San Antonio, Texas. “It’s easy to get complacent. You’ve got to be willing to have the door shut on you. You’ve got to get it where the customer wants to buy it.
“Be willing for people to tell you no. Just go knock on the next door.”
The three-day conference is Thursday through Saturday and will focus on innovation, creativity and forward thinking in business and feature entrepreneurs, startup founders and small business owners.
Miller will be a keynote speaker at the conference along with Chris Meaux with Waitr, Lafayette Mayor-President Joel Robideaux and Nancy Kamei with the National Science Foundation. The conference will have close to 50 speakers and several workshops.
“For small businesses, we have sessions on business modeling, how to create and improve your business model,” Opportunity Machine director Destin Ortego said. “On the other end of the spectrum, with big companies with over 200-500 employees, we have CEOs and former CEOs that have run or sold companies for millions of dollars. They will give insight on how they did it and what people should do in the future.”
The conference is being held in conjunction with National Entrepreneur Month. An estimated 550,000 people across the country start a business each month, according to entrepreneur.com.
Miller was one of those when he helped start Rackspace.com, a data storage company, and Curtis Hill Publishing, which puts Texas case law on CD-ROM. He is now CEO at Xenex.
“I believe you need to go sell what you want to sell as soon as humanly possible,” Miller said. “With Rackspace, they told me their concept. I said, ‘That’s great. Can you sell it?' You should be willing for people to buy the concept as soon as they can understand it. Once you have the idea, try and sell it and make sure people want to buy it. Then try to refine it and improve.”
The future for start-ups will include lots of opportunities in artificial intelligence, he said. Other opportunities are available, and it just takes the right mission to get it going.
“When I am meeting entrepreneurs, I want to understand what is their mission,” Miller said. “If you look at golfballs.com, they’re the world leader in golf customization. 2,000-4,000 dozen golf balls a day get shipped out of Louisiana perfectly printed for the customer’s purpose. Having these missions is critical.”