May 28, 2013
Harry Strack, a sophomore management information systems MIS) major from North Babylon, N.Y., said that in an ideal situation, his entrepreneurial ideas would earn him enough money to not need to attend college. But since that's not yet the case, he's happy to be right here at B&E.
Strack, who currently serves as treasurer of the Entrepreneurship Club, just became a Mountaineer this year after spending his freshman year at a small, private school in Connecticut. He said this year was the first time that he's made a real effort to get involved — and he's so glad he did.
"I dropped in on a small business class. Matt Marvel was the professor. That's where I met (Vice President of Entrepreneurship Club) Jay Young. He encouraged me to join to meet some new people and invited me to one of the meetings," he said. "I became a Mountaineer because I couldn't stand the size of my school and I wasn't interested in what I was studying. I talked to my cousin, he's a WVU alum. He told me that he couldn't recommend it enough, so I applied. I love it here. There are so many people and so much to do. I didn't even know a world like this existed. It's definitely good to be a Mountaineer."
In addition to the Entrepreneurship Club, he has also become involved as a brother of professional business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi and the Young Democrats Club.
For the past several summers, Strack has worked long hours as an electrician in New York City. He said he became acquainted with the profession through his father, who is also an electrician, and that the good pay helps him afford college. But although he knows how to work with his hands, Strack said he's a true techie at heart.
"I've always liked computers, and knew I wanted to go into business. I wasn't sure about MIS at first but I started learning about programming. I watched a video on YouTube with Bill Gates. (Gates encouraged viewers) to learn to program because it teaches you how to think. And it does. Programming teaches you the logic of things, helps you come to answers more logically." Strack is learning many new skills through the MIS program, and particularly likes Dr. Graham Peace, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of MIS.
"Peace is so cool. He is so enthusiastic about his job. He loves teaching and he wants us to ask questions," he said.
"I love it here. There are so many people and so much to do. I didn't even know a world like this existed. It's definitely good to be a Mountaineer."
This upcoming summer, however, Strack hopes to forego the electrician work in order to try his hand at carpentry and also to begin a start-up with a friend, a friend he met through the Entrepreneurship Club. And he's excited.
"I want to license my ideas or run my own business," Strack said. "I want to try and get my ideas out there. I've been learning about marketing, about what ideas work and what don't. It's about what people want. It's hard to see what people want sometimes, the demand. But you can't see things as problems; you have to see them as opportunities. (Dr.) Marvel said that."
Strack said he enjoys hearing from successful leaders, and takes advantage of opportunities through B&E to do just that. He has attended events through the B&E Distinguished Speaker Series, through Alpha Kappa Psi and guest speakers for the Entrepreneurship Club.
Two influential people he has met on campus are Steve Cutright, Director of the BrickStreet Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and alumnus Tom Petrini, founder and CEO of Evive Station.
"Steve is really, really smart. He's done it already. He used to work in construction just like me, and then he decided to start his own business," Strack said. "I also got to meet Tom through my involvement with Entrepreneurship Club. He's working really hard to provide a new, sustainable service. People want his product and that is so cool. Seeing stuff like that, that's why it's good to be a Mountaineer. Many of (the successful people) are down-to-earth, regular people. And that shows me that (success is) tangible, it's real."
In addition to learning from the experiences of on-campus speakers, Strack is a voracious reader who loves to read the biographies of successful people.
"I like to read anything that catches my eye. I'm always reading. I just finished The Alchemist and now I'm reading about Steven Key. He's been licensing products for 30 years, which is what I want to do. I also just read the 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. His story is so cool," Strack said. His biggest idol, however, is Steve Jobs, the late co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple, Inc.
"Steve Jobs created products that are literally integrated into people's lives on all levels," he said. "He didn't see that coming when he started with making computers. I was in the gym the other day and saw everyone with their headphones and iPhones and I thought 'Jobs had no idea this was coming.'" Strack believes one reason Jobs was so successful was that he didn't have to create all the apps that keep consumers coming back for more; instead he created a platform for other innovators to share their ideas via mobile applications. Strack said he has some of his own ideas for new mobile applications and wants to learn more about how to put them into motion.
In addition to his entrepreneurial role models of Jobs, Key and Ferriss, his father has been an influential force as well.
"You've got to work smart and you've got to work hard. My dad definitely taught me to work very, very hard. He goes to work at 11 p.m. each night, and he's doing it for me. His work ethic is to be admired. He does anything and everything for his family. He's committed his life to helping me, my brother and my mom be successful."
Strack is pleased with the new opportunities he's been presented since becoming a Mountaineer, and his best advice for other students is to jump in and explore what you love.
"I was not the one to get involved in things until this year and I'm really happy I did. Go pursue whatever you like, because there are always other people out there who like it, too," he explained. "It's really hard to take that first step, but just go and try and do it. You'll find others will join you."