Meet the Group
What is the future of Business in North East Ohio? Where are the new industries, employers and opportunities going to start and grow?
The seeds of change are in place. Three graduates from the Evening Program MBA Program at Weatherhead are looking to apply the oil to the wheels of the Cleveland Business Machine. In 2001 Jeff Chaney, Don Larson and Greg Orloff failed to buy a specialty machine company from a local producer of sealants and pipe products. As is often the case, timing killed the deal. Twenty four hours earlier the board of directors made a commitment to build the business internally and not give the fledgling graduates an opportunity to buy the company.
Without another business opportunity on the immediate horizon, the aspiring business owners could have parted ways at that point. Instead they formed an organization to focus their Entrepreneurial aspirations. The Gorilla Group was born at the Great Lakes Brewing Company in the Fall of 2001.
“The Gorilla” is the nickname of Professor Richard Osborne at Weatherhead. He requires everyone in his class to go by a nickname. It helps to inspire creativity, which is one of the most necessary tools an entrepreneur can have, because he or she is always short on infrastructure, support staff, and cash. Hence, the moniker “The Gorilla Group” was adopted.
The underlying assumption of The Gorilla Group is very simple. If your close associates aspire to be a VP at the local bank then you are most likely to be a VP at the local bank as well. If you are surrounded by individuals that want to buy and sell companies, build the next Microsoft, or make the combustion engine obsolete, then your future lies as a business owner not an employee. Hence, The Gorilla Group exists as foundation of support to keep the Entrepreneur focused on the Brass Ring instead of the 30-year Gold Watch.
Monthly meetings operate very differently than most Alumni Associations and other networking organizations. The events are informal, fostering an environment where honest discussion can take place. The members are welcome to bring financial data on takeover targets and prototype inventions for possible startups. Brutally realistic assessments are always given on the viability of a business, marketing plan or financial projections.
A successful entrepreneur is invited to most meetings as part of the Guest Drinkers Program. No podium speeches are expected. Instead the members and the Guest actually get a chance to interact and discuss the real world events that the aspiring entrepreneur was battling that afternoon.
The Gorilla Group has grown to hundreds of members. At least half of the members have ongoing business concerns. The future of Cleveland is being bantered about today by the press and the local government. Those who take the chance to build something of real economic value will craft the real future. Do not be surprised if the members of The Gorilla Group have a lot to say about how that future plays out.