Entrepreneurs can be measured like a recipe for success.
Take volumes of intuition; add equal amounts of risk-taking, boldness and confidence. Mix everything together with pride, passion and perseverance. Boil the recipe down and you have the essence of an entrepreneur: fully balanced yet willing to stand alone, a person who can take a thought or idea and run with it.
Take Ronald Ricotta for instance, a 1979 graduate from RIT's E. Philip Saunders College of Business and Rochester-based entrepreneur who is president and chief executive officer of Century Mold Company, Inc.
The former East Rochester High School student-who wrestled, played football, and excelled in math-asked his guidance counselor one straightforward question before deciding to attend RIT.
"We talked about curriculum and whether I should major in business or accounting," recalls Ricotta with a laugh. "I asked which of the two had the least homework (it was accounting) and that's how quickly I made accounting my future career."
But in reality, Ricotta has always done his homework. Century Mold is a $42 million injection molding company with 300 employees that has grown 50 percent in two years under his leadership.
"One of the best things I ever did was choose RIT because of the co-op program, the pace of RIT's quarter-system, and faculty like Dan Tessoni who helped me jumpstart my career," says Ricotta, who exited college and spent the next 14 years in public accounting-this time, "majoring" in manufacturing clientele.
Although Ricotta continues to work long hours, he takes time out for vacations and rounds of golf at Locust Hill. He has two sons, Matthew, an '03 RIT alum with degrees in manufacturing and engineering, and Jeffrey a 2004 graduate of Boston University with a degree in manufacturing as well.
"Success takes lots of hard work and we all have stories to tell on how we turned our companies into successful, thriving ventures in spite of the economy," Ricotta says. "I participated in the conference because I wanted to give something back to the community and the institution that have helped me along the way.
"I'm not an entrepreneur like Bill Gates or Donald Trump, but I do believe I have learned how to grow a company," he explains. "Growing a company is like making a stew. You need several good ingredients to have a good taste. That includes technology, people, customers and luck.