Kevin Steidel exemplifies what it means to be an entrepreneur in today’s world. In his role as an assistant professor of practice and Robert E. Ness Chair of Entrepreneurship, he introduces Wittenberg students to the business and entrepreneur programs at an early stage, helping them find the path to being in control of their own future and career.
Teaching in the areas of entrepreneurship, marketing, research methods, and analytics at Wittenberg, Steidel was recently named one of the six most successful entrepreneurs in his fraternity, Delta Tau Delta. A member since his college days at Ohio University, where he earned a degree in business, he has fond memories of the fraternity.
“I joined my freshman year at Ohio University, and I loved every minute of being a part of that fraternity on campus. So much so, I have continued to try to be as involved as I can be,” said Steidel, who grew up in Cincinnati and later earned his master’s degree from Indiana State University. “I worked in Evanston, Illinois, and continued to help the Northwestern chapter, and I try to help the chapter here at Wittenberg. I was shocked when they asked me to be interviewed for the article in their quarterly magazine that goes to over 150,000 people. They said they were interviewing 50 successful Delta entrepreneurs and would pick some to write features about. I did a short phone interview and didn't hear back for a while, so I didn't think much of it. Then, in October they reached back out. Pretty cool - they chose six stories out of the 50 initial interviews.”
As for his entrepreneurial side, after seven years of working for others in a variety of positions, Steidel decided to go it alone and opened the first of four of his own businesses in 2008. His businesses included retail, food and beverage, advertising, and digital consumer profiling. Along with his University duties, he and his wife, Brittany, currently own 365 Concessions, a concession-stand business in Columbus.
“We own contracts with a few municipalities in the Columbus area,” he said. “We have five locations plus a mobile location and almost 100 high school students working for us each summer. I really enjoy getting to know them. I enjoy learning what they are saving money for, and if this is their first job. I like getting to have real discussions about the importance of developing a work ethic.
“My wife and I take our kids to the concession stands all of the time to work with us,” Steidel added. “They learned to count money before they could read. I think it is very important for them to see us working hard for them at an early age. My oldest son has started making Pokemon drawings and selling them to his friends at school. My daughter picks up loose change and knows exactly how much it is worth and what she plans on doing with it! People ask us how we manage with four kids, a business, full-time jobs, etc. but the reality is we keep expanding and working less. We have developed a platform to properly train the people that work with us. We step back and allow them to actually do the job, and we hold them accountable to ensure it is done to the standard set. It is a great process and has worked well for us.”
He brings many of these same ideals with him to the classroom at Wittenberg where he teaches an introduction to entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship case studies, digital marketing, leadership experience, and communication and business courses.
“I like the entrepreneurial spirit in the students. I also like the autonomy to make the classroom what I want it to be. This is very much like owning your own business. I tell students to pick the thing to do that you would do every day for no money. If you are doing what you love to do, and you work really hard at it (which will be easy since you love it so much), the money and future will work itself out, and two - just do it,” said Steidel, who applied at Wittenberg after seeing a Forbes article ranking the University as one of the top 30 colleges for future entrepreneurs looking to start their own business.
“I went to the website and saw they were hiring an adjunct teacher in some fields that I had worked in, and I applied,” he said. “Three weeks later, I had a part-time job. One year later, it turned in to a full-time job. I encourage all of my students to start a business before they graduate. It doesn't have to be a billion-dollar idea. Do something to make extra money on the side to pay for your social life, help with debt, or buy more video games.”
Steidel currently sits on the board of directors for three small Ohio businesses and works locally with the Springfield Small Business Development Council (SBDC), teaches a First Year Seminar class, and along with Heath Queen ’16, coordinator for engaged learning at Wittenberg, directs the popular Communications and Business Leadership Experience (CABLE). Open to communication and business majors and minors, CABLE is a professional development opportunity for students.
And if these things aren’t enough, Steidel is currently working on an inspirational book titled Get Fired, Find Independence & Retire Early to encourage others to start their own business.
“I just want people to know that they do not have to work dead-end jobs. They don't have to fret about every single paycheck. They don't have to get stuck in the rat race,” he said.
To learn more about business at Wittenberg, click here.