Our Town: What it takes to be an entrepreneur

Our Town: What it takes to be an entrepreneur
The Halo is the creation of Ethan Haber, a product designed to make youe little pet happier.. (Photo by Tom Ferraro)


Entrepreneurship is defined as “the art of setting up a business, taking on financial risk in order to make a profit.” The word comes from the French word “entreprendre,” which means “to do something or to undertake,” but for my money the word sounds more American since it conjures up of thoughts of creativity and independence, two primary American attitudes.

I decided to investigate the character of the entrepreneur, but since I had no immediate access to Elon Musk, instead I chose a more local entrepreneur. Let me introduce you to Ethan Haber, a friend of my sons and a kid I have known for many years.

When Ethan was a youngster, he was always the one who joked around, had enormous energy and liked to talk and have fun. He also took an interest in making stuffed plush animals and managed to market them to the gaming industry, which used them in their marketing campaigns. All this when he was still a teenager.

But his true entrepreneurial sense emerged during college. Ethan had a hamster Mooksie, which he loved. One day while sitting in the quad at Wake Forest University, he saw a student walking a dog and he began to wonder why he shouldn’t be able to walk his little hamster Mooksie the way other people walked their dogs.

And this is where Ethan’s creativity, tenacity and fortitude kicked into full gear. Lots of people have clever ideas, but Ethan took his unique idea of ways to walk his hamster and converted it into a business plan.

Now if you know what a hamster looks like, you will immediately know that a hamster harness is not the way to go here. Hamsters are too small to have a leash attached to them and I don’t think they would like walking in a straight direction down the street the way dogs do. This is not a workable idea. But Ethan’s idea was far more creative than mine. He invented a beautiful looking product called “The Halo,” which allows you to take your hamster on walks like dog owners do. You carry “The Halo” and it holds a clear globe with a treadmill inside, which your hamster can run on while it views the great big world outside.

Now let us get into the nitty-gritty of what it really takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Indeed, you need to have a heart as big as Ethan’s which prompts you do some good in the world, in this case do good for your hamster. But you will need far more than just a heart.
You will also need an unrelenting will and self-belief in order to actualize your dream. This is one of the secrets of greatness.

In the world of art, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons are two geniuses who have such self-belief, in the face of skeptics and naysayers. Andy decided he wanted to paint Campbell Soup cans. Really, Campbell Soup cans. One of his paintings of Campbell Soup cans recently sold for $23 million (“Big Campbell Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable”). Jeff Koons decided he wanted to make stainless steel, 12-foot-tall replicas of balloon dogs. He sold one of his balloon dogs last year for $58.4 million. Never snicker at a man who believes in what he is doing.

Ethan Haber is just such a man. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someday Ethan Haber winds up selling his Happy Habits company for $52 million. Hey, you never know.
His start-up sells all things for little animals, including small animal bedding, tiny treats like peanut butter or banana snacks, plush pillows that look like cute hamsters, and even an Ecoflex Mojave Small Pet Lounge for little critters that deserve some pampering.
But lest you think that entrepreneurship requires nothing more than some creativity, a good heart and strong self-belief, let me inform you of a few other traits that seem to be needed.

You will need serious knowledge about how to market your product, a serious design and engineering team to create your product, how to package your product, an ability to negotiate shipping costs, enormous emotional intelligence, which will help you to sell the product, tenacity in order to withstand the rejection of skeptics, and lots and lots of patience. And if you have all of that, then the answer is “yes” as to whether you should quit your day job.

Ethan Haber has all of the traits of the entrepreneur and I would say his Happy Habitats, company is in very good hands. And if you have a little creature at home like a hamster, a gerbil, a mouse, a guinea pig, a ferret or a rabbit, and you want to pamper them or take them for a walk in the great outdoors, well “The Halo” may be just what your furry little friend is looking for.

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