Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Key Ragnar people discuss thriving business

Finishing a Ragnar overnight relay race takes endurance, motivation and the ability to do whatever it takes to succeed. After hearing from some of the key people from Ragnar Events, it sounds like creating the company requires the exact same attributes.

Tanner Bell, co-creator of Ragnar Events, discusses his
company at the first Entrepreneurship Lecture Series
On Wednesday, Tanner Bell, Ken Jacquin and Chris Infurchia visited the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business as part of the Spring 2012 Entrepreneurship Lecture Series. The three of them discussed the success of Ragnar Events and offered suggestions and tips to the budding entrepreneurs in attendance. The Utah-based company puts on 14 overnight relay races across the U.S. in which teams of runners cover hundreds of miles. The first race drew 220 participants; there are now 60,000 people who run in Ragnar races each year.

Bell, who co-founded Ragnar Events with his friend shortly after graduating from Brigham Young University, said he had to do some unorthodox things to get some publicity for his fledgling company. On a drive home one evening, he was listening to a radio segment called “Speaking on Business” hosted by Zions Bank executive Fred Ball. During the segment, Ball would highlight a local business, and Bell felt a strong urge to have his business be featured on a future episode. Not knowing how to get ahold of Ball, he opened a phonebook and saw four people by the name of Fred Ball. He dialed the first listing, and to his surprise, he soon found himself talking to the bank executive and radio host. Two months later, Ball’s secretary called Bell and asked if he would like to be featured on an upcoming segment.

Bell said that is the kind of stuff you have to do to get noticed in your early days. He also talked about several other keys to Ragnar’s success, including their commitment to the brand loyalty to their racers and sponsors.

Jacquin, one of the founding partners of Dolphin Capital, said his private equity firm decided to invest in Ragnar for many reasons, but one reason in particular was because they “seemed like a lot of fun to work with.” He said Dolphin Capital invests in mid-market businesses with large growth potential, and his firm saw a lot of growth in Ragnar.

Infurchia is the current CEO of Ragnar Events. He talked about his admiration for the “pure passion and abject courage” or entrepreneurs like Bell.

“Entrepreneurs say, ‘this can work, and here’s why,’ and they’re willing to fail and fail and fail until they get it right,” Infurchia said.

Getting a business off the ground takes a lot of work, Infurchia said, but it does not stop there. For a business to have sustained success, entrepreneurs must surround themselves with talented people. Good entrepreneurs know where they need help and they know where they can find the right people.

A video of their presentation may be found here.

- Connor Child

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