In the early 1990s, Darin Cook and Rich Blaser were working for a municipal utility in Gainesville, Fla. But wholesale customers could choose their own natural gas providers, and it wasn’t long before Darin and Rich decided to become entrepreneurs and start a business of their own.
National Entrepreneur Day on November 15 is important to the Infinite Energy co-founders, who started the company in 1994.
“We worked for two years to launch the business,” Rich said. “And if we hadn’t been persistent, it wouldn’t have happened. But with every rejection we got, we asked for feedback to help make our plan better.”
Today, Darin and Rich still serve as co-CEOs and own 97 percent of the company. They hope to always keep it as entrepreneurial as when it started.
And both men share their experiences by mentoring other budding entrepreneurs in the community.
“When we started Infinite Energy, no real resources were available for entrepreneurs. We didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of or look to for advice except each other,” Darin said. “We wanted to help the next generation of entrepreneurs to learn from our failures and successes.”
Darin is active in mentorship programs for veterans and grad students at the University of Florida. He also takes part in the Take Stock in Children program to help promising students get college scholarships.
Rich is involved in community business mentorship programs, too. In 2012, he founded the Young Peer Mentorship Group in Gainesville, which supports young entrepreneurs. He is also involved with the Young Presidents’ Organization, a global network of young chief executives. He is a board member for the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, which encourages new business in the city.
“Developing the next generation of leaders is at the core of who we are as a company,” Rich said. “It’s one of the most rewarding pursuits I know.”