Craig Zamary of Green Energy TV
When and why did you start your business?
I started my first company, XZAMPCORP, in 1998 when I was 24. I started my second company, Green Energy TV, in 2007. I subsequently sold both companies to investors (Zamary is now Kent State University's Entrepreneur in Residence).
Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before that?
Yes. I always had small businesses when I was a kid and wanted my own company. I remember hearing some of my uncles talk about their ideas. Then we’d see a TV commercial, and my uncles would say someone stole their idea. I remember thinking that if I had an idea, I would try it because I never want to sit back and say “that was my idea.”
Where did you find your first employee?
She gave birth to me, so it was easy to find her. When I started my first company, it took off fast, so I called my mom and asked her to help. The next person was my sister, who was a CPA. Next was my cousin, who did the programming, then more cousins and aunts. Within a few months, we had 15 people working in my parent’s basement. Most of my first hires were family. Then I started hiring friends of my family. But honestly, I was so blessed with incredible people to work with, I never saw them as “employees.” I considered them all family.
What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
Jim Cossler and the staff and other companies at the Youngstown Business Incubator were a huge part of Green Energy TV’s success. In addition to space, they provided a wealth of knowledge, networking, and connections that helped us form strategic partnerships and achieve positive growth.
What’s the most difficult thing about running your own business?
Staying ahead. It’s a race, and you need to run fast, efficiently and lead. If your business ever stops moving or gets stagnant, it’s dead.
What’s the best thing?
What has contributed most to your growth?
Having great people work with us and strategic partnerships.
What companies or founders do you admire and why?
Steve Jobs, Apple -- Larry Page and Sergey Brin from Google are the big ones. And I love the immigrant success stories of the men and women who came to the United States, started with humble beginnings and built the American Dream.