Stan Maupin and Gary LeClair have spent the past few decades turning ideas into businesses. Now they’re heading into their next chapter.
After co-founding Office America, which grew to a $70 million business, Maupin helped create an influential business accelerator and has served as a founder and chairman of several business organizations including the Richmond Venture Forum and the Greater Richmond Technology Council. He is managing director of AccelRVA, which offers consulting services to growing businesses.
LeClair, with law partner Dennis Ryan, founded LeClairRyan in 1988 to specialize in the legal needs of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Since then, LeClair has been lead attorney in a number of transactions including public financings, joint ventures and mergers and acquisitions. He has been a director for businesses such as a bank, an independent trust, a residential developer and an e-commerce venture, and has served on the boards of the Richmond Venture Forum and the Greater Richmond Technology Council.
They’ve worked on more than 100 early stage businesses together. A few years back, they began discussing ways they could inspire other business people in the Baby Boom generation to continue pursuing their dreams.
Those “what-if” conversations led to Encorepreneur, an organization that means to bring together and inspire Baby Boomers — to, as they write, “make their next business and personal accomplishments as successful, full of purpose and as fun as they have been in the past.”
Encorepreneur has presented 26 monthly meetings in the past 27 months at various locations around Richmond including businesses, colleges, nonprofits and high schools. Attendance has grown from about 65 to sell-out crowds of almost 200.
Enthuses James Ukrop, former CEO of Ukrop’s Super Markets: “Gary LeClair and Stan Maupin have been leading champions for entrepreneurship for much of their professional careers. They started the Venture Forum and the Technology Council to serve those communities. Encorepreneur brings together Richmond’s business leaders approaching retirement and thinking about how they can make a positive difference in our community during their retirement years.”
They agreed to answer some of our questions.
Both of you have had successful careers already. Why tackle another project?
STAN MAUPIN I would ask “Why not?” Someday, this may look like the end of my career. But right now, to me, it is the beginning of the rest of my career. At each stage of my life, what came before just prepared me for what I wanted to do next. Today I am better prepared than ever before, so why not take advantage of it? We were co-founders of the Richmond Venture Forum and RichTech (the area technology council) – two of the largest business organizations in the area. As we “aged up” and out of the leadership of these organizations, we thought it would be fun to do it again.
GARY LECLAIR The game is not over yet and we’ll let those who care to do so judge our success graveside. Besides, our goal is beyond a successful career. It’s a successful life, and we hopefully have at least 20 more years of fun working on that.
What about Encorepreneur makes it special?
MAUPIN The people. Conversations don’t start with “I” — they start with “we.” We don’t talk about what we did. We talk about what we are going to do. We don’t talk about what we forgot yesterday. We talk about what we are going to learn tomorrow. We talk about the next big thing, not the last one.
LECLAIR Encorepreneur is about staying in the game, emotionally, spiritually, physically and professionally. That requires continual learning, going outside your comfort zone, trying something new. It means the game is still on, we have something to look forward to and that while many good days have passed, many lie ahead as well.
What do people who have engaged in careers before bring to new ventures?
MAUPIN Despite what Malcolm Gladwell said, it’s not 10,000 hours of practice that makes you an expert - it’s 10,000 hours of trying your best to improve. Encorepreneurs have spent their careers as continuous learners. They focus on ways to do things better or differently.
LECLAIR Wisdom and perspective. Those can only be acquired over time. We may no longer be able to run 4-minute miles ourselves. We can advise others whether and how to do so.
What are some assumptions or preconceptions experienced people should reconsider?
MAUPIN You might call these “Myths”: Entrepreneurs are mostly young. The Kaufman Foundation says that nearly one in four new businesses are started by people aged 55-64 — and the percentage is growing, not shrinking. Similar studies also say business started by that age group are more likely to be successful. (see chart below from Kauffman Index or Entrepreneurial Activity)
The only way to have enough to retire is to build a nest egg. Do the math. If you are approaching retirement age, it is a lot easier to increase your retirement income by working part-time as a consultant or “fractional” worker than it is to save enough to live on the income. You can keep your mind young by doing crossword puzzles. Are you kidding me? Keep your mind young by exercising, eating right, staying connected and staying in the game. Have a purpose that makes you wake up each day.
LECLAIR The big myths are that our best days are behind us and that we don’t have the skills or energy to be of value. For everything there is a season, and our spring (youth) and summer (middle age) stages had some wonderful advantages. So does our autumn (golden years). Encorepreneur is about discovering, accepting and nurturing those advantages.
What have you learned from Encorepreneur that you didn’t expect to learn?
MAUPIN I learned that, like me, most people haven’t begun to see all that Richmond has to offer. When we started, we were worried about finding places for meetings and good speakers. But, we have been to 19 different locations in the area that many attendees had never been to before. We have had speakers ranging from a man who fought on Okinawa to a young woman who was featured in Inc. magazine as one of 30 entrepreneurs under 30 to watch – all from Richmond.
LECLAIR We are learning where the gold lies. Our prospecting suggest that it lies in engaging with others, laughing, learning, listening, accepting, appreciating, loving. The game now seems much less about competition and winning and more about collaboration and sharing. The rewards lie less in our things and more in our experiences. Perhaps we are learning that in the end we get to choose our perspective and maybe the rational response to life’s up and down journey is optimism.
To learn more, visit www.encorepreneur.com.