Young bucks, big dollars

Oct 062003
Authors: Jamie Way

Rufus Nagel knows the value of a dollar.

He started his business endeavors young in life and now has at

least one business yielding profits over $1 million dollars each


In a 1979 New York snowstorm, 9-year-old Nagel became an


“As a kid, I cleared off snow for a restaurant for $40. That

seemed like a lot of money back then, so I called up everyone I

knew,” Nagel said. “I was the salesman. We made $500 to $600 that


Entrepreneurs often look back at their past and realize they

have been entrepreneurs their entire lives.

“They are the kids that not only mowed lawns, but organized two

or three other kids to mow,” Nagel said.

Nagel has a doctorate in medical physics from the University of

Chicago. Besides dealing with medical companies, he also uses his

degree in an analytical approach.

“It’s really true what they say about school; it’s a tool,”

Nagel said.

In 1998, Nagel and his friend, both of whom were graduate

students at the time, began an e-commerce business.

“We bounced a lot of ideas about something with the web and we

thought ‘posters,'” Nagel said.

The idea Nagel bounced around,, yields revenues

of more than $10 million each year.

Nagel said the key to success is someone knowing he/she is an


“It’s like being sort of pregnant,” Nagel said. “You’re either

an entrepreneur or you’re not. The people who are successful know

they are.”

Nagel is the membership chair for the Colorado chapter of the

Young Entrepreneur Organization.

“It’s a special non-profit organization for people under 40

years old who are the CEOs or founders of a $1 million

corporation,” Nagel said.

The Colorado chapter has 72 members.

Although youth can be a disadvantage, there are many successful

businesses run by young people in Fort Collins, said Kim Egan, the

communication coordinator for the Fort Collins Chamber of


“It may be (a disadvantage) from an experience standpoint, but

Fort Collins has so many resources that if they access them, it

shouldn’t be,” Egan said.

The Chamber of Commerce is a business advocate organization that

provides its members with resources, events and political


Egan said that the large number of entrepreneurs stemmed from

the colleges in the area.

“Because of the quality of life, young individuals stay in the

area and since the market is bad, they start their own businesses,”

Egan said.

Many of the top business people in Colorado are middle-aged or


“Some of the best entrepreneurs I know, without exception, are

under 40 years old,” said J.J. Johnston, president and CEO of the

Northern Colorado Economic Development Corporation.







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