Determined Student Scores With Mark Cuban Event
Two Years of Persistence Paid Off for Former Entrepreneur Club Leader
Oct. 1, 2010
When management student Michael Morelli sat in class two years ago writing names of celebrities he hoped would speak to the Entrepreneurship Club (E Club), he had little clue that his daydreaming eventually would bring media and sports mogul Mark Cuban to campus.
That idea – backed by a huge measure of persistence - culminated in Cuban’s appearance earlier this month, during which the Dallas Mavericks owner delivered a wide-ranging speech to a packed house in the School of Management’s Davidson Auditorium.
Michael Morelli started working two years ago to get Mark Cuban to address the Entrepreneur Club.
An energized Cuban discussed what it takes to be an entrepreneur, answered audience questions, accepted a UT Dallas basketball jersey and mingled afterward with a crowd of students, alumni, staff and faculty.
The event was the first of a slate of events scheduled for the fall 2010 semester as part of the E Club’s Entrepreneurship Exchange Series.
“Mark is one of the highest-profile speakers the School of Management and E Club have hosted,” said E Club adviser Madison Pedigo, a faculty member in the management school’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE).
The event would not have happened had it not been for Morelli’s doggedness. He corresponded for more than two years with Cuban’s executive assistant. They originally scheduled an appearance for September 2008. Those plans fell through, but Morelli persisted. He kept finding a reason to call every three or four weeks so he could stay in touch. They scheduled another appearance for September 2009, but Cuban had to cancel.
“At this point, it became funny,” Morelli said. Cuban’s assistant “liked the fact that I was persistent even in the face of a cancellation.”
By that time, Morelli had developed rapport with her. When it came time to schedule Cuban’s fall 2010 appearance, she mentioned that Cuban was totally committed to the idea. After two and a half years Morelli had booked his first celebrity speaker.
That kind of determination reveals the soul of a salesman who is now a commercial real estate associate at The Woodmont Company, based in Fort Worth, Texas.
“It’s all about continuing to contact a prospect beyond the first or second encounter,” Morelli said. “In the case of Cuban, I kept going because the worst thing that could have happened is that his assistant would have told me to stop bothering her. But as long as I’m courteous, as long as I thank her first and follow up with a handwritten thank-you letter, why would she do that?”
Morelli’s determination exemplifies the spirit of the E Club, which strives to promote entrepreneurial activity among UT Dallas students.
“We were fortunate to have someone of Mark Cuban’s stature visit with us, and to learn from his entrepreneurial experiences,” Pedigo said. “UT Dallas and the School of Management continue to grow and gain prominence and national recognition. Mark’s visiting our campus is just one example of the many exciting activities we have going on that benefit our students and alumni.”
Alumnus George Mavromaras (BA 2009, biology) took advantage of the opportunity to introduce Mr. Cuban to the audience by asking him for Dallas Mavericks season tickets.
The ploy didn’t work, but Mavromaras, an honors graduate and past winner of the annual UT Dallas Business Idea Competition, got noticed by his hero.
“Mr. Cuban and I talked before my speech, and within a few seconds, I realized how genuine and funny he was,” Mavromaras said. “He is truly an inspiration to me, and I really hope to walk in his footsteps.”
When the audience heard Cuban speak about ways to launch a successful business, they could tell that he was clearly impressed by Mavro Inc., the medical device company Mavromaras co-founded in 2007 with his brother Marco. Cuban, while explaining to the audience that sales are the lifeblood of any company, turned to Mavromaras and said, “George, did you have to sell your product? A hundred thousand units, baby.”
E Club President Siddarth Prabhu, who will graduate from SOM’s Full-Time MBA Program in December, put the evening into perspective. “I hope this event brings recognition to the efforts of the E-Club and IIE in providing our members with exciting activities to participate in during the school term,” he said. “Our aim is to work towards improving the School of Management’s and UT Dallas’ visibility as centers for excellence in education.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban discussed what it takes to be an entrepreneur.
At left: Cuban confers with alumnus George Mavromaras (center) and student Shubham Manchanda. At right: Cuban accepts a jersey from another local basketball powerhouse, the UT Dallas Comets.
Cuban mingles afterward with a crowd of students, alumni, staff and faculty.