Innovation in Family Business: Capturing the entrepreneurial spirit and ambition of the younger generation

Joe Schmieder
Joe Schmieder

Rick DeVos, a 28-year-old highly-entrepreneurial third-generation family member, wanted to create some new business ventures that did not fit into the current family business.  His parents wanted to encourage their son’s entrepreneurial spirit yet ground him in business reality.

Entrepreneurism runs in the family.  Rick is the grandson of Rich DeVos, who is the co-founder of Amway.  Rick’s father, Dick, led Amway into the international arena where the majority of the business is conducted today, and his mother, Betsy, comes from an enterprising family that developed a large auto parts company with many creative products that line the inside of cars.  Thus, with two creative blood lines coursing his veins, Rick possesses an abnormally high degree of creativity.

To harness this creative energy, the family provided a “loose leash” and seed money to create a host of ventures, including an internet film business, an entrepreneurial award business, and an open social-network art contest.  The highly-acclaimed ArtPrize (www.artprize.org) has taken the art world by storm, creating one of the most innovative ways to engage an entire community in the conversation about art while providing a great opportunity for artists to share their work.

How are you capturing the creativity of the younger generation in your family business?

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