An entrepreneur in spirit

Marc Junkunc's career in investment banking was short lived once he found entrepreneurship.

A native of Southern California, Junkunc received a bachelor's degree in economics from Berkeley and went straight to work on Wall Street. His second year, at his second firm, Morgan Stanley, he often found himself working with clients seeking to sell their enterprises or to take them public.

Marc Junkunc gives lecture

“What I found striking was the huge amount of value that was created by entrepreneurs. It showed me that a creative person with energy and drive could really impact society by creating products, services, jobs, and incomes for many others.”

Of course, entrepreneurs generated wealth for themselves first, he says, but the notion that “entrepreneurship is how value is created in a capitalist society” captivated him, and he decided to broaden his business education with an MBA.

He enrolled at UCLA and also launched his first business, a coffee house. Coffee houses were a new part of the cultural landscape at Berkeley and in New York City, but in early 1990s Los Angeles, there was hardly a gourmet coffee industry to speak of, he says.

MBA students didn't have any cool places to hang out and work on group projects, he says. “My partner and I saw the market need and jumped on it.” It was a challenge starting his first business as a first-year MBA student, he says, but it made money, and he and his partner ran it for three years before selling it.

Junkunc went on to new ventures with other entrepreneurs, including a business incubator and investment group that focused on Internet startups. “We did several investments. It was a lot of fun and a wild ride.”

The entrepreneurial adventure

The entrepreneurial life, he says, can be a very interesting one. “Working on what you really believe in is rewarding, and calling the shots is exciting. There is often high unpredictability in what each day will bring, which keeps life fresh and moving in different directions. You meet a lot of great people in unexpected ways.”

During this period, Junkunc also worked as an independent business consultant to entrepreneurs and small and mid-sized firms and earned another master's degree, in economics.

Discovering that entrepreneurship was an emerging area of scholarly studies, he saw an opportunity for someone with his background in finance, economics, and entrepreneurship to help develop the fledgling field.

He returned to UCLA for his third graduate degree there, a Ph.D. in management. He taught for six years at the University of Miami, where he received a teaching award, before joining Virginia Tech in 2011.

He still considers himself an entrepreneur, in spirit. “Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and in all settings. There are entrepreneurs in large companies, in non-profit settings, in start-ups, and in universities. It is more of a mindset than anything else.”

Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business Magazine Fall 13

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