Priceline.com founder says college students must find their “golden purpose”

Josh Medlock

Successful businessman and co-founder of Priceline.com, Jeff Hoffman, shared tips on how to become a prosperous entrepreneur Wednesday, at IU Southeast’s Ogle Center.

Hoffman has founded numerous thriving businesses, and held leadership positions in a wide range of companies, including Priceline.com and ColorJar. He has also been the CEO of Black Sky Entertainment, where he produced independent movies and oversaw music tours of groups such as Boyz II Men, Britney Spears and Elton John.

Hoffman stressed the importance of taking risks and working hard when seeking success in the business world. He said this success begins with pure passion for an idea.

“The people driven by some purpose far out-performed people motivated by money,” he said.

Hoffman challenged the audience to dream big and have a determined attitude towards their start-up idea. He said this requires hard work, even if it means missing a few nights out with friends.

“Nobody gives it to you,” he said. “You have to pick up the shovel and dig.”

In addition to working hard, Hoffman said taking big risks is necessary to achieve big rewards. He said there is no reason to be afraid of failure, but instead fear apathy.

“If you never fail you’re just not trying hard enough,” he said.

Directing his attention especially to college students, Hoffman said everyone must find their own “golden purpose” in life—the thing they were born to do— to use as their first business venture. He said if they could be the best in one thing, then they would be recognized in the business world and gain credibility among consumers.

Hoffman, who funded his college education with money from a start-up business, defined entrepreneurship as someone who solves real problems. He said entrepreneurs can change not only their own destiny, but the future of their entire society.

“The entrepreneur that I admire the most is the one that no one has ever heard of,” Hoffman said. “He is in a village in Africa with no running water and no floors, just dirt, and working by candlelight and he’s launching something anyway because he wants to build a better life for himself and his family.”

According to his personal website, Hoffman has been invited to speak in over 50 countries. He is currently a member of the boards of companies in the United States, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Brittanni Aldridge, business marketing senior, said she was inspired by Hoffman’s self-empowering message.

“I think the biggest thing was make your dreams come true. Don’t let anybody stand in your way. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.”
Hoffman’s speech marks the fifth year of Sanders Speaker Series, which was created through donations by IU Southeast alumnae Judge Carlton and Sue Sanders.