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Where a kid can be a CEO

Gene Landrum, co-founder of Chuck E.
Cheese’s speaks during the Distinguished Entrepreneur Series
Monday in the Peplow
photo via Bradley University Alumni Association

The co-founder of Chuck E. Cheese’s visited Bradley’s campus on Monday as part of the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Distinguished Entrepreneur Series. Gene Landrum spoke in front of a large group of students and community members in Hayden Clark Alumni Center.

Landrum discussed his journey to conceptualize, develop and franchise Chuck E. Cheese’s. Landrum helped to co-found Chuck E. Cheese’s in 1977 and served as the business’s first president. Additionally, Landrum has launched three $100 million firms.

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell loaned Landrum $1 million for him to develop and build his idea of Chuck E. Cheese’s. According to Landrum, the support from Bushnell was critical in establishing the business.

“Find a benefactor, somebody who has got some bucks and believes in you,” Landrum said. “Find somebody who will do that for you.”

Landrum is the sixth speaker of the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s Distinguished Entrepreneur Series. He addressed topics regarding how he successfully developed Chuck E. Cheese’s and what it takes to think like an innovator.

During his presentation, Landrum touched on the work and successful habits of other innovators including Amazon founder Jim Bezos and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. Landrum said that learning does not just have to take place in a classroom, but that education can be found in real-life working situations as well.

 “Education is critically important because you are learning … it might not be in a textbook, it might just be the stuff that you are seeing in how to deal with your life,” Landrum said. “So keep going, and keep getting educated, but sometimes, you have to go to work to do that.”

Landrum told the audience to remember one thing while they are on their journey to becoming entrepreneurs and innovators.

“Never chase the almighty buck,” Landrum said. “Never ever, ever, take a job for the money.”

Students in attendance said Landrum’s presentation allowed them to understand what kind of mindset it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.

“I think he had some valuable advice about sticking to your guts and following what you’re passionate about, even if there are others telling you to do something else,” Hannah Haberman, a senior accounting major, said.

Today, Landrum serves as a professional lecturer and has spoken at entrepreneurial engagements throughout the world. He has also authored over 20 books ranging in topics on successful business practices to psychology.

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