Entrepreneurs need confidence. “I think some of mine comes from having grown up in a strong and supportive family,” says Yan Revzin, CEO of FortuneCookieAdvertising.com. “I also find inspiration from studying successful leaders and entrepreneurs whom I admire.” Photo by Jerry Speier.

[dropcap sid=”dropcap-1430857437″]Y[/dropcap]an Revzin started FortuneCookieAdvertising.com, which places branded messages inside fortune cookies and distributes them to targeted Chinese restaurants, in 2012. The finance major and CEO was inspired to found his business by “the personal freedom and unlimited potential that a business offers.”

Last fall Revzin and his young company partnered with the Missouri State Lottery for a one-month campaign that helped the lottery place nearly 1 million fortune cookies with lottery-themed messages and lucky numbers in 70 plus restaurants throughout the state. Because of the fun, first-time promotion, state and public education received a 19 percent higher transfer, or $25.4 million, over the previous nonpromotion months.

To what does Revzin owe his strong first successes? The finance major simply loves marketing and his customers: “I enjoy discovering new and nontraditional ways to get businesses’ messages heard.” Revzin also prides himself on hearing the messages his customers send him. “Communication is one of the most important abilities you need to succeed in business. Whether you are dealing with other businesses or retail customers, you have to be able to empathize with them and figure out what they want or need.”


Q: What adjective(s) do you use to describe entrepreneurs?

A: Creative, brave, inspired, optimistic, ambitious, persistent.

Q: What excited you about entrepreneurship generally?

A: I wanted the personal freedom and unlimited potential that a business offers. I was also inspired by the possibility of helping people find new ways to promote themselves. As the owner of a business that helps other businesses with marketing, I enjoy discovering new and nontraditional ways to get their messages heard.

Q: What inspired you to start/found FortuneCookieAdvertising.com?

A: I had my ‘aha’ moment when I was sitting at Chinese restaurant and noticed that everyone cracked open the fortune cookie and read the fortune. I realized that placing a unique brand message on the back slip without removing the generic fortune on the front would be a unique and fun way for companies to advertise their brand.

Q: What skill(s) do you have naturally that help you as a small-business person?

A: I’ve always been good at communicating with people and understanding their needs. I think this is one of the most important qualities you need to succeed in business. Whether you are dealing with other businesses or retail customers, you have to be able to empathize with them and figure out what they want or need. My ability to do this has made it easier for me to develop products and services that are in demand.

Q: Entrepreneurs have to have confidence. Where did you find yours?

A: Confidence comes from a basic belief in yourself and your own worth and abilities. I think some of mine comes from having grown up in a strong and supportive family. I also find inspiration from studying successful leaders and entrepreneurs whom I admire.

Q: What do you like/love about being an entrepreneur?

A: I really like the freedom and sense of adventure that it brings. While most jobs get to be very predictable, when you have your own business it’s up to you to decide what path to take. You can decide what to sell, how to market, and how fast you want to grow. I love the feeling of being in control of my own destiny.

Q: What’s your biggest challenge?

A: My biggest challenge is learning how to pace myself so I don’t try to do everything at once. Part of this is time management and learning how to set priorities. If I have a certain goal, I am sometimes impatient to reach it quickly. But I have to make sure I take the time to follow through with every necessary step. 

Q: What keeps your customers coming back?

A: The knowledge that I am really committed to doing everything I can to meet their needs. I want to build ongoing relationships with customers so they stay with me and recommend me to their friends and colleagues. If people know you’re willing to go the extra mile for them, they have no reason to go anywhere else. I’ve also found that it’s important to look at each customer as an individual with unique needs. People like to be treated as individuals and know that you understand them. 

Q: Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

A: When you feel inspired to try something, do it and don’t worry about failure. You can learn as much from failing as from succeeding.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be willing to take risks. If you waste time worrying about why something might not work out, you will never get started. At the same time, you should do your research and take sensible precautions. But never be afraid to try something.

Related Article:

4 Strategies for Offline Advertising—An Article by Baruch Student Yan Revzin (’16) for Yahoo! Business Advisor