How did you become an entrepreneur?
I don’t think people become entrepreneurs. Instead, I believe the opportunities bring it out in them. When I speak with other founders and entrepreneurs and get their back story, very rarely have they not always hustled to create a business. It just keeps building through one’s life, and typically gets more ambitious. Entrepreneurship in itself is about iterating and constantly reinventing. And that is the ambiguity that most people are uncomfortable with. So to be an entrepreneur, one must overcome this unnatural feeling of never really knowing what is next. My journey began in high school and continued to grow through my career until I was able to spin it into an occupation and build a business large enough to support my family.
What is your vision for the future of your company? Of your community?
The vision for my current company, ReturnLogic, is to enable a retail environment where zero products are returned. While this may never truly be possible, every step closer has exponential impacts onto the bottom line of our clients. We will continuously strive towards that goal.
Harrisburg has an emerging tech community. There are so many great entrepreneurs in our area that quietly operate and grow impressive companies. I see in the not too distant future an inflection point where our raw talent and technical opportunity meet to create an ecosystem that is self-supporting and creating valuable technical careers. Entrepreneurs are the spark that will ignite this.
What has been the biggest challenge to creating a new venture?
Ignoring your doubts. Make no mistake, creating a new venture is filled with doubts from every direction. Friends, family, coworkers, everyone will think it is a bad idea, until it isn’t. This comes with the aforementioned ambiguity. The challenge for the entrepreneur is to discern what are real risks that are unacceptable versus risks that can be overcome. And the best way to answer this is to surround yourself with other successful entrepreneurs.
What advice would you give to an earlier version of yourself?
Think bigger. There are no bounds or limits on dreams. It is just as hard to build a small business as a large one. So if you are going to take the risk, go big.
Tell me about your biggest surprise or lesson learned as an entrepreneur?
Nothing happens quickly. Relationships take time, marketing takes time, and growth takes time. So however you estimate the resources or time necessary to achieve a specific milestone or goal, double it.
Peter Sobotta is the founder and CEO of Return Logic, a technology startup that enables retailers to manage and optimize their product-returns strategy. Sobotta is a known industry expert and thought leader in the field of reverse logistics, ecommerce and supply-chain management.
Entrepreneurship and Everyday Heroes
Scott Shirley, Tech Entrepreneur & Non-profit Executive
35 Years of Entrepreneurship
Joe Chiarella, Sculptor of companies, products and relationships.
No Agenda Other Than Connection
Anne Kirby, Founder of The Candy Factory, coworking in Lancaster. The Sweet Core, Perkup & Co & Kick Ass Female Entrepreneurs.