All four panelists identified strongly as nerds, but only half (Matthew Arevalo and Donna Ricci) actively sought to turn that passion into a money making venture. David Nett freely admits that he fell into being one owner of Nerdstrong Gym after a friend began designing personalized, geek-themed workouts for him and more and more people began joining the health-inspiring get togethers. Janelle Badali tried to break away from the family jewelry business, but when the reins were passed to her, she decided to learn and grow with it. Her father licensed an official One Ring years previously, so continuing to pursue other fandom properties continued to be a natural fit.
The major bits of advice from the panel for budding entrepreneurs boiled down to knowing when to ask for help and guidance, being respectful of everyone because some people may turn out to be unexpected resources, and really doing something you love. No one claimed that building a business from scratch would be easy, but they definitely felt that pursuing a passion was well worth the effort. As an added bonus, each panelist took time to talk with the eager would-be business owners after the panel ended, following the advice they’d given to treat everyone well because you just don’t know who might become a resource, a shoulder to cry on, or a great friend down the road.