Hundreds of Briar Cliff students, faculty and community members turned up to hear former Gateway CEO Ted Waitt, founder of the computer company Gateway, tell the story of what was once a multibillion-dollar company.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Ted Waitt, billionaire philanthropist and former CEO of Gateway Inc., kicked off the sixth annual Entrepalooza event Monday evening, telling the success story that led him from a farm office to leader of a publicly traded company that once called Siouxland home.
The event, held at Briar Cliff University, is a weeklong celebration of entrepreneurship in the area, bringing together businesses, entrepreneurs and those with ideas to meet and learn.
About 200 people turned up to hear the former CEO tell the story of what was once a multibillion-dollar company.
Gateway Inc. was founded on Sept. 5, 1995, at Waitt’s father’s farm outside Sioux City. It grew into a large firm with more than 6,000 employees by direct-delivering computers.
Waitt was 22 when he met co-founder Mike Hammond at a computer store in Des Moines. Ironically, the pair didn’t have enough money to buy a computer to work with -- they had to rent one to draw up their business model. Banks rejected their loan applications several times, saying they didn’t have enough assets.
“The banks asked if we had any money. We said if we had money, we wouldn’t need a loan,” Waitt said with a laugh.
Waitt told students and others present at the Saint Francis Center that taking such a risky shot at business was best done while young.
“That’s the best time. You can change the world,” he said. “You can make a difference."