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Indiana University Bloomington


Entrepreneur Resources

Scott Molander: Tips for turning an idea into a successful business venture


Scott Molander took an idea and turned it into multi-million company — Hat World, Inc., which he founded with Glenn Campbell in 1995. Hat World became the leading specialty athletic head-wear retailer with hundreds of stores across 46 states and new stores being developed in markets like Hong Kong, Korea, and China.

Durning Molander's time as executive vice president, Hat World acquired key competitors, launched Hat World’s e-store, and identified expansion opportunities. 

In 2001, Hat World’s acquisition of their biggest competitor, Lids, catapulted their revenue from $45 million to $120 million. Since then, Hat World has grown to $200 million in revenue with 200 employees in Indianapolis and over 2,300 employees worldwide.

This success has not gone unnoticed. Molander and his Hat World colleagues received the prestigious Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Emerging Company category in 1999 and Retail-Wholesale Company category in 2002. They received the annual Enterprise Award from the Indianapolis Business Journal in 2003.

In 2004, Genesco, Inc., a provider of footwear and accessories based in Nashville, Tenn., acquired Hat World which remains headquartered in Indianapolis. 

Molander took some time to offer lessons to aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • You can learn as much, if not more, from a bad situation than from a good one.
  • Treat employees as you would want to be treated.
  • Never think you know everything. Always seek advice both personally and professionally.
  • Teach your employees then let them do their job.
  • Whenever I review a decision I think, “What is the worst possible outcome and can I live with that outcome?”

In addition, Molander recommends the Investor’s Business Daily 10 Secrets to Success:

  1. How you think is everything. Always be positive. Think success, not failure. Beware of a negative environment.
  2. Decide upon your true dreams and goals. Write down specific goals and develop a plan to reach them.
  3. Take action.  Goals are nothing without action.  Don’t be afraid to get started — just do it.
  4. Never stop learning.  Go back to school, read books, get training, and acquire skills.
  5. Be persistent and work hard. Success is a marathon, not a sprint.  Never give up.
  6. Learn to analyze details. Get all of the facts and learn from your mistakes.
  7. Focus your time and money. Don’t let other people or things distract you.
  8. Don’t be afraid to innovate and be different.  Following the herd is a sure way to mediocrity.
  9. Deal and communicate with people effectively.  No person is an island.  Learn to understand and motivate others.
  10. Be honest and dependable; take responsibility. Otherwise, numbers one to nine won’t matter.