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May 07, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Moser Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership introduced to the Knoxville community

David Ogle of Five Oaks Development Group shares his entrepreneurial journey during the breakfast event on Tuesday morning.

More than 50 people turned out early Tuesday morning when Carson-Newman University hosted a breakfast event to introduce its new Moser Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership to the Knoxville community.

Hosted at Scrambled Jakes in the Rocky Hill community, the event was emceed by Moser Center Director John Morris and featured a presentation by David Ogle, President of Five Oaks Development Group in Sevier County. His comments followed brief presentations by Morris and Robin Van Huss, Assistant Professor of Management and Director of the new Entrepreneurial Leadership MBA (see January 2024 article here).

Van Huss said the new MBA program, which begins this fall, will focus on “ethics to leadership,” and is designed to “bring (additional) prosperity to the region.” The latter point was reemphasized by Morris who said the MBA program, in conjunction with the Moser Center, is all about the important role that entrepreneurship plays in the economic development of a community.

He explained that the Center’s priorities include convening – “not reinventing the wheel, but connecting,” recruiting mentors and coaches, hosting a business plan competition in the fall, and providing the all-important “connections to capital.”

Dr. Charles Fowler, President of Carson-Newman, introduced Ogle, noting that the Moser Center and the new MBA are “distinctive in the marketplace” for their emphasis on Christian principles and virtue.

David Ogle

In his introduction of the individual who chaired the Search Committee that brought him to Carson-Newman in 2019, Fowler described Ogle as an “entrepreneur’s entrepreneur.” He comes from a long line of entrepreneurs who moved to Sevier County in 1805. Among other endeavors, Ogle was one of the Co-Founders of SmartBank, a financial institution launched in Pigeon Forge in 2007 just ahead of the Great Recession (see article here).

Ogle explained that the founding group was involved in tourism in one way or another and had a goal to develop what he described as an “unconventional bank.” When one of his Co-Founders came up with the name SmartBank, Ogle said he asked, “What if you are called SmartBank but aren’t.”

That was point was reinforced later when he answered a question after his formal remarks about advice Ogle would offer aspiring entrepreneurs. He answered it with his own question that requires an answer: “If this doesn’t work, what then?” The point: look ahead several steps if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur.

Ogle concluded with the statement about “how much God has blessed me,” and offered two additional pieces of advice: don’t give up, and it’s good to work hard, but also work smart, a perhaps not so subtle reference to the bank he co-founded.

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