Reisner co-founded Parkview Developers with partner Mati Weiderpass in 2003. Reisner had a 15 year career on Wall Street with Salomon Brothers and then Bank of America where he was a Managing Director running a $200 million derivatives business. Mr. Reisner was also the Vice President and Co-founder of Watch World International, a nationwide chain of 119 specialty stores that was sold to Sunglass Hut International in June 2000. Watch World was as much a real estate as it was a retail play. All 119 stores were planned, designed and constructed by Mr. Reisner and Mr. Weiderpass.
Topic: The business of family
Ian Reisner: One thing as an entrepreneur, you are always looking for ways to cut costs and very often you hire family members and a couple times I had family members involved in the company and that often would be a big cause of stress and debate and fights. So I'd be very careful to mix business and family; that's what one lesson that I learned from being an entrepreneur.
Topic: The competition
Ian Reisner: Never underestimate your competition and their ability to be more creative and copy what you do. Right after we opened the first store, Sunglass Hut started to copy us and produced a copycat chain called Watch Station. They literally took pictures of our stores, they hired away our workers, they wrote down our exact product mix and they copied us. And they actually opened 45 stores while we only had three. We went from one to three and they went from one to 45 in the same timeframe. Fortunately, we understood the watch business better than them and we understand the nuances of service and the right selection and we managed to beat them in terms of sales per store throughout the country. But I think one lesson is never underestimate the ability of your competition to copy you and beware of that and be prepared to fight.
Recorded on September 14, 2009