Two of Denver’s most accomplished entrepreneurs and leaders spoke at the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship certificate ceremony on Thursday evening.

One speaker was Jabs himself, who last May made a $10 million contribution to dramatically expand entrepreneurship education, research, programmatic reach and caliber within the CU Denver Business School. The other was Lloyd Lewan, Ph.D., and chairman of Lewan & Associates, an office equipment dealership.

Madhavan Parthasarathy, Ph.D., director of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship, introduced the speakers and congratulated the certificate awardees. Fifty-eight students earned a certificate this year, and about 20 attended the ceremony with friends and family.

“This is a very momentous day at the Jake Jabs Center because it’s like a graduation ceremony for us,” Parthasarathy said in the fifth-floor Laube Commons at the Business School. “It’s when our certificate recipients get their certificates. This is merely the beginning for you.”

The Jake Jabs Center takes entrepreneurship from the classroom to the real world and provides hands-on learning opportunities. Parthasarathy asked the students to raise their hands if they had participated in the Business Plan Competition, the Rutt Bridges Venture Capital Fund, the Denver Founders Network, or the Jake Jabs Center Speaker Series. Hands went up around the room as each program was mentioned.

He then introduced the speakers, noting that thanks to Jabs’ “incredible gift” the center will be expanding the size of its Business Plan Competition.

Jabs, president and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, said entrepreneurs aren’t motivated by the money. “We’re doing a real service, We’re offering people a good service, quick service, at a good price. That’s really what entrepreneurs do,” he said. “We’re in it for the journey. We’re in it for the success, for doing good in the community.”

He said his main desire has always been to provide the best operation in the marketplace. “We need more entrepreneurs in America — more than we’ve ever needed them,” Jabs said. “Being an entrepreneur is about taking risks. I’ve taken risks all my life, and I’m still taking risks. Just try to do a good job at what you do. Thanks for graduating from our school.”

Lewan, who is also founder and chairman of the board of Semester at Sea, an international ship board study program for college students, outlined the characteristics of entrepreneurs and leaders.

“You find me a true entrepreneur and I’ll find you someone who only cares about those he or she serves,” Lewan said. “Entrepreneurs don’t look to the side to try to impress their peers, nor do they look up and try to impress their bosses. They always look at those that they serve.”

Lewan, who has written three books on leadership, said being a leader requires graciousness, a pure motive and a peaceful comport.

“Entrepreneurs and leaders are different breeds,” Lewan said.

(Photo at top: Jake Jabs, founder and CEO of American Furniture Warehouse, talks about the characteristics of entrepreneurs at the Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship certificate ceremony on Dec. 12.)

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