Jerry Ropelato, Weber State University business alumni, shared his greatest successes and failures with an audience of students and faculty on March 14 and offered advice to those currently pursuing a degree in business.
Ropelato has spent over thirty years creating, trading and selling small businesses, which he continues to do today.
As a co-founder of WhiteClouds in Ogden, he helps control the largest full-color 3-D printing facility in the world and the premier software platform to share 3D products through the world market.
“We basically help businesses create personalized products for their customers,” Ropelato said of WhiteClouds. “Simple as that.”
WhiteClouds is the primary supplier of miniature character models for Microsoft video games and a supplier of anatomical diagrams for over 75,000 hospitals across the country.
WhiteClouds provided the first 3-D printed full-scale model heart to Primary Children’s Hospital just last year.
“Listening to (Ropelato) speak, I feel so inspired,” Ryan Dixon, WSU senior in professional sales, said. “There are so many opportunities for the future, and we are just getting started.”
Throughout his life, Ropelato has started about eight businesses, only three of which have “crashed and burned.”
Ropelato said his proudest accomplishment was the creation of IQ Quest, a software featuring financial planning and learning activities for children. It was created by Ropelato and four others in 1984, around the time personal computers were becoming popular and widespread around the country.
Some attendees had already begun ventures in business, like Tyson Anderson, a business management major at WSU.
“It’s great being in this environment. These people have all started businesses, and I just eat up everything they say,” Anderson said.
Anderson appreciates learning about the mistakes others have made so that he can avoid making them in his own ventures.
Anderson is the co-founder of Mad Ties Make a Difference, which is based in Ogden. The purpose of the business is to donate a portion of every sale to a specific cause, such as disaster relief for victims or patients at local hospitals.
“Find a problem and solve it,” Ropelato said. “Don’t let anything get in the way of that.”