Pat Yates, owner and president of the slipper company Happy Feet, spoke to WKU students Tuesday night about his experiences with business and entrepreneurship.
Yates’ product has been featured on the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” worn by Snooki on “Jersey Shore” and featured in the film “Mall Cop” and on the TV show “The Bachelorette.”
The majority of Yates’ family attended WKU, although he himself did not; one of his sons recently graduated from WKU and one is currently attending WKU.
In September 2013, Yates filmed an episode of the show “Shark Tank.” The episode was aired in April 2014. Upon an airing of a rerun of this episode, executives at DreamWorks Animation saw Yates’ product and contacted him about creating a license for Yates to make slippers of popular characters.
Happy Slippers debuted a brand new website and whole line of DreamWorks character slippers and stuffed animals just last week.
Yates also spoke about his various business experiences and gave advice and suggestions to students. One bit of advice was one he suggested as something he did not do himself at first.
“Make sure if you start a business, get an advisory board of people who know what they’re doing,” he said.
Another piece of advice was to make sure students are completely invested in their businesses.
“The biggest decision you have to make as a business person is, ‘am I all in?’” he said.
He also encouraged students to make sure they have another job if they are starting a new business so they don’t have too much hardship on themselves and to put good people around them.
Yates stayed after the main event and spoke with students one-on-one.
Casey Child, a freshman from Taylor Mill, said this event is important to show students someone successful.
“Specifically for entrepreneur opportunities, to see what someone who’s been successful in business has done and to take their advice and put into a business venture,” he said.
He found it interesting that Yates’ business grew so quickly from two publicity events.
Michael Huff, a senior from Hodgenville, said he found it interesting Yates isn’t money motivated and is still passionate.
“I find it interesting he’s still passionate, and not money motivated, and just want to grow something,” he said.