YC School of business speaker series

A Conversation with Richard Bitner
When: Tuesday, February 27, 4:30 – 6 p.m.
Where: Prescott campus, bldg. 19-147
Admission: Free

After three decades in the housing and publishing industries, Richard Bitner describes himself as a serial entrepreneur: “I have owned and operated several different businesses and had a lot of amazing experiences along the way.

The NAU and Cornell graduate has started seven companies since 2000, including Kellner Mortgage Investments – a mortgage lender that thrived during the housing boom. But Bitner recognized the flaws and excesses in the mortgage industry and divested before the 2008 crash. He became a nationally recognized expert on its causes and wrote a book – Confessions of a Subprime Lender articulating the systemic problems that led to the collapse. Now residing in North Carolina, he was the founding partner and publisher of HousingWire, a financial trade media and publishing company.

Bitner will share lessons from his eclectic career in the first installment of the Yavapai College School of Business’s new guest speaker series, “A Conversation with…” Tuesday, February 27, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. in the Community Room of the Prescott Campus Library.

“I want to have a conversation with students,” he says. “I don’t want to lecture – they have classes for that. I find people learn by stories. As I share my story, I talk about the lessons I’ve learned, and the inflection points I’ve faced.”

Though his own career has taken him many places, Bitner’s heart remains with entrepreneurship. “One of the things I love to do is ask [students] ‘What business have you thought about?’” He enjoys the process of shaping a clever idea into an opportunity. “You have to examine it and put it though a number of thought processes before you can put it into a business plan.”

Starting a business from scratch, he says, is a creative process every budding entrepreneur should consider.

“Maybe you’re not ready to do it right now. But it’s good to start thinking about it.” Entrepreneurial thinking requires a healthy blend of imagination, inspiration and bottom-line practicality. “I love to see the passion of early-stage entrepreneurs. Passion is half the battle, but it won’t sustain a business. At the end of the day, a business exists, in part, to enable the owner to make a living.”

“A lot of it is profitability and sustainability. If you’re going into a business, you should be able to find a way to sustain it. A good idea, he says, isn’t necessarily a billion-dollar idea, but one that’s personally fulfilling and can sustain itself along the way. “I tell people: ‘Where do you want to end up? Start with the end in mind. Finish your last chapter and then work backward to figure out all the stuff in between.’” 

Whether you’re climbing the ladder at an existing organization, or starting one from scratch, Bitner counsels students not to go it alone. “Mentorships are a big thing to me,” he says. As a rising star in the business world, he relied heavily upon the counsel of others. “Between 18 to 25, I hadn’t lived long enough to know everything. Different mentors, at key points, played a monumental role in my success.” He has mentored multiple students.

“Many of whom have started businesses.” He is a strong advocate for the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and participates in talks like this one as a means of paying it forward. Business students “should be looking for and finding people who help and guide you.” He says. “You can start with me. If you come to me with a problem, we will talk it through.”

The object, he says, is to use the recent past to inform another’s future. “My job is to bring students something of value. At then end of the day, you stand on the shoulders of people who came before you.”

“A Conversation with Richard Bitner” will be held Tuesday, February 27 from 2:30 – 4 p.m. in the Prescott Campus Community Room, Bldg. 19-147. Admission is free and everyone is welcome. For more information about the School of Business “A Conversation with…” series, please visit: