By Amanda C. Kooser
Victor Mitchell never could seem to hold down a job. The self-described "unemployable man" has instead preferred to hold together his own businesses-all the way back to when he was still a junior at San Diego State University. "I had to make it on my own, or I'd probably be pushing a shopping cart," he says.
Mitchell's path to success has been littered with ownership stints, running a limo service, a cell phone retail store and other ventures. Then, in 1996, he hit on the idea that would stick: He opened Advantage Wireless in Denver.
Mitchell has turned one store in Denver into a major wireless distributor with 60 Advantage Wireless licensee retail stores and more than 600 independent sub-dealer retail locations in 26 states. He describes most of the locations as mom-and-pop independent dealers offering a variety of phones and carriers in a "consultant-style, consumer-friendly environment." The company will be in 30 states by the end of this year and plans to be nationwide before long.
But Mitchell's company isn't just growing across the United States-it's also branching out into cyberspace with eAdvantageWireless.com. "[I want to] put together a click-and-mortar e-commerce solution [that provides] a comparison shopping service for people via our Web site to demystify the whole buying experience." Mitchell's Web site allows customers to buy cell phones and calling plans online or visit stores in their geographical areas.
Setting such high goals is a big part of what has powered Advantage Wireless. With a multimillion-dollar national advertising campaign underway and company sales for 1999 skyrocketing past $30 million, is Mitchell content? "I don't really consider us successful," he says. "I see companies with $10 billion, $100 billion capitalization. We've got goals to eventually go public if the stars align, but we're not even a $100-million-a-year company yet, so I don't really consider us successful in the scope of a large company."
Though Mitchell no longer has to take care of the company's day-to-day operations, he still puts in solid 50-to-60-hour workweeks and spends his time focusing on the strategic aspects of the business. But his ultimate goal has little to do with phones or calling plans. "I want to be out of the business within four years," he says. "My long-term goal: Within six years, I want to run for governor of Colorado. I look at this as a means to an end. Politics is what I love."
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