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Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship & Business Ethics

» Entrepreneur America

Rob Ryan is the founder, past chairman and CEO of Ascend Communications, and currently mentors entrepreneurs through his Entrepreneur America Mentors’ boot camps at his ranch in Montana and his resort property near Jackson, Wyoming, Teton Springs Golf and Casting Resort. Ryan earned national attention when he grew his 1989 start-up company, Ascend Communications, to more than $2 billion in sales. Lucent Technologies acquired Ascend in 1999 for approximately $20+ billion in what was termed at the time the “largest technology merger ever.”

During a meeting with Argyros School Dean Thomas Turk, Ph.D. and Leatherby Center Director Mario Leone, Ryan made his book, Smartups: Lessons from Rob Ryan's Entrepreneur America Boot Camp for Start-Ups, available for download to Chapman students in exchange for student comments and feedback, which can be left on the Argyros School blog page.

Ryan has developed "The Sunflower Model" to describe the way an entrepreneur should organize their venture.

  • Sunflower Center: Core Competencies of your business
  • Sunflower Petals: Products and Markets
  • Sunflower Stem: Underlying Assumptions

Ryan's model emphasizes that the underlying assumptions of the business must remain intact for the business model to succeed, just as a sunflower will die when the stem is cut. With these assumptions supporting the core competency of the business, the petals can be built out and ranked next to determine the products and markets to target, along with the product mix for consumers.


The Sunflower Model

Rob Ryan is looking forward to your feedback and comments. Please visit the Argyros School blog and check back soon for Mr. Ryan's reply.