By: Elikem Tsikata
I had the opportunity to speak with three of my peers for this month’s “Entrepreneur of the Month” feature. Tom Gish ’20, Arther Hart ’20, and Chris Riley ’20 are all in the final year of their law school career here at Dickinson Law. Simultaneously, the three panelists are in the early stages of their own entrepreneurial ventures.
Chris Riley and Arther Hart are co-founders of MetaShift Gaming LLC. Both are third-year law students at Dickinson Law. MetaShift focuses on creating the infrastructure of esports from the amateur level through the professional level. Chris and Arther recognize that esports has become a huge point of interest for investors as it has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. MetaShift aims to be part of this growth and part of the foundation of esports as a whole.
Chris is from California and has his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with an emphasis in film media. In law school he has shown interest in cyber security law.
Arther Hart is originally from Millville, Utah. He has his Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Engineering. Arther currently lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, with his wife and daughter. Through MetaShift Gaming, Arther is hoping to establish an esports bar in central Utah.
Tom Gish is a Pennsylvania native who lives in Hershey with his wife and two children. He has his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and is currently a member of the Penn State JD/MBA program. Tom is the founder of Greenacre Properties, LLC, a real estate investment company. The company purchased its first property earlier this year, a 4-unit apartment building. Once the renovation of the building is complete, Tom plans to use the equity in the property to purchase another apartment building.
The HBO mini-series The Night Of coined the phrase “Subtle Beast” in its second episode. I’ve always viewed the term, “subtle beast” as one of respect, if not endearment. It’s an acknowledgment of the type of person whose work ethic and drive are aggressive, yet their demeanor is poised and controlled.
I believe that the three panelists personified this term in their entrepreneurial pursuits. Each carries composed confidence coupled with tamed excitement about the future of their individual ventures. I gained an appreciation for the passion and self-assurance displayed for their entrepreneurial processes.
Refusal to be Bound
When asked what motivated each student-entrepreneur to where they are currently, all three echoed an idea seemingly present in most great entrepreneurial minds: A refusal to be one dimensional. While each member mentioned the value of their legal training, they emphasized the importance of professional versatility as entrepreneurs.
“I didn’t want to be limited.” – Tom Gish
As a member of a dual JD/MBA program, Tom knew early in law school he wanted to supplement his legal training with a business background. He felt that he had an opportunity to increase his professional value by combining the two skill sets.
Interestingly, all three panelists were raised with entrepreneurial ties within their families. Both Chris and Arther grew up with fathers who owned businesses, which shaped their entrepreneurial spirits at early ages.
“My Dad was always about helping others with their needs, helping solve problems. I think that just passed onto me.” – Chris Riley
Balancing Act: Being a Student while Starting a Business
As law students, the idea of being perpetually busy is not a foreign concept. Weekly readings, lectures, research, memos, externships, student organizations, and outlining are found in the average week. It would be naïve to believe that the pursuit of a JD wouldn’t be a tasking experience. But to embark on this endeavor while simultaneously starting your own business? That requires a serious level of juggling ability.
“Pursuing my MBA and JD at the same time can be challenging, but I don’t consider it to be a burden. I have to think in terms of embracing this challenge, rather than worrying about it.” – Tom Gish
Tom’s words capture the panel’s mindset of balancing education and business aspirations. At no point during our conversation did any panelist speak in a manner that made me believe they felt burdened. I was surprised by the subtle confidence in their words. Not arrogance at how easy starting a business would be. Not fear at the daunting risks ahead of them. Quiet, steady confidence. Subtle beasts.
Why Law School?
There is still a misnomer in today’s world that going to law school and not ultimately practicing law is abnormal. However, while the tools and training that students receive over three years of law school are rooted in the study of law, they are beneficial in so many other fields.
“The legal education is invaluable for anybody who wants to get into a highly regulated field. The field we want to get into is involved in esports, but it is also involved in alcohol. It is very, very difficult to navigate all of the regulations and laws that come with those sorts of things. Having that legal training really can be invaluable when drafting out a plan to move forward or learning how to deal with government agencies. The skills that you learn in law school are fantastic. As a budding entrepreneur, I wanted to make sure I had set myself up the best I could.” – Arther Hart
“There’s a lot of skills that you pick up in law school. A lot of habits and abilities that will contribute towards being a successful businessman. So, I thought it really tied in with the entrepreneurial spirit I’ve grown up with and thought it could be a good jumping-off point for me.” – Chris Riley
The panelists spoke positively about their experiences with the business classes at Dickinson Law. Specifically, all three specifically talked about the Entrepreneurship Law: Company Creation course. The course is described as follows:
“Students survey the legal issues confronted by entrepreneurs and develop the practical skills to effectively and ethically represent them. This occurs through simulations where students interview, counsel, plan, draft, collaborate and negotiate. Students also draft relevant blog posts, client correspondence and memoranda typical of those that surface in small business and entrepreneur representation. This course is designed for anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur or represent one.”
Additional classes mentioned as particularly beneficial include Business Entities I and II, Cyberlaw, and experiential learning classes in general.
Advice for Student-Entrepreneurs
The biggest lesson this panel taught me is that ambition and mindset are everything. “Take Action. I think that’s something that plagues someone with a legal brain that’s rational and reasoned. It’s counter-intuitive for us to want to take a risk. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to be comfortable with some extent of that.” – Tom Gish
Hear more directly from the students by clicking here.
Arther: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, by Alexander Osterwalder
Tom: The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure, by Grant Cardone
Chris: Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon, by Larry Tye
Elikem Tsikata, at the time of this post, is a 2L at Penn State’s Dickinson Law. He is a Ghanaian-American from McLean, Virginia, and a graduate of Miami University (OH). Elikem is pursuing a certificate in Entrepreneurship Law with a Transactional concentration. He is interested in corporate transactional law and international development, specifically in African countries. Elikem is currently serving as the Vice President of the Student Bar Association.