An Ongoing Series Highlighting Delaware Innovators
According to Rob Herrera, the most important step for innovators is the first one.
Herrera says he doesn’t see himself as an innovator – yet – but as the founder of The Mill co-workspace, he has certainly made it easier for innovators to be successful.
“I’ve been fortunate to be in close proximity to a lot of really successful ones,” said Herrera, whose community involvement includes serving as a member of the Delaware Prosperity Partnership Board of Directors.
He notes that innovators share qualities that include:
- Resilience. “When obstacles arise, an innovator sees it as a puzzle to be solved versus a barrier to success. That leads to a certain resilience of never throwing in the towel on a given idea or concept.”
- Continual reflection. “Innovators tend to be ruthlessly introspective and always re-evaluate what they are working on. They are nimble enough to change their approach to a problem regularly. They tend to be humble in the face of new information. Bending reality to benefit yourself can be helpful at times, but not in every single situation.”
- Balance. “My favorite innovators always find the right balance between being wildly creative and analytical at the same time. Innovators can lean one way or the other, but they also respect and are able to gel creative thinking with pragmatic processes – or at least know when to trust in someone who complements their skill sets.”
Herrera’s background is in architecture. He started his career with the New York firm of Perkins Eastman and then worked as an architectural consultant for two years with WeWork, the largest U.S. co-working company. Midway through the WeWork experience, he returned to Delaware to launch the first of two Mill locations. He continues to participate in other real estate and development projects in and around Wilmington, including the renovation and management of Theatre N in the Nemours Building, development of Faire Café, Girard Craft & Cork and several residential apartment buildings.
Herrera took time from his work to share why he believes Delaware is the First State for innovators and what it takes to be successful.
Why is Delaware a great state to be an innovator?
Delaware has the diversity, talent and access to decision-makers that is required to really get a business up and running. The state’s cost-of-living trends lower than any other areas in the region while still being in close proximity to New York, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia. I am certain I would not have had a successful career if I tried to build my business in a different market.
What advice would you give innovators just starting?
Do just that: Start. Sometimes that is the hardest part. Then, I would find a strong mentor to work with, someone to hold you accountable to your own goals. Mentors have taken me really far in my career. Learning from others’ mistakes helps avoid so many potentially painful situations and scenarios when starting a business.
How do you decide whether a new idea is worth pursuing or should be set aside?
I am just starting to figure this one out for myself. I have a bizarrely unique set of scars that have come from pursuing ventures I had no business pursuing. For me, it is always about the talent involved. If I have the right team in place to accomplish a particular idea, I almost always go for it. These days, I also factor in “time” as a major cost toward a new idea. I used to not value my personal time when deciding to pursue a new idea. I also factor in whether I am passionate about an idea or concept before pursuing it. There are ideas I’ve chased for financial gain only, and in almost every case I found that I really regretted doing those deals years later. I have never regretted the projects that I was passionate about and enjoyed doing. If you get that right, it feels less like a job and more like a fun project.
Newsletter Sign Up
Stay Up To Date With Delaware