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'Lifetime entrepreneur' talks success

Christopher Mohs has pursued everything from a lemonade stand to most recently, Frostfire Media. He spoke during Minnesota State Community & Technical College's Business & Entrepreneurial Services program speaker series. (Vicki Gerdes/DL Newspapers)

Christopher Mohs has been an entrepreneur for most of his life.

From running a "lemonade" stand that featured Crystal Light Raspberry Ice instead of lemonade, to being the editor of the high school yearbook, to running global marketing projects for Daimler Chrysler and Microsoft -- Mohs has constantly worked to make his current endeavors bigger and better.

He equated being an entrepreneur with "jumping off a cliff" -- and seeing who will follow you down.

"You're the guy that's jumping off the cliff, and if a bunch of people follow -- then you have a game plan," he joked.

Mohs' most recent endeavor, Frostfire Media, was launched in 2005 as a limited partnership between himself and Sarah McCurdy, a fellow Concordia College alum with whom he had worked on developing the award-winning documentary film, "Nancy Burggraf: Power & Stride."

The 1998 Detroit Lakes High School grad spoke about that project, as well as the life experiences that led up to its creation, in a special presentation Friday morning at Minnesota State Community & Technical College.

It was the opening presentation in the college's 2009-10 Speaker Series, hosted by the Business & Entrepreneurial Services program.

Mohs, who is the president and CEO of Frostfire, talked a lot about the process involved in making the limited partnership between himself and McCurdy into a multi-faceted media corporation that now includes consulting, model/talent, recording, film, print publication, marketing and retail divisions.

The consulting division has been "the funding source for everything," Mohs added, and while they have occasionally obtained funding packages for various projects through local banking institutions, Mohs said the financing of Frostfire has not been done through traditional means.

"It's been a lot of repetitive investing into the growth of the company," he said.

Mohs said his experiences as a "lifetime entrepreneur" had paved the way for his success with Frostfire, which now includes one of Fargo-Moorhead's most-read publications, Open Magazine.

Launched in 2007, Open Magazine has a circulation of approximately 120,000 ("which is slightly larger than the Fargo Forum," Mohs said).

He added that part of the reason for the magazine's success is that it is "continually evolving," with himself and his creative team constantly trying to find new ways to make it better.

So popular has the magazine become that the Fargo-Moorhead business community began asking his company to develop a similar, business-oriented publication.

That venture, Fargo-Moorhead Business Magazine, was launched this spring, Mohs said. When asked how long it took for them to launch the magazine, Mohs said it had a relatively short turnaround.

"We green-lighted it in January, and set it to launch in March," he said, though the official launch date was slightly delayed by the spring flooding in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Mohs is also excited about another of Frostfire's relatively new projects, The online retail venture has "huge amounts of potential -- largely untapped yet," he said.

Mohs gave full credit to his creative team and board of advisors -- made up of professionals and consumers from a wide range of backgrounds -- for making Frostfire a success.

"The reality is that everything that is Frostfire wouldn't be there without the team that supports everything we do," he said.

As for knowing when to strike and when to pull back with new media ventures, Mohs said "a lot of it is instinct" -- instinct gained through years of doing "global marketing on a shoestring" and finding creative ways to do things better for less money.

His management style is pretty much "hands off," he added, with each member of his team asked to be accountable for meeting their commitments.

"I'm not a micro-manager," he said, adding that he prefers to put his energy into developing new ideas -- i.e., fresh challenges.

"It's (entrepreneurship) an addiction to the challenge," Mohs admitted.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454