Courtney Manlove, Founder,

Age: 21

Education: An upcoming senior at the University of Denver (Daniels College of Business), studying marketing, business ethics and legal studies

Career History: “My whole life, our dinner conversations have all been about how to run a company,” said Courtney Manlove, a member of the third generation operating the Montana-based CE retail powerhouse, Vann’s. “I cannot say how blessed I feel to have grown up with this knowledge.

By the time I was in eighth grade, I was out on the sales floor greeting people and directing traffic. When I was in high school, I’d work the sales on Black Friday and in the marketing departmen—basically bounce all over the place.”

Those coming-of-age virtual internships left Manlove with some of her own original ideas about how to grow her family’s business. In June of 2006, she began developing, a social networking/e-commerce subsidiary of Vann’s aimed at a younger demographic. “I did two years of consumer research to really understand how younger generations think, talk and shop,” she said.

“I have an accounting teacher [at the University of Denver] who says, ‘If you’re a marketing major right now, you’re screwed!’ But I think you can actively go out and make your mark in the business world. And you know what, I don’t want to be an accountant.”

Greatest Business Achievement: “Making the personal decision to leave Montana, attend DU and really learn how to be motivated and think for myself.”

Advice: “In this industry, we sell products that people cannot live without, so we have to really grab it by the horns right now, use our core competencies and ride out this recession. We’re all going to have to start doing new media and social marketing. And why not? It’s damn near free.”

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