Most people are lucky if they have a single great idea in their lifetimes. Joseph M. Segel had two: Franklin Mint and QVC.
We recall this today because Segel died last Saturday at age 88, according to Qurate Retail Group, which now owns QVC. His career stands as a model for entrepreneurs in all fields.
Segel founded Franklin Mint in 1967, pioneering the minting and direct marketing of commemorative coins. After building it into a mega-bucks business, he retired in 1973 -- at the age of 43.
Segel’s so-called retirement was more interesting than most people’s careers: He raised thoroughbred horses, shot photos on safari and served as chairman of the board of governors of the United Nations Association.
But it is possible even for visionaries to fail. Somewhere in the years after ’73, Segel got the itch again and started Presidential Airways, a charter jet and helicopter service for executives. In an interview in 1986, he laughingly called it “a spectacularly unsuccessful enterprise.”
That interview was part of the press tour for the launch of QVC. The first broadcast, carried by 58 cable systems in 20 states, took place that November 24. QVC now reaches 380 million homes across the globe via 15 TV networks and 11 websites.
As with Franklin Mint, Segel eventually sold his QVC creation when he no longer felt like running it, which is probably what many entrepreneurs should do.
He went on to serve as chairman of the Philadelphia Presidents Organization. He was named to the Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame and the Specialty Advertising Hall of Fame, and was awarded the Electronic Retailing Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Joe Segel was a remarkable leader, entrepreneur, marketer, teacher, and friend,” states Mike George, president and CEO of Qurate Retail, Inc. “He was a visionary whose ideas changed the way the world shops.”