Curt Richardson, founder and chairman of Otter Products LLC, addresses the audience at the Bravo! Entrepreneur awards gala in Loveland Thursday. Richardson received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. Chad Collins/BizWest

Bravo! Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement award winner Richardson looks within

LOVELAND — Curt Richardson’s best advice for business leaders after decades of experience comes in the form of a question:

“What do you want?”

The answer to that question can set a course for a fulfilling career and personal life, he told attendees of BizWest’s 2019 Bravo! Entrepreneur awards Thursday night at the Embassy Suites in Loveland.

Richardson received the Bravo! Entrepreneur awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award for developing Otterbox from a single prototype in his garage in the early ’90s into global phone case juggernaut Otter Products LLC.

He said he couldn’t have won that award without the support of his family and staff that believed in Otter Products even when it teetered on the edge of insolvency, and a group of business coaches that taught him how to go from building products to building a network of systems that would keep the company stable as it grew.

“It was a rocket ride,” he said. “We went from a $5 million company to a $1.1 billion company in no time flat. It was fun, but there were times where it was a nightmare. Strategy is what held us together.”

Richardson told the audience that deciding what they want out of life isn’t inherently selfish if it helps them prioritize what matters most to their ventures.

He said he thrived on the mentality of handling everything himself, jumping from problem to problem in the company’s early years. But because he asked himself the question of what he wanted out of Otter, he knew when he had reached his goal  — and when it was time to step away from the company that had outgrown him.

“What do you really want? It’s a tough question,” he said. “When you really dig deep, it’s a hard question to answer. It’s not a good thing, it’s a hard thing. What really matters to you, and what really matters to those around you? It’s not selfish. It’s not materialistic. What I discovered I wanted was to help others understand their God-given gifts, help them realize those gifts and create an environment that fosters that. I think if you asked almost any Otter that, they would agree.”

LOVELAND — Curt Richardson’s best advice for business leaders after decades of experience comes in the form of a question:

“What do you want?”

The answer to that question can set a course for a fulfilling career and personal life, he told attendees of BizWest’s 2019 Bravo! Entrepreneur awards Thursday night at the Embassy Suites in Loveland.

Richardson received the Bravo! Entrepreneur awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award for developing Otterbox from a single prototype in his garage in the early ’90s into global phone case juggernaut Otter Products LLC.

He said he couldn’t have won that award without the support of his family and staff that believed in Otter Products even when it teetered on the edge of insolvency, and a group of business coaches that taught him how to go from building products to building a network of systems that would keep the company stable as it grew.

“It was a rocket ride,” he said. “We went from a $5 million company to a $1.1 billion company in no time flat. It was fun, but there were times where it was a nightmare. Strategy is what held us together.”

Richardson told the audience that deciding what they want out of life isn’t inherently selfish if it helps them prioritize what matters most to their ventures.

He said he thrived on the mentality of handling everything himself, jumping from problem to problem in the company’s early years. But because he asked himself the question of what he wanted out of Otter, he knew when he had reached…