Founder of RayGun, a local Des Moines shop, Mike Draper talks to Drake students about the world of running a business

In a room filled with Drake business students, laughter fills the air as Mike Draper, Founder of the local Des Moines t-shirt shop RayGun, speaks at the front of the stage. 

“I’m like the LeBron James of showing up regularly,” said Draper. This gets a few chuckles out of the business majors at Drake University as Draper continues to share his story of success in the business world. 

Daniel J. Connolly, Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, coordinates the BizTalk events and their speakers. 

“The seminar series brings in people from a variety of industries and roles to give students multiple perspectives in order to shape their thinking and professional careers and help them transition from student mode to the professional world by better understanding issues facing business leaders,” said Connolly in an email.

During Draper’s speech on Friday, being someone those around you could rely on became a main topic.

Friday, Feb. 8 was the start of the series of events known as BizTalk at Drake. Only new to campus since the Fall of 2018, BizTalk at Drake is a series of speaker centered events whose goal is to connect business professionals to Drake University’s Students. 

“Of the ten things you need to succeed in life, talent and experience, maybe number ten. One through nine, dependability,” said Draper. 

Arianna Stasinoulias, Senior at Drake University, attended the seminar as a requirement for her Marketing major. Stasinoulias reflects on one thing she will take away from Draper’s speech. 

“Creativity and running something versus wanting to work in what you actually want to work in,” said Stasinoulias. 

During his speech, Draper hopes every college student follows one rule.

“if you are going to do anything in life, just reply to emails,” Draper said, “you could drop out of school right now reply to emails for the rest of your life and do way better than getting a degree and not replying to emails.”

In 2012, RayGun published a book called “The Midwest: God’s Gift to Planet Earth” and got a little bit of backlash from it.

“Some people were like, ‘well what qualifies a t-shirt shop to write a history book’,” Draper said, “and I was like technically I have a degree in history, so I am more qualified to write the book than I am to run the t-shirt shop.”

Draper and his company RayGun have contributed to the community on many levels. In 2009, Draper testified before Congress on healthcare. Draper hopes that although the store is known for words on shirts, that people see more than that. 

“We have worked on clean water, public education, bike lanes, sidewalks, health care reform and gender equality, so it is not just words on stuff,” said Draper. There will be three more BizTalk at Drake events this spring semester on Feb. 22, April 12 and May 3 in Parents Hall.

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