University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Rugby native and Hat World founder will speak at entrepreneur forum

Entrepreneur Scott Molander took an idea and turned it into a $100 million company as founder of Hat World. Molander is now working with another venture, Simple Furniture. He is the featured speaker at the next UND Center for Innovation’s Entrepreneur Forum, starting at 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 14, in the Center for Innovation. Molander will present his “lessons learned” from starting and growing ventures, even in a worldwide recession.

Molander is a native of Crosby, N.D., and a graduate of Dickinson State University who began his career at Foot Locker. While there, this emerging entrepreneur began picking up on mall traffic trends, noticing smaller novelty items being sold quickly among young adults. It was during this time he developed the concept for Hat World, one of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Molander, who has since sold the company, and a partner grew Hat World to more than 500 stores in less than a decade.

In 2005, Molander launched the Simple Furniture Company. This furniture requires no screws, fasteners, or tools. It is ready-to-assemble furniture that fits the lifestyle of college students and generation Xers. Since this business creation, Molander has rejoined Hat World Inc., serving as director of leasing for Canada and airports of North America. He continues to lead the Simple Furniture Co., as executive chairman. Molander attracted angel investors in North Dakota for Simple Furniture.

Molander has been awarded the Indiana Entrepreneur of the Year in two separate categories. One in 1999 as Emerging Company of the Year, and one in 2002 as Retail Wholesale Company of the Year. In 2003, Hat World received the Enterprise Award from the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Molander seeks out and capitalizes on the simple things in life. His businesses sell straightforward products to customers, and he has an eye for finding unique market niches. He is a successful entrepreneur who offers great advice to those looking to pave their own path. At home, Molander enjoys spending time with his two daughters and wife in Indiana. He hopes to expand The Simple Furniture Company to retailer partnerships and standalone retail stores.

The Entrepreneur Forum is a periodic gathering of entrepreneurs and experts who share experiences, expertise, strategies and success stories. The forums are sponsored by the Center for Innovation and are free and open to the public.

-- Bruce Gjovig, director and entrepreneur coach, Center for Innovation, 777-3134,

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