Dave Zilko

Dave Zilko

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A true success story: Dave Zilko turned a small salsa business (Garden Fresh Salsa), which began in the back of a bankrupt restaurant outside of Detroit, into a national powerhouse with nearly a quarter of a billion-dollar profit. He then sold the number one selling salsa to Campbells. From humble beginnings, Zilko had the passion to take his dreams and make them into a reality bigger than he ever thought possible.

Zilko now shares his journey with audiences to inspire and educate through his humorous real-life experiences. Dave’s story is a testament you can live the life you want if you know what steps to take. In early 2016 Dave published a book via Wiley & Sons, detailing his experiences as an entrepreneur in general and his experiences with Garden Fresh in particular. The book, Irrational Persistence: Seven Secrets That Turned A Bankrupt Startup Into a $231,000,000 Business became an instant national bestseller.

Dave is an operating partner at Huron Capital, a Detroit-based private equity firm with over $1 billion under management. Dave co-founded a charity called “Justin’s Vision,” A nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children with life threatening illnesses enjoy a happy, carefree vacation experience with their families. Dave also serves on the boards of the $60 million Grow Michigan venture fund, of Jimmy Buffett’s charitable foundation, “Singing for Change,” and on the executive board of the largest food rescue organization in the country, Forgotten Harvest. Dave graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in finance and earned a Master of Business Administration in marketing from The George Washington University.

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Irrational Persistence
Seven Secrets That Turned a Bankrupt Startup Into a $231,000,000 Business

Irrational Persistence

What’s it like to take a bankrupt startup and eventually sell it to a Fortune 500 Company for almost a quarter billion dollars?

And more importantly, what lessons can be conveyed from such an experience that will help you live the life you’ve imagined for yourself?

In “Irrational Persistence,” Dave Zilko guides his audience through an actual “Only in America” story that details how he and his partner, starting with literally “less than nothing,” launched a fresh salsa company from the back of a tiny restaurant just outside, of all places, Detroit. Despite incredible odds, they eventually built the premier deli supply company in the United States that the Campbell’s Soup Company recently purchased for $231 million.

Presented in an authentic and often humorous manner, “Irrational Persistence” both inspires and informs. It delivers practical tools that can be used immediately to foster entrepreneurial thinking, create value and deliver bottom-line results. You’ll learn:

  • The importance of, and courage required, to act entrepreneurially
  • How to search, and find, the Holy Grail of Capitalism
  • The value of never compromising your standards
  • A counterintuitive approach to sales, one in which you never sell anything
  • A unique, holistic approach to strategically building your company

“We loved having Dave Zilko as our speaker for our Annual Meeting. He went above and beyond to meet our needs.”
–Keegan Ladwig, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce