From Selling Pencils to Creating Cloverleaf

The entrepreneurial journey of startup founder Darrin Murriner

Vidyaarthi Pugalenthi
Aug 02, 2017

Darrin Murriner, UK Alumni and Berea Kentucky Native, began his entrepreneurial success when he was told by his father that he wasn’t getting a Nintendo. Starting his track record of excellence, Darrin struck a deal with his father offering to pay for half of the gaming system himself. His father worked for a specialty advertising business and Darrin took his father’s sample pens and pencils and sold them to his middle school classmates. Darrin collected fifty dollars by the end of the week and quickly fell in love with the feeling of earning his money.

His humble and funny nature has drawn others to propose their business ideas to him ever since he was in college. Typically, he welcomes new business ideas with a sense of skepticism, looking for the potential opportunities in all the problems around him. Several years ago, Darrin’s co-founder, Ford, brought him the idea for a repository of personality assessments. Darrin at the time was working with another start-up but the idea showed a lot of potential for improvement. The potential to leverage the results from an individual’s assessments to improve teams in multiple industries eventually convinced Darrin to leave and join in the creation of Cloverleaf. Cloverleaf is Saas that collects different assessments of an individual’s skillsets and personality allows for better team building in the workplace.

Before Cloverleaf, Darrin began a project with his wife Peggy when she wanted to transition out of her corporate job. After reading Jim Collin’s book Good to Great, she started with the question “What can you do better than anybody else?” Peggy had previous worked in a child care agency and seen an opportunity to automate the tedious scheduling that she had previously done by hand. Darrin and Peggy began their first software company to solve this problem called BabySit Ease. Today they are considering the sale of the spin off company that Peggy manages.

The ability to create an opportunity with what you're good at, demonstrated by Peggy’s success with Pair Up, is one of the skills that Darrin believes creates a successful entrepreneur. Darrin explains that drive, ability to adapt, and demonstrating a value to your audience are what set great founders apart.

Darrin advises young entrepreneurs to begin with your community and find a team that has different skillsets from your own.

“It takes a team. You can’t do it on your own. I think we glorify individuals in the startup community, but generally there is a team behind it. Build a solid team.”

Darrin is currently focused on Cloverleaf and increasing value for all of its users. He wants the software to provide a better way to look at a team, put the right people in the right places and help individuals better understand their objectives.

When asked what problem he is going solve next, he laughed explaining that he’s been trying to control the natural impulse to find new opportunities so that he can stay single mindedly focussed on Cloverleaf. The idea proposals haven’t stopped though, “When you’re labeled as an entrepreneur people come to you with ideas.”

Today Darrin lives in Newport, KY with his wife, son and twin daughters. In his free time, his kids take him to the pool in exchange for taking the kids on hiking trips. “The kids are cool with hiking as long as there are things to climb on,” he jokes. He’s nervous to find out how the kids will react when he reveals his plans to take his kids on his visit to Glacier National Park in August.