If you are thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or are ready to hit the next level, you can do it. I had no pedigree when I started. No Ivy League degree or work experience. No family money or powerful network. I had drive, belief in myself, and a commitment to winning. And although I picked up some bruises along the way, it has been an amazing ride, and it’s one that I want for you.
For me, it all started in my mid-20’s. My life up to that point was all about soccer. I went to college to play soccer. I was a collegiate All-American and briefly played professionally. It was my passion, and it had always pushed me. Once I realized soccer would come to an end, I had no clue what was next. I had never really tried (or been passionate about) anything else. About that time, I had a friend who was working for a nearby startup. It seemed like the only place my “lack of experience” might be ok. Luckily, they hired me in their marketing department. Wow. There was so much energy. Every day was different. I made cold calls, carried out the garbage, wrote marketing copy and learned how to code. I loved it.
I had only been working for a few months when I realized that I wanted to build my own business. I got a $10,000 loan from a family member, bought a computer, and worked out of my one-bedroom apartment. It was the start of InTouch Interactive, our first startup, a company that developed tech strategies and custom software applications. InTouch grew organically but quickly. It was SO hard, but it ended up being the most amazing experience. In 1998, we sold InTouch Interactive to iXL, Inc. (NASDAQ: IIXL). It was amazing and rewarding to sell a company after years of hard work. It was my first eight figure exit. I was a millionaire and was still just in my 20s. The day after iXL went public, I resigned to start The InternetSoccer Network. I was now hooked on startups.
Within months of launch, internetsoccer.com was the largest producer of soccer specific content in the United States. We built it fast. 60 full-time staff. Over 400 writers around the world. Then just 14 months after inception, we sold the company for $15 million to a public media company in Europe (TeamTalk Media Group… Now part of NewsCorp). I learned so much, so fast. I now operated in what Jim Clark called “Internet Time”. I understood that when you remove limits and work harder and faster, anything is possible.
After we sold internetsoccer.com, I stayed on to serve as CEO of TeamTalk Media Group’s American operations. Then, in 2000, I also co-founded the ettain group, a technology services company; I served as Chairman of the Board before stepping in as CEO in August 2001. ettain ultimately grew to over $100m in revenues with offices around the United States. I was the largest shareholder and CEO when I sold my interest in 2003 to co-found Mountain Khakis. Mountain Khakis was an awesome business. We were quickly outselling The North Face, Patagonia, and others in the outdoor industry. Building a brand. Learning to sell to consumers. Crazy marketing ideas… What a ride. We sold Mountain Khakis for the first time in 2010 to Remington Outdoor Company and Cerberus. During that period, I also served as a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Audit Committee for Lending Tree (NASDAQ: TREE), and I helped launch a number of other ventures. Now I was both Serial and Parallel (not only building and selling companies, but doing several at the same time). *Note: This isn’t because I’m super talented or smart, I just found a formula that works (including knowing the few things that I do well, focusing on the things that matter, and surrounding myself with people a whole lot smarter than I am).
In 2011, I founded KYCK.com as a soccer focused technology platform that built tools and partnerships to help revolutionize youth soccer around the world. I moved to Barcelona. In 2013, I co-founded ISL Futbol, a global sports marketing and management company. ISL Futbol is the largest partner of FC Barcelona in the US and continues to scale rapidly. We sold KYCK to NBC Sports in May 2016.
More importantly than some of my work experiences noted above, I am a devoted husband and proud father of two amazing girls. The biggest thing that being an entrepreneur has done for me is give me true life. I have traveled the world (15+ countries over the past few years), lived abroad, met my idols, had 50 yard line season tickets to my favorite team (FC Barcelona), and never missed a Donuts with Dad or a chance to carve a pumpkin with my kids.
I hope you choose the entrepreneurial path, and if you do, I’ll do all I can to help, support, encourage, and arm you with advice and tools that made the path a great one for me and my family. Today I blog, write, offer courses and speak as it is the best way I can help as many entrepreneurs as possible. There are a few ways I can work directly with you: Work with Mac and you can learn more about my personal company, FĒNX Labs.
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