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[Q&A] This Entrepreneur Founded A $50B+ Company—And Then Helped Startups Raise Money From The Crowd

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Howard Marks is one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the modern, digital age, a rare founder who’s actually innovated before said innovation truly mainstream.

And not just once, but twice.

As founder of Activision, Howard helped kick off a gaming bonanza that’s become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, birthing an entire new industry known as eSports.

Largely driven by Fortnite—a gaming franchise owned by Activision—eSports is expected to top $1.1B this year in global revenues, according to Forbes. Today, Activision is worth over $54B, trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

(In fact, had you invested $10K in Howard’s IPO, your investment today would be worth well over $700K.)

JOBS Act IPO revolution

Later on, as founder of Startengine, Howard helped kickstart the equity crowdfunding trend, opening an avenue for early-stage startups to raise money and redefine public offerings.

Back in 2012, President Obama signed off on the JOBS Act, allowing companies to go public, taking investments from non-accredited investors (essentially anyone without a net worth of $1M), without having to go through the tedious process of listing on New York Stock Exchange.

As head of Startengine, Howard’s built one of the market leaders in the equity crowdfunding space, with $43.72M in total investments in 2019 alone. 

More recently, StartEngine made a coup, joining forces with one of the most influential investors in the form of Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary, as reported by Crowdfund Insider.

Crowdfund Insider, the online authority for all things crowdfunding, recently did an exclusive Q&A with Howard, touching on the new deal with Mr. Wonderful, his business and the future of crowdfunding.

Here’s what he had to say.


Challenges of crowdfunding…

One of the biggest challenges we face as a company is that equity crowdfunding is not well understood by the general public. If you walk down the street and ask a stranger if they know what equity crowdfunding is, odds are they say they’ve never heard of it before.

Doing a deal with Mr. Wonderful…

Over the past few years, we’ve had several Shark Tank alumni raise capital on StartEngine, and we eventually got connected to Kevin. When we learned that he had been following the equity crowdfunding space for a few years and wanted to help inform others about the opportunities for raising capital using equity crowdfunding, it was an easy decision to form a partnership with him.

Mr. Wonderful’s role…

Kevin O’Leary is StartEngine’s strategic advisor and a StartEngine shareholder. His focus will be on creating more awareness about StartEngine and equity crowdfunding in general. Kevin believes in the equity crowdfunding model and our business and is helping to spread the word. He is even encouraging the companies in his own portfolio to use StartEngine for their next funding round.

Deal flow during the COVID-19…

Our entire team is operating remotely and staying safe during the pandemic, and our business itself is thriving. We’ve seen a good increase over the last 30 days in the companies applying to raise on StartEngine.

From both the company and investor side, StartEngine’s business has proven to be resilient to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

On the SEC and raising the cap for what startups can raise…

We support the changes wholeheartedly. It’s clear that $1.07M is too low a ceiling for Regulation Crowdfunding [Reg CF], given the average size of seed funding rounds today, and it’s time that we increase the limit to help small businesses achieve their goals.

In fact, we encouraged all 10,000+ of our shareholders to write letters to the SEC a month ago to encourage them to increase the limit of Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07M to $5M to help small businesses today when they desperately need access to capital.

Accredited investors vs. non-accredited investors…

Howard Marks: Our business, and the business of equity crowdfunding, is bringing investment opportunities to non-accredited investors. We do not focus on accredited investors. An expanded definition may encourage those new accredited investors to feel more confident making investments on our platform, as well as increase the amount they can invest in a given year, which would be beneficial to the investing space. However, I don’t believe this would have a large impact on equity crowdfunding.

On changes he wants to see…

Howard Marks: The change we are most excited about at StartEngine is the proposal to increase the limit of Regulation Crowdfunding from $1.07M to $5M. Of all of the proposed changes, I believe that one will have the biggest impact for small businesses and will encourage more entrepreneurs to turn to equity crowdfunding.

Entrepreneurs

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: This 26-Year Old Made $100K From Her IG In 90 Days. Here’s How She Did It 👀

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Yes, it’s a pandemic. Yes, the economy is down. Yet, some entrepreneurs have found opportunity in the “new normal” (whatever that means). 

In the public markets, FAANGs are booming: Amazon and Netflix are up dramatically, fueled by the need for home entertainment…and shopping.

One of them is Ariel Adams, a 26-year-old South Virginia-based realtor. In April, at the height of the lockdown, she had exactly 1000 followers on Instagram. 

Fast forward to today, she’s attracted over 100K followers, has made $100K in online sales (again, during the pandemic), and is now showing others how to do the same.

We sat down with Ariel to discuss how she made $100K in 90 days, what she sold, how she got her first customer, and how you can, too.

Let’s get right to it. You work in real estate but were able to make $100,000 from your IG in three months. Let’s start with the product. What did you sell?

Yes, that’s correct. I was shocked myself! My sales came from my digital products, mainly my e-book From Instagram to Instant Money. My e-book dives into how you can optimize your Instagram profile to grow a following and sell your own product. I talk to the Instagram algorithm and how to beat it to ultimately monetize the platform. My other digital product is my course How to $ave Like the Wealthy. As a realtor, I would receive a lot of questions in regards to saving up for a down payment on a home. I decided to create a video outlining the best way to save money and accumulate wealth. Both of those products got me to six figures!

How did you secure your first orders? Who were your buyers?

My sales came from my following. I would collaborate with other brands with significant followings and post my product on their page. This drew in a lot of traffic to my products and also pushed me to 100k followers on Instagram. My buyers were typically people looking to earn passive income by selling a product or service through Instagram.

Was the objective of your advertising to gain followers and sell later? Or did that just happen as a byproduct of people buying your courses?

I never was trying to gain followers, I was always trying to sell. I think people would see my ad, go to my page, and then turn into a follower because I always provide valuable content on my page. My Instagram consists of personal finance infographics, real estate tips, and inspirational quotes. I think people naturally gravitated toward that and I was able to retain and gain followers.

How do you consistently market it? Is this a model anyone can use?

I try to set up placements on these bigger Instagram pages 2-3 times a week. I aim for business pages, women-owned business pages, and black business pages. My product resonates well with entrepreneurs looking to scale their business through IG. It is absolutely a model anyone can use. I recommend following the other steps I speak to in my e-book. This will ensure the most success.

Most aren’t aware that partnerships can literally boost your business. How did you come up with the idea of collaboration and what made you target those pages exactly?

Being savvy to Instagram, I was always aware of Influencer Marketing. A lot of people think that’s just girls posting brands to their million or so followers, but it includes placements with ANY brand that has a substantial following. I knew this was a key to success. Collaboration on bigger platforms would be the most helpful for my brand. I targeted people I thought would be interested in my product; women CEOs, entrepreneurs, e-commerce enthusiasts, etc. I made sure to stay within that niche.

How did you come up with this idea?

I was inspired by other online entrepreneurs. I saw them making thousands online and I thought to myself, “Hey, I can do that.” So I decided to do it. I asked myself, “What am I skilled in? What can I teach people?” From my previous life managing artists in the music industry, I became an expert in Instagram. Combining what I studied at the University of Miami (Business) and my knowledge of Instagram, that’s what sparked my e-book on the subject.

What’s the number one advice you’d give someone who’s looking to make money for themselves but isn’t sure where to start?

My advice would be to write down what it is you’re good at. Brainstorm what skills you have. Maybe you have a passion for food? Good, create and sell a cookbook. Maybe you’re good at writing? You can become a freelance resume writer. We all have skills we can capitalize on. And if you need to learn how to market yourself, then Google is your best friend. Read, read, read. Self-educate and you will be on your way, and of course download my e-book to learn how to sell through Instagram!

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Entrepreneurs

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: This 26-Year-Old Got 1M Instagram Followers In 1 Year. Here’s How He Did It (And How You Can, Too)

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The rise of social media—the internet, really—has created more young entrepreneurs, business rockstars and self-made millionaire than ever before.

Still, one of the most coveted goals for business people is to learn how to crush it on Instagram. David Dang, a young internet entrepreneur, figured out how to do just that.

As owner and founder of @entrepreneurshipfacts, David has managed to create one of the best, fastest-growing channels on IG, pumping out daily motivational content to 1.3M followers. (At the time of this interview, he had recently cleared 1M.)

In just one year, he grew it from 100K to 1M, drawing attention from mega influencers Tony Robbins and Dean Dean Graziosi in the process. Yes, really.

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The Knowledge Broker Blueprint course that Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi created is closing on Monday and I don’t want you to miss out and regret it… ⠀ Click the link in my bio @iamdaviddang 👈to learn what KBB is all about! ⠀ They won’t be making this offer again for at least another year… ⠀ And most people (this is the sad truth) will hesitate today and many will regret that more and more over the next year as they see others succeed in the digital economy.⠀ ⠀ Don’t get caught on the outside looking in. Join the KBB course and community and create the impact and success you desire while your access is still available!⠀ ⠀ Go to the link in my bio @iamdaviddang 👈to learn all about the Knowledge Broker Blueprint

A post shared by Business| Mindset| Motivation🔥 (@entrepreneurshipfacts) on

Because we love to bring you the best of the best, we decided to ask David exactly how he managed to grow it like that, what tactics he used and how you (yes, you) can do it, too.

What’s up, Dave!

Hey, Phil.

Let’s get right to it. You’ve managed to build a channel with tremendous growth and engagement. What made you start your @entrepreneurshipfacts and how did you grow it?

What started out as an Instagram page for my own personal growth, where I share my favorite inspirational quotes on business and entrepreneurship, and life, in general, really.

I’ve always knew that a corporate 9-to-5 is not my thing. Started my first little business when I was nine, I was quite an entrepreneurial kid.

Besides unlimited income potential, I love the freedom of being my own boss… I get to work where I want, whenever I want, without anyone telling me what to do or when I can take days off.

There’s nothing like it.

To me, this kind of freedom is priceless.

What triggered it for you?

I fell in love with personal development in my teenage years, and happened to read a couple self-help books from Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, etc. They completely changed my life.

I think that’s a common thing in hustlers. You just broke down the holy grail right there.

Yes. If you read any book from the authors I’ve just mentioned, you will realize a common theme that MINDSET is everything. It is literally the foundation to success, not how much resources you have or who you know.

I truly believe the life you’ve always wanted begins with your mindset. Despite having a university degree in Entrepreneurship & Marketing, I am now making a living with my online businesses, and also dabbling in investing.

What’s your goal with your page?

Although I don’t consider myself as being successful or an expert yet to tell people how or what to think, but my goal with this page is to hopefully inspire and influence people’s mindset in a positive way. In turn, helping them achieve whatever goals they have in life.

You have over 1M followers. People are loving your content. And everyone wants to know: How?! How do you grow an account like this?

I am proud to say that I’ve never used any shady tactics or bots to grow my IG account. Everything is 100% organic growth. Besides that, you also need high quality content that people want to see.

Like any social platform, you must understand the platform algorithm and work with it. That’s my biggest secret…

In part II of this article, Dave breaks down exactly HOW he selects his content and the secret sauce behind the engagement.

 

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Business

This Guy Co-Built A $4B Company In Four Years - And He Only Works 7 Hours A Day

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Cal Henderson is pretty badass.

As co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Slack — arguably the single most crucial role in any startup — Henderson has helped build a product from zero users to four million daily in just over three years.

About a year ago (cue Shmoney Dance!), Slack announced they’d raised $200 million in its fourth round of venture capital, putting the software at a WHOPPING $3.8B valuation.

And unlike many all-time greats on #TeamNoSleep (think Leo DaVinci, Thomas Edison and Vince McMahon) — and the modern ones who call for 95-hour work weeks — this dude actually puts his Z’s atop his to-do list.

In this Inc.com piece, check out how Big Cal — at 36 — gets down on the time-management end that allows him to work less than a part-time management consultant.

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