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Darren Marble is a serial entrepreneur and creative who lives in Los Angeles, CA. He is the Co-founder and CEO of Issuance, a marketing platform for digital securities, the CEO of CrowdfundX, a financial marketing firm, and Co-founder of Crowd Invest Summit, producer of Crypto Invest Summit.
Darren Marble is the Executive Producer of Going Public®, a new original series that allows viewers to invest in IPOs.He is also the CEO of Issuance, the leading provider of technology and marketing solutions for Reg A+ issuers raising capital in the US and Canada. His clients have raised over $250 million to date.
Previously, he was Founder & CEO of CrowdfundX, a financial marketing firm that pioneered direct-to-investor retail marketing using the Reg A+ securities exemption. CrowdfundX marketed historic Reg A+ IPOs to NASDAQ, NYSE, and OTC Markets. The company was acquired by Issuance in 2019.
His insights have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, and the Los Angeles Business Journal, to name a few.
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Machine Generated Transcript
Scott D Clary, Darren Marble
Scott D Clary 00:05
Thanks again for joining me today I am sitting down with Darren Marble, who is the co founder of the FinTech firm crush capital and the creative force behind going public, a new streaming series that will follow five entrepreneurs as they attempt to take their companies public. On the NASDAQ. The show is currently casting for entrepreneurs, and will enable the public to invest in the companies on screen. Now, this is an innovative concept that Darren himself is a vocal proponent of some emerging funding models for business, including equity, crowdfunding, his insights featured in The Wall Street Journal. And he was
Darren Marble 00:43
sorry, I don’t know what I did there. Let me okay. It was a little loud. So I was turning it down.
Scott D Clary 00:51
I unmuted it. I
Darren Marble 00:53
think I’m done. fucking it up. Take three ready to rock.
Scott D Clary 00:59
All right, cool. I don’t think I’m good. I’m done my day. Like we can do this all night. But I don’t want to I want to miss the interview. I want to. Alright, let’s go. Alright. Thanks again for joining me today I’m sitting down with Darrin marble, co founder of the FinTech firm crash capital, and the creative force behind going public, which is a new streaming service that will allow five entrepreneurs that will follow five entrepreneurs as they attempt to take their companies public on the NASDAQ, that show is currently casting for entrepreneurs, and will enable the public to invest in the company’s on screen now is an incredible new concept and very excited to understand that there. And what that is all about. Darren himself is a vocal proponent of some emerging the funding models for business including equity crowdfunding, his insights have been featured on The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, he contributes to Inc. Deron, I’m really, really glad you’re sitting down with me, this is an exciting topic and exciting concept. And walk me through what you’re doing, how you got to where we’re at today, and your origin story?
Darren Marble 02:03
Well, let’s say it’s a great intro, Scott, I really appreciate it pleasure to be on. You know, putting this series together has really been a long time coming. The essence is just as you described, we’re essentially producing the fundraising process associated with an IPO. The difference being here that the viewers of this series can invest into the IPOs. While they’re watching the show. The series is slated to stream on entrepreneur.com In the April 2021 timeframe. Season One is 10 episodes with episodes released weekly. And the format is what’s called a serial narrative, which means the viewers are effectively following the stories of these five founders independent of the other, cutting from one to the other to the next. And then at this in the second half of the show. The founders are closing their funding rounds, and completing their IPOs to NASDAQ. We’re filming the IPO ceremony in real time at NASDAQ market site in Times Square in New York, for the companies that complete IPOs. And for the 10s of 1000s of everyday Americans who are investing into these deals, they’re now liquid. And what that means is simply they have shares in these companies that they can then sell if they want to, or hold on to them for 10 years if they think they’ve invested in the next Amazon or Google. But it actually took us about three years to get to the point of just announcing the series and finally going into a casting phase. So it’s been a lot of work to get here.
Scott D Clary 03:28
Now I appreciate that. And I you know, we always see a ton of excitement around startup incubators about startup land. There’s all these different emerging crowdfunding models, we can speak about that on its own. But I’ve never seen I’ve never seen a televised version of this. And it is such an exciting journey for an entrepreneur to go from ideation of a concept all the way through to my god going public. That’s like, you know, what most entrepreneurs can only dream of. So how did you come to want to create a TV show around this all the different components, entrepreneurship, investment, television, what’s what’s your background in?
Darren Marble 04:10
I’ve spent the past five years on the cutting edge of capital markets. I co founded a financial marketing firm called issuance, that became the market leader in marketing, Regulation A plus offerings, Regulation A plus is a securities exemption, it was part of the 2012 Jobs Act. It allows a company to raise up to $50 million annually permits that company to generally solicit or market their investment. And most interestingly, anyone over the age of 18 globally can legally invest into the deal. So I founded a company that became an expert in marketing investment opportunities to the general public through Facebook ads, other paid media tactics, PR campaigns, trying to get a company on a podcast and the Wall Street Journal, an interview with Jim Cramer on Mad Money and hundreds of other ways we’ve had the good fortune of experimenting early and often. And the the problem that we’ve really been trying to solve all these years is how do we really democratize investment opportunities? And specifically, how do we democratize the IPO. And what we realized is that to actually democratized the IPO, we needed a vehicle that would make that pretty, you know, present these investments to millions of everyday Americans, not just a one off Facebook ad buy, or PR campaign, but you know, kind of intellectual property or an asset that would consistently create mass awareness for the companies, their investments, their products and services. And so we came up with the concept of putting them into a television series, in this case, going public. And we came up with this concept about three years ago, we founded the business. And in the last 36 months, we’ve had to put a lot of infrastructure in place, a production company to produce the series and investment bank to underwrite the IPOs, a technology platform that allows viewers to very, you know, easily click to invest in own securities, and of course distribution, which was the most recent piece that we’ve achieved by signing a distribution and promotions agreement to have season one streamed on entrepreneur.com. So none of this was easy. And it’s funny, because in a lot of ways, when you say, Hey, we’re gonna do a series that allows viewers to invest in IPOs, it rolls off the tongue real nice. Sounds really good. It’s the concept. Well, idea. Yeah,
Darren Marble 06:38
it turns out actually get it out there. And to do it in a way that is functioning, and legal, and ethical, we had to bring in a multitude of service providers, which is precisely why Scott, a show like this does not exist today. The the idea itself, is simply an idea. And it required a tremendous amount of partnership and strategy, and getting a number of companies to all align and work in the same direction. To get it to a point where we’re now casting, we have distribution, we have production, the tech is ready. And we’re really excited to get this series out there. We think it’s a game changer, not just for entertainment, but for capital markets, in the US and abroad.
Scott D Clary 07:24
I completely agree as to all the pieces that are moving, it’s so much more than just a television show a reality TV show, right? Where we cast talent, you know, you’re you’re bringing on, you’re bringing on companies, you’re trying to bring on companies that are going to be successful. I’m sure there’s some nurture vetting process. And then once they’re in this, you know, incubation environment as they’re going through the show there. Maybe actually walk me through that. So what does an entrepreneur do to be on the show? What are you looking for, and what’s the sort of the storyline of the show before they before they IPO?
Darren Marble 08:00
We’re looking for startups that have emerging brands, primarily in the consumer product or retail sector. So these are companies that might be doing 2550, even $100 million in sales. Maybe they have a physical tangible product, maybe it’s a direct to consumer business, they have a strong e commerce component to the company. And maybe they have 10s of 1000s, or even hundreds of 1000s of existing customers. So when you talk about an IPO, and in this case, it’s really referred to what’s known as a small cap IPO. These are smaller companies going public at earlier points in their lifecycle than like an Uber or Lyft. For instance, it’s important that these companies have at least two years of Operational history. And they need to raise at least $15 million to meet NASDAQ’s listing requirements. So part of our vetting, and sourcing is based on the listing requirements for NASDAQ, which is the Securities Exchange, we aim to have all of these IPOs list to have their shares traded on. And so you know, companies that have products, customer bases, easy to understand, these companies today can actually apply right now on our site, which is going public comm they can click to apply, put in their information. And interestingly, the deal has to be evaluated on a number of levels. So our team, crush capital, we are kind of the first word of the top of the funnel, we’re going to look at the deal, kind of holistically. Do we like the industry? Do we like the founder or founders to like the story, the business? Do we think it’s an interesting or compelling investment opportunity? If we like to deal then it goes to our producers production company has a different set of criteria. They’re thinking about, you know, the narrative. Is there a hero story? Are these founders presentable? Are they likable? What is their energy like? And then if the producers like the deal, it goes to our investment banking partner Ross capital here in Los Angeles, and they’re looking at it from a peer Your investment standpoint, they don’t care about the production. They’re looking at it. Can we underwrite this deal? What might the valuation be pre money post money? What’s the price per share? What’s the range? And how much capital? You know, do we think this company should raise in an IPO? And what is the quality of the investment and then do does the deal pass a very rigorous due diligence process. So there’s really a number of gates that the companies go through. And we’re actively sifting through dozens of applications, looking for five great companies to take public in small cap IPOs. And I want to emphasize that we’re especially interested in diverse and minority founders. And I say that, Scott, because if you look at, you know, the the landscape today, fortune 500 companies, you know, there’s a handful, for instance of African American CEOs, it’s really unfortunate, because the founders that I know, the companies that I hear about in the news or see on Instagram, or Facebook, companies that are having a lot of success, they may be minority lead or female lead. And so we are determined to have this series be reflective of the real entrepreneurial fabric here in the United States, and therefore committed to cast in a very diverse group of founders for the inaugural season of going public.
Scott D Clary 11:20
Now, I was gonna say that’s smart and and to, to double down on that point actually spoke on this show to, to a founder of a black incubator lab, he was focused on, not just black, but he was focused on minority groups, you know, black founders, minority founders, just really underrepresented founders. And he had an incredible stat, he said, is nothing to do with this. But he said, it was something like less than 150 founders had received $1 million in funding, like minority and or black founders have received $1 million in funding in the history of the US, which like blows my mind. And that was a data point that he could back up, which is just insane. So I appreciate like, I appreciate that you’re doing that, I think that we have to start making more efforts. And this is a great, you know, this is a great platform to do that on to really highlight some of these, these success stories that are that are not obviously highlighted enough. Now, I’m curious for the entrepreneur that’s going into this, an entrepreneur goes and raises some money, and they usually want to find some investors that are going to provide some value to their business. What is the benefit to somebody that has, for example, 50 million Arr, or annual recurring revenue, 100 million annual recurring revenue to get this crowd funded investment, isn’t that just is that is that headache pre IPO or does at that point, they don’t care because they’re already going to be publicly listed.
Darren Marble 12:54
Turning customers into investors in an IPO is potentially the most strategic and savvy move any company in the United States can make. And we know this is going to be a breakthrough mechanism. When customers become investors, here’s what happens. Those customers are now emotionally invested in the deal. They’re financially invested, they’re literally invested in the outcome of the business. So what does that mean? It means their lifetime value to the business is going to increase those customers. And now investors will buy more product, buy more services, they’re less likely to use products or services from competitors, they’re more likely to tell their friends, family, social network, that they’re an investor, that they’re a customer. And so the network effect is tremendous. And not only that, but what we’ve seen over the years, Scott is that when companies turn customers into investors, and those companies end up actually going public, those investors, they tend to act like institutions. And institutions are tended, they tend to be long term. Shareholders, they’re not flippers. They’re not day traders, an institution that buys $50 million in IPO, usually long term, they hold those shares for a number of years, they believe in the vision and the founder and the business opportunity down the road, they’re looking ahead, well, customers tend to act the same way. So creating a shareholder base. Actually, in this series, it’s a mix of institutional investors, alongside everyday Americans, the customers of the company, the fans, the followers, they’re coming in together investing into the IPO at the IPO price. And the smart money, the institutional investors, by the way, they’re not getting a discount, there’s no favors. They’re all buying the same shares at the same price. And these are both different constituents. Because the average retail investor might buy $1,000 of stock, but they act like an institution because they are buying into the vision of the company. They’re satisfied customer they’ve generated value or you know received value from the product. And so that’s really valuable for the business. So from the company standpoint, What do they have to gain by having 30 or 50,000? You know, customers become investors? Well, those will be the most valuable customers in the history of the business. They are a massively powerful type of brand ambassador that can promote the brand. And they’re going to be long term shareholders as well. So we think that this is really a winning formula for founders and entrepreneurs to empower their customers return the favor. And it’s a thank you, you know, and if you think about this, it’s really interesting. companies like Uber and Lyft. You know, these companies that stay private for 10 years, 12 years, they raised billions of dollars in venture capital, from private investors and private markets. And, you know, those companies would never have multi billion dollar valuations in private markets, if it weren’t for the millions of customers who have used the app. Yet. It’s the customers who are effectively left out and are always excluded from becoming owners. And you and I, as you know, customers of Uber, for instance, the only thing we could do is buy shares of Uber after it went public. Well, by that time, Scott, it’s too late. The values already been realized by the early investors, and you and I end up looking like the suckers. Because we’re now holding shares of Uber that has stayed private, for too long, the chances of you and I getting a 5x or 10x, on our investment is slim to none. So we’re changing that paradigm by allowing customers to become owners in these businesses at much earlier stages in the company’s growth and in their lifecycle.
Scott D Clary 16:34
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I just wanted to highlight that point you mentioned about, I didn’t even think about that. But the the point that you can turn your customers into these evangelists early on by getting them to invest financially, that is one of the strongest commercial plays you can have, regardless of your share, price, just this the whole customer base, being your raving fan group and evangelizing your product. I didn’t think about that. But that’s a huge, that’s a huge plus, to getting people to getting your customers to buy into that. That’s a very, very smart point. And, and I just one more question about, about the show itself, because it’s all makes a ton of sense. And I think it’s a very exciting story that you’re gonna be telling what, when somebody watches this show? What do they see? What’s the like, what did they see the operations of a of a $50 million company? Do they see the struggles of a founder CEO, what they see the fundraising process dealing with? The lawyers or what like, what’s the actual show look like?
Darren Marble 17:34
It’s a great question. So the format is what’s called a serialized narrative. And what that means is that in episode one, we’re introducing company A and company B in the founders of these companies, spent 12 minutes talking about their backstory, almost nothing to do with the business, you know, who are they? How, why did they become founders? What inspired them to create a business? What problem are they solving? What obstacles did they have to overcome to be successful, and build the business that they’re now CEO of today. And what that’s doing is it’s really providing insight into the individual, and helping the audience understand the character of the founder, which creates a strong emotional bond. In Episode Two, the first two companies begin developing the marketing materials for their campaign, we introduced Company Number three, in episode three, the first two founders are now going out and raising capital, they’re on a roadshow with institutional investors and retail investors alike. And, you know, in the IPO process, it’s it’s the most intense time period in a company’s history as they’re going public. It’s filled with drama. It’s filled with excitement, disappointment, panic, euphoria, we’re going to capture the excitement of that process in this series. And in the second half of the season, the companies closed their IPOs in a staggered, closed, just like they were introduced the staggered start, and we’re filming the IPO ceremony at NASDAQ. And that’s the culmination for each of these businesses. We brought in an incredible production company to help highlight the drama and the excitement of these IPOs. And the IPO process. In that company is ayeni Entertainment. They’re based in Studio City. The principles are best known for CO creating and CO executive producing the hit TV series, The Biggest Loser. And so when people say to us, well, hey, the IPO process sounds a little dry. And you said, Hey, what about the lawyers? We’re gonna film the lawyers. What we say is, look, our producers have a credit in one of the most successful television franchises in history. And that’s a show about weight loss. They made weight loss exciting. So imagine what they could do with the IPO. I mean, it’s a scale and their exercise. Yeah, they found a way to make that really entertaining and everybody knows this. Biggest Loser and it’s, they have a brand and you could buy Biggest Loser branded stuff and it’s everywhere. Imagine what they can do with the IPO process. So this will be a very entertaining series. And I think we’re gonna bring out some of that drama and excitement to bring the viewers along the journey right there with the founders as they’re going public.
Scott D Clary 20:20
Very exciting. This is like my, this is my kind of TV there. And I want to I want to watch this already. You got to get this filmed. You got to get this because I seriously like this. It sounds very exciting. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never I don’t think there’s anything like this. To be honest at all.
Darren Marble 20:35
Look, I’ll tell you what there is in there Shark Tank. And that’s a show we on banking. Yeah, we all know, Shark Tank. And listen, I’m a fan of Shark Tank. I love that show. I loved it from the moment it came out. And to see the judges critiquing the deal and bickering with each other. It’s massively entertainment. There’s no denying that. And what we believe is that it’s a great show, Shark Tank always be a great show. The model is outdated, the model is old. And at some point, it will be obsolete. Because I think that people are tired of watching the rich people get richer, Mark Cuban adding another, you know, zero to his net worth. And what are the viewers able to do? Well, they can buy the product, they can help Squatty Potty go from 500,000 in sales to 50 million, but they don’t, they’re not getting the value, right? Because they’re not owners. They don’t own any shares. They don’t own any equity in the business. They’re just a customer. So who makes the money that will the sharks make the money in those deals? So that’s the parallel here is this is similar to shark tank in some ways. One of the differences is that, of course, there are no judges, there are mentors, but there’s no Mark Cuban or Kevin O’Leary bashing these entrepreneurs trying to take advantage of them put in 30 grand for half of the company, these ridiculous deals. It’s the viewers, it’s the fans that now can participate. And in companies they like they can invest. And you don’t have to put in $50,000, you put in $1,000, buy $1,000 worth of shares, and then have liquidity in that investment immediately. So that’s the difference. And in the companies themselves. We’re not featuring pre product or pre revenue companies, we’re featuring companies that have traction have millions of dollars or 10s of millions of dollars in revenue, are ready to go public to NASDAQ a different different segment of the market.
Scott D Clary 22:29
Yeah, I have a technical question before I learn a little bit more about because I want to go a little bit deeper into into your entrepreneurial journey and what you’ve sort of learned both yourself and by working with all these companies and just some insights for people that are listening that are are doing their own thing. But I want to understand a technical point. One thing that I you know, we spoke before about direct listings hype around direct listings, I don’t understand that enough to ask the question properly. So if somebody is more knowledgeable than me, and there’s a lot of them out there that are listening to this, and they’re understanding that you’re doing this for NASDAQ listings, what is a direct listing? And why is there an issue with entrepreneurs falling into this trap of wanting to do that with their company?
Darren Marble 23:14
Well, look, I don’t think it’s a trap. But it’s basically an IPO without the oh, there’s no offering. So in a direct listing, a company lifts its existing shares to the NASDAQ or to the New York Stock Exchange, but there’s no capital that’s raised. So what that means is that there’s no new shares that are being offered. It’s simply the insiders, who are the insiders? Well, that’s the venture capitalists that own 30 or 40% of the business, that’s the founders. And that’s the employees. So those three segments, those three constituents, VCs, founders, employees, listed their shares, and now there’s there’s liquidity. And, you know, look, I think direct listings, could be a good fit for some companies. It has to be a company to be very clear, that doesn’t need money. Right? Because again, there’s no offering the company doesn’t raise $1 in a direct listing. So when you look at the companies that have successfully completed direct listings, Spotify and slack, these companies had a lot of cash, they had strong balance sheets. I believe that most companies are not in the position of slack. They’re not in the position of Spotify, they need to raise capital, they need 50 million, they need 500 million, whatever that number is. That’s kind of the purpose of an IPO. As you’re going on, you’re raising new money for the business. In addition to having liquidity. One of the things I think that attracts venture capitalists to a direct listing, there’s no lock up on their shares, they can immediately sell into the market. So they like that in a traditional IPO. insiders have you know, 190 day or typically a six month lockup. You know, and then I think the big thing that that venture capitalists often complain about is that in an IPO, there’s The pop, if the stock is at $10 a share, and then immediately the shares go up and they’re trading at 18 or $20. A share, a VC might say all that, you know, that gap that $10 spread that was money left on the table should have gone to the business. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. And listen up. Here’s my standpoint, when you see a lot of venture capitalists doing a media tour, they’re on CNBC, and in public should be very skeptical. What is this venture capitalist trying to sell me or why? Why are they talking about this model who wins in that model? Who wins the venture capitalists win? That’s why they like direct listings. You know, who doesn’t win in that model, the customers, customers don’t win. Find me one venture capitalists that will tout the benefits of a direct listing for customers. And you won’t find any because there are zero. The direct listing is an insider’s game, it benefits the insiders. Those are the holders of stock. Those are the VCs, the founders and the employees, the customers again, left out of the equation. So for certain companies that don’t need cash, for some companies that have a great brand. And by the way, Spotify and slack, big brands, people know, those types of businesses could be a good fit for a direct listing. But if you don’t have that kind of brand, and if you need to raise money, and if you care about your customers, and if you feel your customers deserve an opportunity to participate in the upside of your business, direct listing is not for you, you should be doing an IPO.
Scott D Clary 26:31
Hey, it’s Scott here. I just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of our show, teachable, what is teachable? Well, let me start with this. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is for sure nothing is a guarantee. Everything was flipped on its head, including our job security. A lot of people realize that brick and mortar had to move online, had to move digital. And those jobs that we’ve had for 20 plus years weren’t so secure. So what do we do? How do you future proof? Well, you start your own thing, you build your own business, it doesn’t have to be completely replacing your nine to five, it could just be a side hustle. But you are finding ways to productize yourself, your knowledge and things that you can sell to people that can benefit them that will allow you to bring in multiple streams of revenue and income. So how do we do that? Well, teachable is the platform that allows you to productize and monetize your knowledge. It allows independent entrepreneurs and creators to build and sell fully customizable online courses and services. You are taking what you know who are building courses, you’re using teachable and you are monetizing your years of experience. There are over 100,000 instructors and creators who have transformed their knowledge into world class courses, and teachable has paid out over $500 million. To help get you started as a special offer. For everybody who’s listening to the podcast today. Visit teachable, comm backslash success and enter your email for a free seven step guide walking you through the exact steps you can take to create your own online school and start making money based on what you already know. That’s teachable.com backslash success. Enter your email for a free checklist to help get your online school started. Got it? Got it. Okay, that makes sense to me. Thanks for clearing that up. And that’s also something if you know, founders as well, they rely on the advice of venture capitalists for the first time founders or you know, even multiple serial entrepreneurs. So that’s just a note to take home. If somebody’s telling you differently. That’s I like that point a lot. Is there something that I’m not aware of with going public across capital that you wanted to you want to speak about before I go on a little bit more about your career and insights, or do we cover a lot?
Darren Marble 28:58
I think that’s it. You know, we’re actively casting for companies. We’re looking for incredible founders to showcase. We’re a few weeks out from announcing a host or a few weeks out from announcing the first company that will be in season one of going public, but we covered a lot of it. Yeah. It sounds easy. was actually not easy. It took about three years doesn’t
Scott D Clary 29:17
sound easy. You’re crazy. That’s nice. Yeah.
Darren Marble 29:19
Yeah. Which is easy. It’s like a serious people invest and like I get it, you know, but we’ve done the heavy lifting, and we’re just thrilled to be at the point we are and finally talking to companies and looking at their businesses so we can take them out and take them public.
Scott D Clary 29:36
Yeah. So I appreciate that. So let’s, first of all, I’ll link some of the stuff below in the notes for sure. And then you’re gonna have to keep me updated. So I can as I can sync this up with the with when new announcements are coming out because I want I want to I want to tune into this as well. Amazing.
Thank you. Yeah,
Scott D Clary 29:52
no, my pleasure. I’m being honest. It sounds like a very, very cool, fun show to watch. I’m excited for this. Now for people that are listening that are entrepreneurs, CXOs founders or just thinking about ever even doing something on their own your entrepreneurial journey, lessons learned with past companies, or other companies you’ve worked with. I’m curious as to what, you know, you sort of learned over your career. But,
Darren Marble 30:20
you know, it’s, it’s a great question. I started my first company, Scott 10 years ago, and literally just now, today, I’ve hit my stride 10 years later, not a year into it not even two years ago, like now we’re everything’s working 10 years after the fact, I’ve got a number of takeaways. And this is one of those things where I don’t think you learn this stuff in college, I don’t think you learn it in getting an MBA, I don’t think you learn it in a book or an ink article, you have to do it. And that’s just the reality of being an entrepreneur, you have to fail, you have to fail early and often. And you have to be massively resilient to learn from your failures, get back up, and don’t make the same mistake again. And if you do don’t make it a third time, because that, you know, that’s when you get into some real problems if you’re not learning from mistakes. So what are some takeaways, one, don’t sound a tech company without a tech co founder. So I made that mistake in my first company, to non techies wanted to build a website and a social networking site, it was a little bit of a disaster because neither of us were technical. So we said, shoot, we need a technical co founder. So we spent it, you know, six months trying to find a person, don’t do that, find the founder find the technical founder first. You know, I think, in general, the biggest single biggest mistake most founders make is probably this, they solve a problem, that isn’t really a problem, meaning there’s no market for the product or service. Or if there is it’s very niche, it’s very small. And part of the key to building a company is to solve a problem that a lot of people have. That doesn’t mean you and your friend, it means you your friend, and hundreds of millions or billions of people saw the problem that is a problem in a big market. That’s how you can build a valuable business. And I think a lot of companies solve problems that aren’t genuinely problems. And so the business doesn’t work. Another mistake founders make, they get obsessive about raising money too early in their trajectory. They think the point of a startup is to raise venture capital, that is completely false. The point of a business is to try to make more money than you spend in a month in a year in a lifetime. And again, Sounds easy, you make more than you spend really hard to do in the real world. So rather than try to raise money to start a company, the better approach is to solve a real problem that a lot of people have, and get paid for solving that problem. There’s nothing that solves or cures ills, like sales, closing a deal, sending an invoice getting paid to deliver a service, charging a customer for a product on a website, the faster you can get to revenue, the faster you will build a real business. The more you focus on raising money, raising money pitching VCs, the longer it will take you to actually get to product market fit, and have a business that generates real traction. So don’t start a tech company, without a tech co founder. don’t solve a problem in a small market. don’t solve the problem. That isn’t a real problem. And maybe for the early stage, founders, stop pitching people for money and start getting paid for solving that problem in generating revenue. Because you know what happens? When you generate revenue? The investors come to you. That’s how you know that your business is working. That’s what you want. You don’t want to be seeking investors every day, every week, you want the investors coming to you, Scott, I read about your business. I’m a customer of the product, you guys raising money, it looks like a cool product, cool company. That’s the better approach they want.
Scott D Clary 34:11
They’ll get in on that, on that on that bandwagon if it’s if it’s going in the right direction. That’s right. Yeah. That’s very smart. Now. You know, as you as you work with these, these are not these are not so much entrepreneurs, I guess the ones now that you’re taking them through to IPO on NASDAQ, they’re not early stage. But do you do you still do you still ever work with some some younger starter companies and you still learn from them? Or is it mostly now you’re focused on later stage entrepreneurs?
Darren Marble 34:44
You know, crushed capital is generally focused on those later stage founders. And again, these terms are all relative, they mean different things to different people say crushed capital is looking at companies with 25 to 100 million in sales, my marketing firm issuance, you know, which still operates and is As a market leader today, that company works often with earlier stage pre product pre revenue companies runs successful reggae plus financings to the tune of 1020, even $25 million? And the answer is yes, we absolutely learn from every deal we do. Every founder has something to offer, whether they’re, they started the company today, or they’ve been at it for 30 years. And that’s something I’ve always appreciated is, you’re always learning as a founder, and you can absolutely learn from others. In fact, those are some of the best people to learn from people that have been doing it longer than you have had more success than you. So you know, I’ve got my idols and people that I look up to in business and some icons of entrepreneurship. Even my co founder, Todd Goldberg is a mentor to me in a number of ways, I’m very lucky to say I have a business partner who’s a mentor to me, a few years older, he’s got a few more years of sales and enterprise sales experience than I do. And, you know, you learn from your founders, your partners, your clients. And it’s just, you know, trying to give that back I think is an important part of the ecosystem.
Scott D Clary 36:11
Know, very well said, I have a few more rapid fire life lesson questions, if you will, if we can, we can finish up with some of these, because that was a really, really good chat. Thank you. I appreciate that. Corey, was very, very good. Now yourself. This is just so that people can can have a pulse on on your serial entrepreneur, quite successful of your career? Where do you go to learn and stay on top of things in your role.
Darren Marble 36:38
I’m an avid reader. I read every day, and my, the content I consume is online. It’s on Twitter. It’s on different industry sites. The way I became an expert in my industry, is by consuming a massive amount of information consistently over time, and then applying that knowledge into the real world into the deals we were doing that we were signing, and delivering. So I watch a lot of podcasts. I listen to a lot of founders. I read books, but I consume a lot of just, you know, kind of short form content. That’s how I stay up to date. In my industry in particular.
Scott D Clary 37:19
Okay, good. And what is one area in the world of startups, entrepreneurship or venture capital that you’re currently investigating? That’s new, that you’re interested about?
Darren Marble 37:32
That’s a good question. What’s an area in our industry that we’re investigating? You know, look, I think, the direct listing phenomenon, it’s very technical. And I don’t think it’s a mainstream concept. But it’s, it’s often talked about by very influential and successful Silicon Valley venture capitalists. It’s a topic I’m fascinated by, I want to know why VCs think that’s a better model. I want to know why they don’t like the IPO model. What do they think of our model? Do they believe that customers deserve an opportunity to become investors? So I would say direct listings intrigued me Spax Special Purpose acquisition companies intrigued me. Any mechanism that allows a company to go public LIS shares, whether they’re raising capital or not, you know, be a public company, is something that I’m very curious about and investigating, you know, regularly. And a lot of that’s coming from from VCs in Silicon Valley. And folks like Bill Gurley, and he’s written a lot about it and talks a lot about it on Twitter, and just, you know, trying to be in the dialogue, or at least watching the dialogue. And that’s, that’s something that’s top of mind.
Scott D Clary 38:51
What is what is a lesson you would tell your younger self, that would help you get here perhaps a little bit quicker,
Darren Marble 38:59
prepared to be very patient and disappointed early? Because, you know, I came from a very successful career in enterprise sales. I was selling Oracle software for a decade to Fortune 500 companies, and I was, you know, sourcing and signing multimillion dollar software and services contracts. And that gave me an overconfidence transitioning into a founder. And I thought that, well, look, if I can sell a CFO on a $3 million Oracle contracts, surely I can go out, run a business and raise capital from a VC down the street. All of those things turned out to be very false. And the sales cycle is different. You know, when you work for the world’s largest software company, it’s actually not that hard to go in and say, hey, you know, go buy this $3 million dollar best and world software package. That’s very different than going down the street to a VC and say, Hey, I’ve never done this. I don’t have a product. I just met this guy. We’re now founders. You want to put money into our businesses? Totally. different pitch. So I would just, you know, if I were to talk to my younger self, I’d say Be patient, because it’s going to take some time to get get in the groove.
Scott D Clary 40:10
Yeah, good, good advice as well. And And last question, what does success mean to you?
Darren Marble 40:17
Success for us is changing the way that companies go public. And it is seen everyday Americans have an equal opportunity to invest into companies whose products and services they use in their everyday lives. Americans have been hit especially hard in this economy, with COVID 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of companies are now out of business permanently closed, Americans are looking for a way to get back to normal a way to recover. If going public, it can be part of the solution. And we can serve up quality investments to help Americans do that to get back to normal or even further than they were before. financially. That’s our goal. It’s really to level the playing field. And we think that the time is now shark tank model is old, going public model is the future of capital markets. And we want to have as many people as possible exposed to this series and have an opportunity to make investments in the companies. You know, they’re interested in investing in
Scott D Clary 41:30
very good and most importantly, where do people go to connect with you? Any of your socials website, all of that?
Darren Marble 41:38
Companies that want to learn more about the series can go to going public.com. They can also apply through that website to submit their business for consideration. I’m most active on LinkedIn. I’m also on Twitter at Darren marble. That’s it going public, LinkedIn and Twitter, come find me connect. And I can be a resource to anyone who’s listening to this podcast in any way it would be. It would be my honor.