Marlon Nichols — MaC Ventures

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Today Marlon talks about MAC Ventures and how he, Mike Palank, Adrian Fenty and Charles D. King tap into their deep networks to identify shifts in cultural trends and behaviors.

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I am excited to have Marlon Nichols with me today. Marlon is a founding managing partner at MaC Venture Capital, a seed stage fund that fairly recently announced an $110 million Fund I. Prior to MaC, Marlon was a founder of Cross Culture ventures and investment director at Intel Capital. Marlon has an eye for consumer behavior shifts and cultural trends that I’m excited to talk about today. Hi Marlon. 

Hi Minnie!

Thanks for coming on the show. 

Oh, that’s my pleasure. 

Great. Well, I  gave a little introduction, but actually I was just thinking, I didn’t really mention who’s who at MAC. I’ve had Mike Palank on the show and he was fantastic, but maybe we could start there and you could tell me about the partnership.

Yeah. Palank is amazing. So hard. It can be a hard act to follow. But yeah the general partnership is four of us. So there’s Adrian Fenty, who was the fifth mayor of Washington DC and spent close to five years at Andreessen Horowitz, helping to build out their, um, post-investment, regulatory, practice. And then Mike who you’ve had on the show. You know, Mike started his career at WME. He was an agent there, then led business development for Will Smith’s family office, had interim CEO and CFO roles at a number of startups before becoming employee number one at Macro, the media company.

And then, Charles King who was the founder and CEO at, at Macro. Um, so, and then my stuff. 

I mean, it’s an amazing lineup. Um, what are the personalities? I’m super curious. Like who’s the optimistic one. Who’s the, you know, the mystic one?

Well, I mean, I think  to work in venture, everyone has to be optimistic. 

No, no, there are a lot of pessimistic people.

no, no, no, no. Our team then, um, we, we all, you know, we’re all a glass half full. And it’s one of the things that we screen for actually, but, um, doesn’t mean we’re pie on the side, right? We’re definitely realistic. In terms of personality types I’d say, Adrian is more of a, you know, feeler, kind of a decision-maker. Mike is deep in the data. And, um, I think Charles and I are somewhere in between those two. 

And so when you, or when you as a team, are looking at these companies, you know, I said that you have a good sense of consumer behavior shifts. Are there any particular behavior shifts you’re focused on or do you have any insights on where things are going 

it was a lot, I mean, so we we’ve written about a few of them. Right. Um, some of the latest ones were the, the conscious consumer And, how consumed was, uh, showing that, they’re more and more interested and involved in political topics and, um, matters that affect the planet and things like that.

And you know, how they’re basically leveraging their wallets, um, and their, and their attention to, you know, force enterprises to, you know, to also pay attention to these, to these topics and, um, you know, make decisions that are in line with, um, with the way those consumers see it. So that’s a

And, and for, for, for those consumer behaviors, are you mining data sources? When you look at this, do you have good data on either where they’re spending their time or their money?

Yeah. Um, so the way, the, the way that we do this process, I kind of went into kind of a team’s background and, because of those backgrounds and, you know, the places that we’ve worked in, in the past and. networks that we built, um, you know, it, it’s a, it’s an interesting mix of people, um, throughout the world.

And, um, we tap into those folks, um, call them influencers or tastemakers, whatever, um, periodically just to understand what, you know, what they’re seeing in their world and what they’re excited about. And, and we try to find common links, um, you know, through, throughout, you know, these people and throughout the world.

And, um, once we, once we see something that’s, popping up over and over again, um, that tells us that there’s, there’s something interesting happening here that we should pay attention to. And then it’s a matter of, um, you know, talking with our, uh, our advertising, um, agency friends as well. Um, Hey, what, what are you all seeing?

Um, what data do you have around, you know, these types of things. Right, right. Um, we pull that data and then we just do, um, our own kind of independent, um, research on, on various various topics. Um, and we pull all that together and, um, and create a, uh, an investment thesis around it. Right. So where is the, where’s the white space?

Um, you know, what kind of company can exist in this space to, um, you know, and, and, and, and create a real opportunity. So 

have an example of like one of those, like a tastemaker conversation where that stands out in your mind, that’s influenced your thinking.

a lot, let me say, um, one of the, one of the topics that we, that we went into was, um, around, we call it the unperfect parent. Right this basically saying that there’s no, there is no such thing as a, as a perfect parent. Um, and you know, we, we talked to a number of parents and some of those parents were, um, um, entertainers, right. And famous folks and what we will, we came to them. I’m not going to get it to who we talked to specifically.

But, what we, what we came to was that every parent seems they want it to feel like they didn’t have enough time with their, with their kids. and it was because of the things that they were doing to actually be able to, um, either provide for, or, um, or, or get their, get their children, what they need.

Right. So tell, talk about infants, for instance, A lot of folks are spending, an ordinance amount, an ordinance amount, researching like nutrition. What’s what should I be feeding my baby? Right. And while they’re doing that, that’s time that they’re not actually spending with, with the baby playing with it and whatever.

Right. so that, that’s, that’s one thing, another thing was around meal preparation. Right. So actually creating the food that the, that the kid is going to eat. Right. Um, you know, um, and, and so that led to an investment in the company called, um, Yumi for instance, right. Baby food company, um, or food company.

Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s things like it’s things like that, that, that we come across that, you know, we find interesting and, you know, food is not a, uh, it’s not an amazing investment thesis. But the unperfect parent is the fact that, um, households have changed significantly, um, over the last, you know, from the sixties to now, right.

Where you, you, you, you started out with like, patriarch going off to work, matriarch, staying at home with the children and baking pies too. You know, now where either both parents are off at work or maybe there’s a one parent household or, um, you have, you know, um, same sex, um, leadership, uh, in, in the household, they et cetera.

So just a variety of, of, of ways, um, that, that it looks, but what is, what is, um, most true? um, all of those scenarios is that all experience love their children, want to spend more time with them, but also need to provide for them and also want to live full lives. So how can technology, how can you business models, support that, that want in that need? 

and when you’re talking to, uh, influencers tastemakers, do you think they’re a great audience because do you think they’re useful to your research because they just have their pulse on cultural trends in order to be in tastemaker you just you’ve tapped into something. Is that why you’re tapping into that sort of area for research

They see a lot of things. They’re constantly surrounded by people they’re traveling the world. Um, and so it’s just a perspective. That’s a little bit different than the lay person. 

do you have any, um, trends that you follow in other countries that you think are really interesting and are going to, you know, come to the U S we should be watching out for.

Yeah. I mean, one that, that we kind of invested in was, um, you know, short form content. Right. Which was,  um, basically originated in Asia, particularly like, small bites of reading content. Right. So reading like whole novels while you’re on a bus or train or whatever kind of public transportation. Um, and that was, that was one that we looked at and said, you know, this is definitely something that’s going to make sense for.

major metropolitans in the U S and um, and a year.

Right. And so, we’ve made some, um, some investments kind of in that space that the latest is a company called lit video books, which is essentially taking. Um, non-fictional, um, literature, uh, and turning them into short form video content. So think of like a Malcolm Gladwell book that you can actually consume in and out, um, with, um, you know, video support, right?

So things that will help to kind of cement or drive home the main points that, um, that he’s trying to make throughout, throughout that book. 

oh, I love that. I’m going to search for those small books. I don’t, I’m not good enough to read the long books. Um, so staying on content, um, do you have thoughts on just the implications of streaming and what’s going on in the, the media world right now?

so much. I was like, gosh, how do you, how do you, like you can keep up almost. Um, my, my, my view on it, uh, particularly if we’re, if we’re talking about, you know, streaming video, Is that, clearly there, there more and more platforms coming online. and you have, you kind of have a finite, um, uh, audience number, And, that audience has a, finite budget.  we’re not going to be able to have all of these, all of these services, right. And that’s kind of where it’s going, right? right? The content owners are becoming very siloed putting all their content on their own, on their own platform.

Right. and so at some point, the subscriber base is going to stop growing. So I believe that, um, these streaming platforms, these content, um, companies are going to have to find new monetization strategies.

and I think that. Traditional light advertising commercials don’t work on paid platforms. Like no one, you could go back in the day, like no one was paying whatever we pay to have HBO so that you can watch commercials, right? Like you pay for HBO, so you don’t watch commercial. Don’t have to deal with commercials. so I think there, they’re going to be some creative ways to, um, to, to have advertising show up, in what feels like an organic way, um, within, you know, within content, um, to basically, um, What’s the word, um, offset the, the losses around, um, or to bring down the hos of each of these subscriptions.

Right. and that’s what led to, you know, our investment in rib, which is basically doing, post-production, three-dimensional, context, relevant product placement, initially just in, uh, on streaming platforms. but now also, you know, tapping into the creator economy, so doing it for like, yes. 

 interesting. So there’s going to be more advertising innovation,  and maybe it’s not even advertising. Maybe that’s the wrong word. It’s but it’s ways of, for brands to interact.

It doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Um, we call it advertising. Um, it’s, it’s basically, uh, there going to be new ways for, uh, for grants to, to integrate in, in the things that were participating. 

well, that’s a good way of saying it without saying advertising. and, um, you know, stay on Mac a little bit more, um, in terms of, uh, you know, let’s, let’s stand back a little bit more in terms of what you’re helping companies do and what, how you’re working with your portfolio.

Yeah, so they’re like there are three things that we typically do to, um, to add value to our portfolio companies. Um, um, one, you know, tapping back into that, vast and diverse network that we built, um, across media and entertainment, sports, um, fortune 500, um, you know, the top, uh, kind of startups over the last, last 20 years.

Um, the, the major, um, advertising and global advertising agencies, um, we’re able to, and we have relationships at the, you know, the highest levels within these companies. And What we’re able to do is, you know, where it makes sense introduce, those companies to our portfolio companies so that they can start to partner together.

And, you know, we’ve seen, this play out in, you know, in, in great ways. So for instance, uh, um, given the media was, you know, um, one of, one of the portfolio companies from, from our prior time and, um, you know, we introduced, um, because Troy had had, um, my, my, uh, coconut or, uh, my last phone for Carter, um, introduced, um, Gimlet to Spotify and, you know, Spotify became, um, their largest partner and ultimate acquire, you know, um, the company, um, ripped that I mentioned product placement company.

we made an intro reduction to WPP, which is, you know, kind of global, advertising leader. Uh, and they have, exclusive partnership in place right now, or. A lot of, a lot of cash, um, that is a game changing opportunity for that company, but also adds a lot of value for their customers for WPP clients.

What does that exclusive relationship look like? I don’t interact that much with the advertising agencies.

so WPP has relationships with a lot of brands, right? They also have relationships with, um, a lot of, um, content platforms. So think television stations, for instance. Right. And so, um, the, the partnership is basically the brain had rifts sitting between those two sets of, of, of customers  So they’re out doing, WPPs out doing to sell in and rip.

It’s a technology solution. That’s, um, making what they’re selling possible. 

 it’s, it’s just a matter of, having that, the right contact, for the right company and right opportunity.

And so the. The skill set here is, is really one it’s relationship building because you have to have the relationships in place and nurture them and all that. Um, but the other is being able to determine, you know, what makes for a good introduction, right? Is there going to be a value exchanging on both sides of that, of that introduction?

That’s actually a skill, right. Um, and we all come from services, backgrounds that, required us to, to, to build that muscle. Um, and so, you know, we’re able to execute, um, or exercise it, um, you know, in this business, 

is, is there any insight you can share on that beyond just only making the introductions when you really see the value on both sides? Are there different things you’ve learned along the way?

um, listening and, you know, staying connected and making sure that you truly understand. you know, your partner’s businesses and their priorities, particularly with large companies, those priorities can shift very quickly. Right. Uh, so, part, I guess part of the skill is like, keeping your, your, your finger on the pulse, right.

Staying in touch, you know, here out, radically catching up. Um, but if throughout all of it, um, really just listening and paying attention to what. 

it’s a good skill. I’m still working on it, Marlin. okay. Okay. But I was listening enough to know that was, thing, one you know, having that network and opening that network was the first thing that you said you do for your portfolio companies. So I interrupted.

Okay. thing too is, um, Operations. Right. So, just where we’ve all come from services organizations, but we’ve also also operated And we’ve started things it’s one thing to, to give advice to a portfolio CEO, um, when you’ve never done it, you’ve never sat in the, in the seat.

Um, you never felt the level of anxiety and pressure, um, and making these decisions and is something completely different when you have right. Um, and you can, you can empathize and you can share. Um, you know, what’s actually happened when, when we did this thing or didn’t do this thing, right. Here’s something to think about.

Um, and I think our, our, our CEO’s appreciate that, that perspective, right? Because there are a lot of investors that have never, um, built or run anything in their lives. Right. And, and some of those are great investors. Right. But it’s just a different conversation. Um, when dealing with, um, with , um, that’s the second, and then the third is storyteller, right.

You know, we believe like deeply that the way that you tell your story at the onset has outsize impact on, you know, how large your company ultimately gets. And in the earlier days, how fast or how quick you can get there. Right. You’ve gotta be able to tell your story in a way that, people, um, understand it.

Right. They just, they get it. It’s dead simple. I get the value proposition. Right. I know who, um, who we’re, who we’re targeting and why we’re targeting them and, and all these things. So, um, yeah, I that’s, um, that’s one and again, coming from the services backgrounds that we, that we come from, you know, and the talent management consulting, et cetera.

Right. Um, that helps us all of those things though. All those, um, those jobs or careers are based on, uh, storytelling and, um, and understanding of value proposition and putting it out there. 

What do you see as like common mistakes? If you can, around storytelling.

too complex, focusing too much on the technology. Um, right. I’ve seen great technology companies just like struggle to tell the world, you know, why, why their technology matters, right? Like the ordinary person does not care. You know, that you have widget X, Y, and Z, right. They just care that widget, X, Y, and Z, have come together to create this thing.

That’s going to help them solve this problem. Right. So how are you helping them solve this problem? Um, that’s what you want to boil it down to, but that’s a, that’s a common mistake, right? Like, um, you know, the, the technology history books. Are laid in with, um, you know, great tech companies that didn’t win the race and better tech, but they lost the race.

Um, and the reason they lost the race because they, they didn’t tell their story as well. Didn’t resonate as, wow. 

Are there any ways that have been particularly effective for you guys in helping some of these companies tell their story better?

Yeah. We usually do a, um, an onboarding meeting with our portfolio companies, once the investment is done and it could be one hour, it could be like three or, or a full day meeting and, or really, trying to drive towards is, what is the core value that you’re trying to, to bring to the world?

And who are we trying to reach 


right now? yeah, one second.

yeah, sure. No problem.


Um, yes. Uh, siren. 

very low key here.

Yes. Uh, yeah, so I was saying that, you know, we we get in a room or a virtual room and we really drive towards who are you targeting and what value are you trying to bring to them? And then just trying to figure out ways to simplify that, that messaging and then, and then put it out there. And we also do things like, well, um, what are the right channels for you to, to get your message out there, right?

Is, you know, should this just be an organic play? Are there, um, you know, partner companies or pilot companies that we should work through and get to get your message through, um, it’s this one where, you know, we should, um, you know, hire up, hire a PR agency to help, um, you know, help push the story and, and get it out there.

And that way this is what is the, what is the best approach for this particular company? it’s target demographic or audience, and then.

um, I’m going to cut this out, but honestly we don’t do, we don’t do most of that in our onboarding and you’re just making me think that I need to revamp my onboarding. Um, so, so I’m going to move off of onboarding. I mean, maybe you did onboarding for pipe. I’m just going to move on to pipe for a second because holy crap, Merlin, I believe you invested at a 13 million seed round and they just raised it evaluation over 2 billion, like a year later, less than a year later.

Yeah, w we invested, and I was fortunate to lead that one forward for us, but we invested in September of 2019 

Well done. I’m jealous.

biggest cross. It, it holds, I think it will. And you know, it’s a, it’s a nice outcome for everyone involved. 

was there anything interesting, like when they were raising their seed, did some people not get it? Was it, you know, hard to get into any good stories then

I think it was hard to get into for a lot of folks. I think the value proposition was pretty clear. we were lucky because, we had invested in, in skirt, which was Harry and Josh’s first company. That, you know, it was ultimately acquired by fair. And, you know, through that, um, investment, I was able to like build a really good relationship, strong relationship with Harry in particular, but also Josh.

Um, and so as they were exiting fare and they, you know, stumbled upon this problem of, you know, dilution and, raising, either equity or debt to, um, to fund your growth. Um, and the kind of the rift between, um, you know, SAS providers and their customers in terms of like, um, When, um, when the, when the, the, the revenues is recognized when you receive the cash, right.

Um, they, they figured all this out while, while working at fair. And, um, and so once they, once they had, you know, the earn-out was done, it was time to think about what next we’re going to tackle this problem. And, um, we were, I think we’re probably the first meeting that they, they took for this.

Uh, and it was just so clear. Right. And I love those guys and definitely, you know, would support them in any, almost anything that they would do. And so, uh, sorry, I got to say that, but, um, but most, and, um, yeah, it was a, it was an easy decision for me. And, it was also a very easy decision for David sex, who actually wrote the initial term sheet.

We participated in that round. but he wrote the term sheet after sitting in the meeting with them for maybe 15 minutes. so it was, that kind of a clear value proposition. and it’s such an easy thing to talk about. Um, the value proposition is so easy to, um, to articulate and, and, um, and register.

And I think that that’s, what’s making, building the way that they go.

so David sacks sat in a room with them for 15 minutes. And I think I did kind of hear this and they walked out with a term sheet before the end of the meeting or something. Hmm. Oh, if only were always so easy.

so here’s a, I want, I’m going to change topics off of Mac a little bit, because you’ve had the opportunity to be at a, at a few different funds, which I think is really interesting. And I’m curious, maybe give us the basics of cross-culture, but also when you were going from cross-culture to Mac, what were things where you said, you know, I definitely want to replicate this, or, you know, I have the opportunity to do something slightly differently, uh, with Mac than what we were doing at cross-culture

Yeah. So first of all, I had the, the, the, the privilege to learn the business of venture at Intel capital. that’s, that’s where it all really started. Um, that was a five-year stint, um, in the bay area, you know, learning from some pretty incredible people, um, became a Bachman fellow during that time and continued to learn from some incredible people.

And I left Intel because I wanted to. Create a vehicle that would allow me to invest in the founders that, um, that that really ended up and the challenges that they were going after that really resonated with me. we really just wanted to test this, uh, cultural investing thesis I’m not necessarily, a strategic mandate of a, of a big corporation. And so that’s kind of how, you know, cross-culture was, was born.

Um, and you know, it was a kind of, uh, considered, uh, we thought of it like a proof of concept fund. Right. Um, we really just wanted to test this, uh, cultural investing thesis, um, um, and, you know, uh, demonstrate that we could add like, you know, real value to, um, to companies within our portfolio. And so we did that and invested in about 40, 42 or 43 companies, um, and, you know, saw some of those, um, exit.

Uh, you know, some of those agents were really good. Like again, um, those were, you know, we got our money back and, um, and redeployed it. So, uh, lots of, lots of great lessons learned there. Um, but you know, coming out of the investment period, it was the conversation between Troy and I, um, was, well, what what’s next?

Right. you know, for him it was like, okay, do you, you really want to be a full-time, uh, general partner in a venture firm that would, take you away from your passion, which is music, or do you want to, do your music thing and continue to angel invest, which you are tremendous at?

Um, And, you know, that that answer was clearly, he wanted to do the ladder. Right. And he’s best suited to do the ladder. Um, so for me, then it was, well, okay.

well, how do we, how do we continue? and that meant to, to grow the team essentially, right.

We needed, um, more full-time general partners that were capable and had come, came from different perspectives and experiences. Right. Which is basically what the, um, the general hardship at Mac looks like. Um, Very different, um, career paths into venture. Um, and, and so it was, it wasn’t about doing anything, you know, that’s the thing that was different.

Right. Um, instead of having one full-time general partner and a partner, Susie Ru was, um, the partner and the part-time general partner and Troy, well now we’ve got,  three, full-time partners and one part-time general partner in Charles. And, um, so, so now we have kind of the, um, I don’t know, you can call it a fire power, but.

We have a dedicated team to like, you know, really continue what we were doing before. So that’s the thing that’s changed. Um, only other thing that’s that’s changed is the tech size. Right. And kind of our ownership targets in cross-culture. We didn’t really have ownership targets. Right. Were I think it was small clients.

So you just, whatever check you were able to write, um, you, you wrote that with conviction and tried to be helpful. Right? Well, now, you know, we write 1.5 to $2 million checks, in the seed stage companies oftentimes leading the rounds, right. Uh, taking board seats and, um, or I should say contributing on boards as directors.

Um, and yeah, but still doing everything that we, that we were doing before in, um, in terms of, uh, helping the companies to find success.

do you have thoughts on, um, just fun to operate? Like the, maybe it’s a little wonky stuff, but do you have thoughts on the operational aspect of getting your ownership and your first check, continuing to fall on invest? 


so we like to lead the deal and that fits with the way that we’re seeing the world, right? We are in the business of identifying opportunities before the rest of the world understands that there’s an opportunity there. 

so we’ll lead and then, we aim for about 10% ownership, after our initial investment and, um, you know, the company is going to be an amazing company.

You want to hold onto as much of that for as long as possible. So we don’t promise, um, follow on capital to all the companies in our portfolio, but we do promise that if you do perform where we’ll be there, right. And if, um, and also if things are taking a little bit longer, um, than, than expected, we are not going to leave.

You hung out to drive, right. We’re, we’re there to support and, and, and get there. Now we’re not going to do, you know.

make bad decisions. Right. And, um, you know, continue to invest in companies that, um, just. Aren’t working and we don’t see a path for them to work, but if we see a, um, a path or something to, um, to, to work, but, you know, yeah.

Th these closing these pilots take a little bit longer convincing these pilot customers to, um, to convert to commercial, took a little bit long. It’s taking a little bit longer than, than expected, but the feedback from those companies are amazing. And we know that there’s a path to an amazing company here then.

Yeah. We’ll, um, we’ll bridge that around, um, you know, for you so that you can keep, keep going, because one of the things that I’ve found, um, you know, at, at cross culture was, you know, not being one of the largest investors in not having the capacity to support, um, you know, companies that are slower out of the gate, you know, we saw some companies get acquired for peanuts, basically.

Um, and then. You know, really flourished under the, under the brand that, that acquired them in some cases literally changed the business for them. And that’s just, uh, an absence of patient, um, patient and supportive capital. And so we wanna make sure that, you know, we, we are patient and supportive, um, but also rational. 

Yeah Well, I, I’m kind of working backwards in your background and getting cross-culture. I want to talk a little bit about Intel, but before I leave cross-culture I have to ask the same question. What is Troy Carter like? Is he also a glass half full 

George is an amazing human and one of my best friends. Um, one of his favorite saying is take big swings. Right. And so you’re not half glass, half full. I don’t know if you’ve taken, taking big swings. Right. Um, 

How did anything else? Just your time, you got to work with him really closely, you know, that affected you and your outlook on life.

I think what I just said is that was the main thing. Right. Um, when I, when I left, Intel, it was, uh, it was a moment for me where I was like, okay, it’s time to bet on yourself. and you’re going to play to win. and you’re gonna, you’re gonna go try to play in the big game.

Right. Um, and I think, um, I don’t know that I learned that from him. I think I came into our partnership with that mindset. but it was like, you know, it was underscored if right. This is like, yeah, this is the right way to think about it. And you know, if I continue to do this, and this is what success might look like,

right? Like you went from Intel capital to all of a sudden you’re partners with Troy Carter.

Yeah. Yeah. And you know, that was a serendipitous thing, actually. I didn’t, go into this thinking that, oh, I needed to partner with, with Troy, one of the, first investors that I talked to about cross-culture said, oh, you should meet. Sure. I think you’d love what you’re doing. and literally our first conversation was around him being an investor in the fund, which turned into why don’t we build this thing together. I did, and I didn’t even know he, who he was when they told me, um, you know, they should go at least go meet this guy.

Um, I just said, oh, you know? Okay. Um, thank you. A great investor, a good friend of yours. Um, yeah. I’ll, I’ll meet him and yeah. You know, yeah. Years later, seven, eight years later. Um, you know, we’re, we’re very close. Um, we, you know, built a terrific organization together. He’s an investor in Mac, um, as well. Um, yeah, it’s funny how these things happen.

Yeah. and you built a diversity focused fund, as I understand it at Intel.

we did. Um, so I helped Lisa, um, architect it, sell it to the company and launch it and then started investing out of it. It was $125 million. Fun And focused on, women, black, Latin, X, native American, led startups

And what do you think people in our industry broadly should be doing differently or just doing to help around these initiatives? 

around the diversity initiative. 


Yeah. Um, 

our societal initiatives.

yeah. just being good humans is the short answer, right? Like, do things in an equitable manner. 

Marlin. I think when I asked you this before you said be less racist.

 Yeah. Basically.

I mean, can you, are there, are there particular areas where you think people still are, falling short?

 I mean, it’s hard to boil it down to, to, to one, or two particular areas. I think you just got to start looking at people as people, as opposed to, you know, when, uh, a black founder walks into your door. Oh, that’s a black founder. I mean, one, a white founder walks into your door. I don’t think you’re saying, oh, that’s a white founder, right?

You’re you’re looking at, at their credentials. You’re looking at The opportunity that they’re going after and you’re making it a decision, you know, based on their skillset, their, professional experience, their lived experience, et cetera. 

Hmm. and what about you and your journey? What was, what was high school for you?

I, I went to an all boys, Catholic high school in the Bronx called Mount St.

how was it? What was your, you know, well, what was the day-to-day for you?

Um, as a two sport athlete, I played basketball. I ran track. as a good student because, um, my parents would have it no other way. Um, have Jamaican parents, I was born in Jamaica. So, you either, you?

know, do well in school and you got consequences. 

And they had both immigrated then they’d both grown up in Jamaica, 

Yeah. I, and I was born there. And so, you know, that story is we moved over. Um, my dad used to work, on trains and then he became a bus mechanic and in the us, my mom was a cosmetologist. initially she, became a nanny and housekeeper, while she got her license in the us, and then she ultimately opened her own salon and, is still running that salon today.

so that was kind of like my first, um, I guess, view or access, exposure to entrepreneurship, and how hard it is, um, how rewarding it can be fulfilling. It can be how hard it is. Yes. 

That’s a great story. one more question for you. I know you’re a serious basketball player. What, when you’re getting really competitive, what goes on in your brain? What do you tell yourself?

Ah, he said, you know, we gotta win. and nobody’s better then, then, you know, the other team is not better than us. We’re better. Um, no matter what and God one. 

wow. You tell yourself were better. Like what? That’s good. That’s good. 


so that in, you know, in our current business too, it’s like, I don’t, I don’t care who is on the other side of the table, like word better. 

I think a lot of what you tell yourself in sports carries over to the way you approach life. So, I appreciate that advice and that, that perspective, well, Marlin, thank you so much for coming on the show and, congratulations on fund one and also that amazing pipe investment.

well, thank you for that. Um, I, I am. Thanks Harry, Josh for, uh, for what you’re doing with, uh, with five, for sure. Um, Yeah. we’re, you know,   📍 we’re just taking a, a blue collar mentality to this and, you know, building brick by brick and, hopefully at the end of the day, you would have created something phenomenal and, you know, helped, uh, entrepreneurs bring their vision to the world. 

 Thanks Marlin. And that’s a great note to end on.


Real quick. It would be great. If you could spare a moment to give the podcast five stars or share with a friend Or I love getting emails. Send me a note, Thanks.

 Um, appreciate it. I I’ll make it all sound smooth or my editor will

Yeah. Sorry about the, oh my God. They came at 9:00 AM this morning and then you missed the, um, the part when the sirens started going off and went off the line 10 minutes. 

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that’s a fun little Friday afternoon or no, I guess, you know, eight hours of Friday.

But anyway, hopefully they’ll, they’ll get it together and we’ll have an alarm. 

Yeah. Um, well, it was fun. I enjoyed, I listened to a couple of your podcasts episodes. Do you, do you enjoy doing the podcasts?

I enjoy having. Deep conversation, fun conversations with interesting people. Yeah. So it could be on a podcast. It could be something else like, You know?

You guys are often a little stilted for the like fun. It’s not quite like the over beer conversation. 


Yes. Well, they’re fun for me because I studied the people a little bit. Like I get to know you a little bit better, and then I run into a party I’m like, oh, I know all about your parents, what your parents did, or like what you were doing at Intel or whatever.

yeah. No, you definitely do a lot, so Yeah,

Well hear how it comes out and hopefully you’re editing a rose can do some magic and yeah. Make us not sound too crazy with everything that was going on. 

for sure. They make me, my question sounds smooth, even though I can never spit them out. Um, well have a great three-day weekend, 

What are you gonna do? 

nothing hanging out with the kids. Go to the pool, go to the beach. Yeah,

you moved 

Yeah. that’s why the 

that’s this. I gotcha. I gotcha. Um, where are you now? Oh, nice. Cool. I’m over in my own, Pasadena by myself.