We make them happen. First getting them out of our heads, into actionable format and then we simply start doing things, one step at a time.
Driven, international entrepreneur, Markus currently serves as CEO of Crowd Valley Inc, part of the Grow VC Group. He has a background from several companies in rapidly changing industries such as capital markets, digital music and publishing, working cross the US, Europe and Asia. He is a global investor and partner at the Grow VC group, where he has been pioneering new funding models all one the world, as well as advising policy makers globally for a more effective and open market. Markus has also worked with actors in both the private and public sector, to improve the framework for new funding models and serves as a frequent public speaker on related themes.
Markus is an internationally awarded entrepreneur and part of the Sandbox Network, the foremost global community of extraordinary young achievers. Culturally diverse background from the US, Sweden, Spain and Finland, analytical being and enthusiasm to match, Markus loves working on high impact strategies, but also being hands on in ensuring progress is made. Right at home in the high pace, competitive global world, he is particularly fascinated by challenges and opportunities, that are just looking for the taker.
Markus is keen to play his part in the change of societies’ values during the years to come and making an end to an era “me”-thinking, in stead of “we”-thinking. Always making a point to expect and demand the best of people, not accepting anything less.
What are you working on right now?
We recently created Crowd Valley Inc based on our learning with the Grow VC Group and along with the management team, we’ve taken responsibility of the new company, which is part of the Grow VC Group. Crowd Valley is a turn key solution, for organizations looking to set up and operate their own funding portals or broker dealer marketplaces. The company provides a SaaS technology platform and back office services that works across various asset classes and specialized purposes in the capital markets.
Where did the idea for Crowd Valley come from?
With the rise of crowd funding and new funding models, we’ve seen a lot of applications beyond what’s often talked about in today’s situation. Being active all around the world, we’ve had the privilege of seeing what has worked and what needs improving. Therefore we started providing our technology and back office processes such as regulatory compliance, shareholder services and other securities related regulatory compliance requirements, to ensure that the infrastructure for new funding models is robust and secure – for the industry as a whole.
How do you make money?
Crowd Valley provides a SaaS technology platform, with monthly subscriptions starting from $199, depending on the model. Back office services are priced on transactions where applicable.
What does your typical day look like?
I’d like to contest that I don’t have a typical day, mainly because I’ve been back and forth all over the world this year and next year will certainly be no quieter as the JOBS Act continues its implementation. But when I’m not on the road, there are of course recurring elements. I’ll get up early on, depending on the night I’ve had before. I’ll first catch up on any urgent issues, looking to either resolve them right away before I start my day. I’ll have a quick bite with my family, before diving in. Our team catches up on several topics at the start of the week, but we empower all of our team members to be able to take responsibility over their area of responsibility from early on, meaning that we have full confidence in one another. This also helps in our communication. Over a normal week, I’ll take a few dozen calls or meetings, with partners of various kinds, new prospective hires, our stakeholders etc. I like focused time both at the start and end of my day, wherein I’ll handle important matters on both ends of the day. As any entrepreneur will recognize, the day doesn’t really end, but at some point will just bleed over to the next.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We make them happen. First getting them out of our heads, into actionable format and then we simply start doing things, one step at a time. I have utmost respect for our team and partners, where any ideas we have, we work together to refine them into valuable and actionable stepping stones.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The opportunities in the capital markets, when scalable and efficient technology meets established securities professionals, are really exciting. We’ve seen a vast amount of interest for new funding models, including crowd funding for vast applications, by established broker dealers and securities professionals, which is a privilege for us and we learn from them each day.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
For me, I think the notion of doing something redundant and expandable, is worse than any tangible thing one might perform. Having some less impactful tasks always taught me perspective, of wanting to do something that really does matter.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d be quicker and more aggressive in my own trial and error process. That being said, I’d still contend that everyone has their own paths and my path has led me here, and having learned all the things I’ve learned, I’m confident this road is the one I’d still end up on for the most personal growth.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Question each assumption. It’s so easy to assume you know the answer, and yet so hard to remember that the world is filled with complexities and grays, rather than clear lines. It’s important to uncover the underlying truths however cumbersome it may be at times, to be able to make important decisions based on a solid foundation.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Learning to let go of ideas that were just not coming together as planned, was tough and it was a tough lesson to learn early on in my career. However, it taught me how to separate between something “uncomfortable” decisions and “hard” decisions. Many times your emotions get in the way of sensible decisions, that may be inherently uncomfortable, but at the end of the day are not hard decisions. This would later on apply to recruiting and building company culture, where it’s easy to confuse uncomfortable and hard decisions when dealing with people you learn to respect.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We believe crowd funding and online funding models will ultimately be local and built on the inherent trust that runs through local communities. Think about your area of expertise, your niche or your region – could you apply crowd funding and online funding models to them? We believe there will be a lot of specialized marketplaces, wherein local knowledge and expertise will be fundamentally important. There are pioneers in various verticals already, will you be one of them?
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
One change we’re already seeing, but would like to speed up, is the amount of transparency introduced to various systems. The capital markets is definitely part of this shift, however, there is a lot of value by introducing transparency and more data to various systems, all the way from grassroots levels to macro decision making.
Tell us a secret.
There’s no magic. None what so ever. But that’s a good thing. Because ultimately it means that there’s no excuses to why you couldn’t achieve your goals and that there’s no secret tricks that someone else has on you. It’s all on you to make it happen.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Skype is fantastic, particularly for communicating with our extended team and partners all over the world.
LinkedIn is brilliant for recruiting, because what people share about themselves publicly, reveals a lot about their nature.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Flying a lot, I devour books at a good pace. Out of some recent picks, I’d recommend to read the story behind IBM, Father, Son & Co. by Thomas J. Watson. It’s a fascinating recount of the lengths that Thomas Watson went through to establish IBM, but also the mentality and aspirations that follow his and ultimately his sons devotion to the company. To me entrepreneurship is about commitment and perseverance, two central elements in this personal narrative.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why? (please don’t include yourself)
Congressman Patrick McHenry has been the author of the JOBS Act and a vocal supporter of crowd funding. He brings great insight from a privileged point of view on the economy and regulation
Jouko Ahvenainen: Chairman of the Grow VC Group. For insights on crowd funding and new funding models, Jouko participates in the worlds most respected events such as the Transatlantic Economic Council, by invitation of the Trade Administration and the European Commission, with unrivaled expertise worldwide.
Brad Feld, who’s not only the powerhouse behind the Foundry Group, but also a vast proponent of local ecosystems taking responsibility of their own economies
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I’ve got two small boys, who amuse me on a daily basis. Just recently my older son insisted that I bring him a present (preferably an airplane) from my ‘travels’, despite only being out for two hours.
Who is your hero, and why?
My father. Maybe I never grew out of my childish state (laughs). My father is an engineer, by no means an entrepreneur, but he’s always been supportive of trying to reach for something larger than oneself. He’s always had an impeccable backbone to everything he’s done in life, both personal and professional, and that level of integrity is something I strive for every day.
Thoughts on becoming an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is really brutal and whenever someone asks me for advice on why they should become an entrepreneur, I always tell them they shouldn’t. I’ve stumbled onto being an entrepreneur and I believe anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur, even if they don’t know what it means, will eventually end up there. But if given a choice, the only reason to become an entrepreneur that makes sense to me, is if you can’t not be an entrepreneur.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, what would you be?
I don’t think I could be anything else, but the idea of being able to research something particularly complex and intricate has always appealed to me. I think it’s anyway a case of extremes, where the idea of being alone with your thoughts appeals to me because of the hectic pace of an entrepreneurs journey.