Marc Fischer is CEO and co-founder of Dogtown Media, a mobile technology studio based in Venice Beach, California, that was named by Inc. as one of the fastest-growing companies in America. He has more than a decade of experience designing, developing, and launching digital products for tech startups and Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Red Bull, Citibank, and the United Nations. Marc studied international business and finance at Richmond International University of London. His career spanned multiple industries, including corporate finance, film production, and digital marketing, before transitioning into the high-technology space. Marc is actively engaged in the community as a youth mentor with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship and a board member of Beauty Earth, a nonprofit focused on revitalizing urban areas through art initiatives.
Where did the idea for Dogtown Media come from?
Dogtown Media was conceived on a road trip with my friend and soon-to-be business partner en route to San Francisco. I knew from the day that Steve Jobs introduced the world to the App Store in 2009 that the future of tech was going to shift to mobile apps. A new novel system allowed savvy, independent mobile app developers (https://www.dogtownmedia.com/) like us to turn an idea into an iPhone app that could, in turn, be installed on millions of devices. We both saw ourselves as part of a technological revolution never before seen in history.
What does your typical day look like? How do you make it productive?
My everyday focus is to ensure I’m taking the right steps toward the big picture. My day begins with a huge cup of coffee, the elixir of startup founders.
After this, my team holds a daily scrum. We discuss high-priority tasks, assign responsibilities, and work to remove any obstacles holding up the workflow so we can get on track and be productive.
Aside from specifics like meetings, setting milestones, and executing what needs to take place in order to make progress, I spend a good portion of every day taking stock of current endeavors to ensure our clients are happy. I also try to take a step back to ensure we’re always staying true to Dogtown Media’s vision: to not only drive maximum impact and value, but also produce products with purpose.
To break up my busy schedule — and stop my mind from going into overload — I spend five to 10 minutes meditating every afternoon. Before I retire for the evening, I write down the three biggest accomplishments I achieved during the day. Gratitude is integral to shaping the future. It’s a great reminder of why I do what I do.
Vision is equally important. You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know which way you’re supposed to be going.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To be a great creator, you have to be a great observer. I pay deep attention and listen intently to what’s going on around me, in my life, in other people’s lives, in the business world, and in society. The list of considerations is endless, but so are the possibilities.
I love to think about how technology can be applied to pain points I’ve observed. What tech solution could produce the greatest amount of value in a given situation? What would it take to put a team together to design, engineer, and scale an idea into something meaningful and impactful? After working out the details in my mind, it’s time to stop thinking and start doing.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’m most excited by the convergence of new technologies, specifically how they’re interacting and creating value in the ecosystem. Disruptive technologies like the Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and mobile apps have been around for years, but advancements in computing power have accelerated the capabilities of these technologies beyond imagination.
Computing power is the great accelerator. Without improving this, we wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pace of progress.They will enable us to capture, analyze, and act on massive amounts of data faster than ever before. It’s hard to even comprehend what will be possible at this point, but that’s what makes it so fun to think about.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Constant recalibration. I regularly check in with myself to ensure everything I’m doing is aligned with my vision. This is an absolute necessity, especially when I’m feeling stretched thin or uninspired. A quick check-in with myself quickly leads to a new burst of energy and focus.
The key to successfully employing this sort of self-reflection is to set aside time to deliberately practice it. You’d be surprised how hard this is for many people.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
To truly understand whether a business idea I have has any value, I seek blunt feedback from industry experts and people I respect. The ability to talk freely and receive candid feedback is priceless. It’s some of the best guidance an entrepreneur can get.
Not only can you save immense amounts of time and money, but you also learn an incredible amount about your product-market fit and how to improve it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Your team is everything. The importance of hiring smart, capable, passionate people who are aligned with your vision cannot be understated. Your team ends up defining your organization, which dictates the results you get.
Investing in our team is the reason my company survived tough times and was able to scale. Helping each member develop as an individual is the secret to creating a collaborative organization greater than the sum of its parts.
What is one failure you’ve had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We ran out of money and were running on fumes. We literally couldn’t make payroll. Funding had dried up, and we were more than just broke — the company bank account had a negative balance. To keep the lights on, we dug deep into our savings.
We were living on borrowed time. Every day counted down toward the inevitable one when we’d have to close our doors for good. Still, we weren’t going down without a fight. Before the next round of payroll, we hustled day and night to land a new client. We landed one, closed it, got the deposit, and funded payroll the night before it went out.
This is where the story of true grit usually ends, but we kept hustling hard. We had learned from our mistakes and weren’t keen on repeating them — so we didn’t. You’d be surprised how you can turn the odds in your favor with some perseverance.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The potential applications of high-tech wearable devices are often underappreciated. The value this tech can unleash has hardly been tapped.
For example, let’s say there were a bracelet to monitor your vitals in real time and send this data to the cloud for an algorithm to analyze. Software could quickly measure your health readings against past metrics to ensure your medical trends were in line with expectations. Should the software find anything that might indicate a risk, it could report the information to your doctor to call you in for an exam early. A revolution in preventative healthcare is possible with passive remote health-monitoring technologies.
A device that elegantly accomplishes something like this would have an immeasurable impact on numerous industries and society as a whole at a minimal price point.
What is the best $100 you recently spent?
I recently gave $100 to a charitable foundation that’s teaching entrepreneurship to high school students. As an educator and former professor, youth education is a topic I wholeheartedly endorse.
I was never taught entrepreneurship or high-tech skills in school. I had to figure things out on my own, enduring years of trial, error, and failure to learn lessons that kids could learn in a classroom in a day. This early education will accelerate the abilities of the next generation of entrepreneurs to succeed at building innovative businesses.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
I cannot recommend Slack enough. It has eradicated interoffice email and has become the most effective communication channel to keep in touch with team members, whether they’re remote or in the office.
Beyond that, Amazon Web Services’ robust cloud-hosting capabilities have been a game changer. They have allowed us to free up resources while removing the need for server racks and other expensive hardware investments.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read?
Go get “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” and read it right now. It’s written by Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum. This book gives unparalleled insight into how new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation will completely change everything.
Our households, our offices, society, and the economy will be disrupted by this next wave of technology. Millions of jobs will be affected as a result, and we need to be proactive to face the oncoming challenges that the future will bring.
What advice would you give your younger self?
It’s tough to choose just one piece of advice, so here are a few pointers I would have appreciated earlier: Seek mentors wherever you can. Don’t fall in love with your idea. Keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities. Be willing to trust others so you can form a team to accelerate progress. Oh, and invest in bitcoin!
What is your favorite quote?
“If it is to be, it is up to me.” — William H. Johnson
This quote is a principle I strive to live by. It’s both exhilarating and terrifying. Ultimately, I am responsible for the actions that lead to success, failure, and life experience.
- Be proactive about the future. Go get “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” and read it right now.
- Your team is everything.
- To be a great creator, you have to be a great observer.
- Open feedback is integral to truly understanding your ideas.
- “If it is to be, it is up to me.” — William H. Johnson
Dogtown Media on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dogtownmedia
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Marc Fischer on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcifischer
Marc Fischer on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/demarcowest/?hl=en