Marc Nager – CEO of Startup Weekend

[quote style=”boxed”]It’s simple. Find someone else passionate about the same problem you are trying to solve, start talking about it, then start making it happen. Something as simple as having a few drinks and putting post-it notes on a wall with all of your ideas can often be the best way to start.[/quote]

Marc Nager (pronounced Naw-ger) is the CEO and co-director of Startup Weekend. Both a Swiss and US citizen, Marc has enjoyed an amazing 26 years enjoying the outdoors, pursuing seemingly risky endeavors, and following a multitude of career paths. With a degree in International Business from Chapman University in Southern California he left his MBA program after the first semester to pursue a new career path. Scratching his own itch to learn how to launch a startup, Marc found the opportunity to acquire Startup Weekend the for profit entity in order to turn it into a non-profit and then went on a mission to scale it around the world. Passionate and curious about the world of startups, Marc has found a way to help others pursue their ideas and dreams. Startup Weekend has landed him in over 40 cities around the world where he’s listened, observed, and helped over 450 of the earliest stage startups. Among others, his pursuits have caught the interest from the likes of Entrepreneur Magazine and Forbes.

Marc considers himself a do-er, an orchestrator of passions and talents, and an instigator. He has strong faith in always investing  time, energy and resources into “doing the right thing.” As an ambitious go-getter, he is dedicated to expanding his experience and understanding of startup ecosystems around the world. His efforts focus on increasing the levels and quality of support available for passionate entrepreneurs and communities. Entrepreneurship is something that can be taught and learned, and he’s on a mission to ensure the world knows.

What are you working on right now?

Startup Weekend and The Startup Foundation, a new project focused on helping communities and their leaders be more intentional about building healthy ecosystems and leveraging the conversations across the and learnings across communities around the world.

What does your typical day look like?

When I’m not travelling, which isn’t often: Wake up…work out (2-3 days/wk), get caught up on email, eat, go to work, focus on strategy, calls from 11am-2pm, email creation and follow-up until ~4pm, then strategy with the team normally until ~ 6/7pm, go home, eat, emails…sleep. 🙂

3 trends that excite you?

  • Specialization of cities and their communities. “Startups” are getting saturated, so we are seeing a huge movement towards more focused and intentional efforts to specialize.
  • The government policy makers and big businesses are realizing the importance of investing in startups and innovation. It is fundamental to ensuring our growth as a nation and a world.
  • Ideas are worthless, its about the people. We try extremely hard to push the level of conversations across the board towards highlighting and supporting the importance of people/individuals. We can have all the programs, money, and incentives in the world to help ideas, but without the right people and teams behind the ideas, all of those programs are worthless.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s simple: Find someone else passionate about the same problem you are trying to solve, start talking about it, then start making it happen. Something as simple as having a few drinks and putting post-it notes on a wall with all of your ideas can often be the best way to start.

What inspires you?

People doing things they are passionate about.

People and companies who make decisions based on “how can I impact the greatest amount of people in the most influential way possible?” vs. “how can I make the most money with this?” The first is often the most profitable and best route to actually building a high growth business that creates real value and leads to genuine innovation.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Don’t let yourself get caught in the daily grind and stress. Starting a business is not easy and can be extremely taxing at times. I lost touch with a lot of friends and family. The more consumed you are, the more perspective you lose in terms of what you are actually trying to accomplish and what is truly important.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I really need a bank to create an accounting solution that reflects the real-time cash flow of an organization. It must be built for startups and incorporate some HR support issues. This would not only make running the business easier, but it would alleviate a HUGE, extremely costly pain point for almost every startup. Ultimately we’d see a volume increase in more intelligent and successful business launched.

What do you read every day? Why?

Read Write Web,, and my RSS feed of multiple other blogs and sources (Steve Blank, Mark Suster, etc.).

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

Making Ideas Happen is a great book I read recently. It embodies a lot of what we do with Startup Weekend and serves as a practical guide for actually getting ideas off the ground.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

iPad2 is certainly my largest distraction. I still try and convince myself it makes me more productive!

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Kristján Kristjánsson.

Does every single person on your team think that what they are doing is the most important thing they could be doing in their lives?

Startup Weekend is a bit unique and we are lucky enough to have an entire team comprised of people who are more than just passionate about what we do as an organization. Everyone has a vast amount of flexibility, but we all eat, breath, live Startup Weekend. There is no such thing as stepping in to “work” every day because we truly believe in what we are doing. Not only is it an amazing investment in all of our futures, but it is fundamentally changing the way the world thinks about entrepreneurship and startups in an extremely positive way.

How do you define yourself?

Look at the people around you.


Twitter : @marcnager

[box size=”small” border=”full”]This interview was brought to you by Rohit Jain who works in business development. You can follow Rohit via his blog and on Twitter. [/box]