Challenge management on how they will achieve their projections.
Marc Weisberg rides motorcycles, but defies being pigeonholed as a maverick. He is partial to jogging with a group, but is not one to blindly follow the pack. Rather, he combines the best of both worlds, not only in his personal life but as Managing Principal of Soho Investment Partners, based in New York City: He is at once individualistic and collaborative, at once innovative and receptive to the input of others.
Weisberg, who spent a significant amount of time in the telecom, media and technology (TMT) industries, is now focused on a more diversified investing approach which includes investments in cyber security, oil and gas, app development and distilled spirits, all through Soho Investment Partners. There, as at his previous stops, he follows three guiding principles — respect for those individuals who have helped support and educate him, passion for learning new industries which enable him to pursue a diverse investment portfolio, and an enduring appreciation for experiences gained through every interaction.
He believes strongly in the individual pursuit of knowledge, and to that end immerses himself in a topic until he has a thorough understanding. At the same time he sees great value in face-to-face interactions, believing it’s “easier to engage, and the interactions are much more sincere.” It is through such connections that he has formed partnerships over the years, usually the result of nothing more than a “gut feeling,” as he put it, of course after performing significant due diligence.
A Michigan native, Marc Weisberg graduated from Michigan State University with an accounting degree, then moved to Colorado to work for a company now known as KPMG. He went on to co-found his own firm, which specialized in tax planning and compliance, but after six years as a CPA he changed courses and went to work at Daniels & Associates, where he learned the principles of investment banking, particularly in the cable television industry, from Bill Daniels, one of the pioneers in that field.
Marc went on from there to establish his own advisory firm, enabling him to broaden his sector knowledge and client base in TMT, hone transactional skills, then move into corporate development and venture capital investing. He would in time become Executive Vice President of a major telecommunications company, consummating in excess of $50 billion in transactions.
By 2002 he was pursuing not only his own investments but also providing advisory services across multiple industries. Seven years later he extended those services to Liberty Media, a company deeply rooted in the media, communications and entertainment sectors. While there Marc Weisberg helped finalize the sale of Liberty-owned CBS television stations and consummated the acquisition of a proprietary global geolocation business for a Liberty-owned subsidiary. Weisberg also provided operational assistance and strategic planning for certain wholly owned affiliates of Liberty Media.
In 2013, Marc Weisberg relocated to New York City with his family and in time entered into a partnership to purchase Source Media, a company which owns thirteen long-established brands, including American Banker and Bond Buyer. He also served on the Source Media board of directors.
Besides running and motorcycling, Marc Weisberg enjoys spending quality time with his family and collecting contemporary art.
Where did the idea for Soho Investment Partners come from?
After practicing as a CPA for six years, I decided I wanted to build a career around the transactional side of business. I first pursued a career in investment banking, working for the “father of cable television,” Bill Daniels. Bill was a legendary investment banker and investor, and built his business around transactions in the cable television world, both as agent (investment banker) and principal (owner of cable television properties). Since then, I have been involved in both the agent side and the principal side and, most recently, have concentrated my efforts more toward the principal/ownership side. Although I still consult with and advise clients (and friends), I’m focusing more of my efforts on building a diversified portfolio of investments, especially where I can be instrumental in helping to build value within these portfolio companies.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At least four days during the week, I’ll start with some form of workout: Monday and Friday at the gym with my trainer, and Tuesday and Thursday running in Central Park with my running partners. Do you detect a theme here? Each of the workouts will be with someone, essentially holding me accountable. Over the years I learned, at least for me, that if I don’t get my workout in during the early morning hours, and if I am not accountable to someone (other than me), it is less likely I’ll work out at all that day. I’ve found that starting my day with a workout is as good for the body as it is for the mind. Once at the office, I will try to get through my emails from the night (or the remainder from the day) before, then read a number of news blogs and, like all good New Yorkers, the New York Post. I’ll spend the remainder of my day either working with my portfolio company partners, or seeking out new investments to add to my portfolio.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Oftentimes these new ideas are brought to my attention through introductions to, and discussions with, company founders (especially those seeking capital). After spending time with these founders, I’ll determine whether or not I’m comfortable with them as prospective partners. If I gain comfort with them (which oftentimes is based on a gut feeling), I will then spend time understanding their particular business plan, the sector in which they operate, the viability of their financial projections, all in consultation with business associates and friends who help me vet the opportunity. If all goes well at this point, I bring the idea to life by immersing myself in the particular investment opportunity and, if appropriate, bringing in others to co-invest with me.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Going paperless. Although in practice I still find the execution of this idea quite difficult, I love the concept of reduced clutter, and less of a need for physical storage space. Each year I’m getting better at this, and I think a lot of it has to do with better electronic organizing tools on my devices.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Creating a daily task sheet, and focusing my efforts on getting through all of the items on each day’s list. I think it’s human nature to want to check the boxes (or line through the items, if you’re still using paper) and, for me, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I get through the list. Whatever tasks I don’t complete in a given day, will end up on the next day’s list.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be in the moment.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Read the manual. In motorcycling, they simply tell you to “RTFM.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Challenge management on how they will achieve their projections.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Developing a formidable “old school” network. In other words, physically putting yourself in a position where you can have face-to-face interactions. It’s easier to engage, and the interactions are much more sincere.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I ignored my gut instinct on an investment, pertaining both to the sector and the management team. The company failed. My takeaway was to trust my gut…always.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Someone should develop an antibacterial coating for high-touch surfaces, such as hand-grabs and door latches in taxi cabs, gym equipment, and anything inside a subway car. You didn’t ask but, yes, I think I’m a germophobe.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We purchased a “toy” for our grandson called Cubeto. It teaches children how to code, but in a fun and tactile way. You can add modules to the base, to keep it fresh and interesting. Well, maybe it was a little more than $100, and I’m afraid it’s just the beginning.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
When I travel, I use an app called FlightAware. It is quite helpful giving you status of your flight (including city of origin of the flight prior to yours, and the estimated arrival time), your terminal and gate number, your updated time of departure, flight time en route, etc. I find that FlightAware is sometimes more accurate than the actual airline app, probably because it is more objective.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m going to go outside the lines on this one. For years I obsessively read business books, and biographies of successful businesspeople. About six years ago I took up motorcycle riding, and fully immersed myself into the activity. I started by taking the beginner Motorcycle Safety Foundation class, enough to get the motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license. I rode for a couple years, then participated in a weekend riding school called Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS, which just so happens to be taught at a proper racing track). The two-day class made me a much better rider. I’m getting to the book question. I read a number of motorcycling books, however, the most informative (and the one I happily buy for any of my friends who ride) is “Proficient Motorcycling,” by David Hough. David is a long-time motorcyclist and journalist, and breaks down riding and safety tips into bite-sized pieces (with great illustrations), making you want to turn the page to see what he is going to address/explain next. A must read for all riders.
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s the irritant in the oyster that makes the pearl.” It’s a lesson in perseverance, and I tell my kids this all the time. I’ve tried to find attribution for this quote, but it only turns up as anonymous.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.