Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani

29: Lessons from building a platform to connect entrepreneurs - Michael Marra

October 27, 2020 Sam Kamani, Michael Marra
Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani
29: Lessons from building a platform to connect entrepreneurs - Michael Marra
Want Money Got Money with Sam Kamani
29: Lessons from building a platform to connect entrepreneurs - Michael Marra
Oct 27, 2020
Sam Kamani, Michael Marra

In this episode I interview Michael Marra, who is the CEO & Co-founder of Entre. 

Entre is a platform for entrepreneurs to easily connect, learn, and build. The Entre community consists of over 11,000+ entrepreneurs from all over the world and it is growing every single day

I try to find out for you how Michael managed to build a thriving community. Because I believe that a community is more important than MVP.

Michael also talks about building a sustainable business for the long term.

Some things that we discuss on the podcast.

  • A non technical founders perspective
  • How to get initial users for your app/startup
  • When to raise capital
  • Advice on funding for entrepreneurs

Connect with Michael:-




If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe, I will be interviewing other successful founders and investors to provide you a shortcut to success.

Follow instagram:- https://www.instagram.com/wantmoneygotmoney/

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I interview Michael Marra, who is the CEO & Co-founder of Entre. 

Entre is a platform for entrepreneurs to easily connect, learn, and build. The Entre community consists of over 11,000+ entrepreneurs from all over the world and it is growing every single day

I try to find out for you how Michael managed to build a thriving community. Because I believe that a community is more important than MVP.

Michael also talks about building a sustainable business for the long term.

Some things that we discuss on the podcast.

  • A non technical founders perspective
  • How to get initial users for your app/startup
  • When to raise capital
  • Advice on funding for entrepreneurs

Connect with Michael:-




If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe, I will be interviewing other successful founders and investors to provide you a shortcut to success.

Follow instagram:- https://www.instagram.com/wantmoneygotmoney/

Michael Marra: [00:00:00] The first thing that I did after I learned all this stuff, like I, I put together like a guide, like start a business in one day, right?

[00:00:08] Like when I realized that you can legitimately start a business in one day, blew my mind. Yeah. And I was like, wow, you can do everything that you need to, to legitimately start a business in one day. And why does no one know that this exists, right? And it's a number of different types of businesses too, that you could do that.

[00:00:31] So that's something that I wish, you know, more people would know about. And that's something that we're trying to do , Hey, like get into this stuff. If you're interested in, try it out, because that's the only way you're going to learn if you like it, or don't like, it. 

[00:00:45]Sam Kamani: [00:00:45] Hello, dreamers and action takers. Welcome to another episode of the one money got money podcast. I'm your host, Sam Kamani. And my guest for this episode is Michael Marra. Now Michael is a non-technical founder. He has recently launched his app called. Entre or it is join entre.com, even though it is a very new app, he has managed to get over 12,000 users to just adjusted.

[00:01:13] So in this episode, I want to dig in a bit more into how has the non-technical founder. He built this app and managed to get thousands and thousands of users so fast because for a lot of apps and a lot of startups getting and acquiring users. Is quite challenging. So  listen to this episode of the one money got money podcast.

[00:01:36] so Michael, welcome to the show. It's great to have you here. I've been waiting to talk with you and learn more about what you're working on these days, especially because it is so close to entrepreneurship, tech, startups, founders, um, funding, and all those things. So for our audience, can you tell us a bit about what you're working on these days?

[00:01:59] Michael Marra: [00:01:59] Yeah, for sure. Thanks. Thanks for having me on Sam. This is awesome. And, uh, yeah, so my, my company's called entre. Uh I'm I'm the founder CEO. We, we started building out this community for entrepreneurs. Uh, Actually a few years ago and it was originally called millennial entrepreneur group and it's transformed Jose over the years to different name and everything.

[00:02:27] And, uh, we started it really just through events, um, and, and just bringing like minded people together. And that was one of the biggest struggles for me when I was starting out. I used to be a civil engineer left. My job, tried to get into all of this entrepreneurship stuff. I had no idea what I was doing.

[00:02:44] Didn't know anyone, no one in my, the family was an entrepreneur and none of my friends were, so I was just kind of like left out there on the internet, trying to figure out how the heck to start a business and get into startups and real estate and all this stuff. And, and I just wanted to meet other like minded people and other entrepreneurs.

[00:03:00] And. Discuss ideas and ask questions and find mentors and all that. And, uh, you know, I started kind of building this group and then it just. Evolved and started doing events. And then when I really looked at the numbers and how many entrepreneurs there are now, not necessarily just startups and not necessarily just freelancers, but like every, the whole ecosystem together.

[00:03:21] There's so many hundreds of millions of entrepreneurs out there. And, you know, it's taken on a lot of different definitions over the last few years, but it's becoming more and more popular. And at the end of the day, what we're doing is building the platform for the future of work. And we believe things are shifting much more towards self-employment rather than the nine to five corporate professional lifestyle.

[00:03:45] Sam Kamani: [00:03:45] Yeah. Very, very true. So what does your platform do currently? How, how does it all work? 

[00:03:52] Michael Marra: [00:03:52] Totally. Yeah. So, uh, it, it's a free mobile and web app, right. Users can go on, they can create a profile, very similar to other social networks and other platforms that they, you know, they've probably signed up for in the past.

[00:04:05] Um, what what's unique is the fact that it's, it's an ecosystem and a environment that's geared for. These specific types of people, right. Um, and a safe place for entrepreneurs to do discuss really just business. Right. This isn't, you know, we're already know we've already kicked users out for, you know, posting spam or, you know, talking about politics or other things like that.

[00:04:32] That's not what this is for. Right. If you want to do that stuff, go to Twitter or Facebook or whatever else. Right. So it.  the atmosphere, number one, then allowing people to, just to do all the things. Yeah. They need to. So ask questions, get support, have conversations with people, search and find who they're looking for with very simple filters, reach out to them, uh, be able to post jobs like co-founder positions, all of that for free post events for free of this stuff, expanding network.

[00:05:00] Um, and then there's a ton of other stuff that we want to add too. But, um, you know, and then we'd do a bunch of virtual events, uh, as well on top of that. So I help educate people bringing in, you know, really cool founders and VCs and angel investors. And then we also have this whole like deal section where, you know, we have 40, Oh, I think we have over 50 partners now.

[00:05:21] Like Brex G suite top tout Zendesk, fresh works. All these companies offer deals on software and services from law firms to accounting firms, all sorts of stuff, just to help people get started easier and faster. So, you know, those are just some of the things we're obviously going to be continuing to add more, more features and stuff as we expand.

[00:05:44] Yep. 

[00:05:45] Sam Kamani: [00:05:45] Makes sense. Um, how did you get started in your entrepreneurship journey? 

[00:05:52] Michael Marra: [00:05:52] Yeah, it was, it was one of those things where I was at my, uh, civil, I graduated college. I never, I was always interested in business, but never really like. Was an entrepreneur. And then I was just working at my engineering job.

[00:06:08] It was one of those things that after a few months I was like, you know, just going through the motions. And I had no creativity, innovation, you know, I felt like I was just hitting this plateau and I wasn't living up to my full potential. And that was a pretty eyeopening moment. And that's when it just got me thinking about what else can I do?

[00:06:30] What are my, what. What else am I interested in? And that led me into stocks and investing, and then eventually real estate. And that led me down to, uh, you know, I ended up leaving my job and ended up going down to Miami, started a real estate company and a marketing agency. And then, Oh, you know, all of these things happen, um, over the last.

[00:06:52] You know, five years and it's just been a lot of trial and error, a lot of just experimenting and figuring out what I liked doing, like how I wanted to spend my time and you know, what I really wanted to do and how to make an impact and all of that stuff. So it, you know, there's a ton of ups and downs along the way.

[00:07:16] And, you know, it was, it wasn't a straight line for sure. You know, I thought I wanted to do real estate. And then I was like, that's not a really good fit. And, you know, so it kind of just led me down this thing. And at the end, they came down to a problem that I really wanted to solve. That really was something that.

[00:07:35] Was important to me and that I saw it being very important to other people. And then as I started connecting people and helping other entrepreneurs, I was like, this is amazing. And people need this and they want this. And, you know, we can really make a lot of impact here and add a lot of value and help a lot of people.

[00:07:54] So that's, you know, the, you know, that, that was how everything kind of came. Came to fault. 

[00:08:02] Sam Kamani: [00:08:02] Yep. 

[00:08:02] how long has  entre, been live? 

[00:08:06] Michael Marra: [00:08:06] So we, we transitioned, uh, rebranded everything set on Trump as a separate entity, uh, at the beginning of 2019. And, um, although we've been kind of doing the same thing for like basically the last three years, uh, so.

[00:08:23] We we've been doting the technology in the background as we scaled the events. So we were doing seven to 10 events across 12 different cities. All of which now are obviously virtual since, since COVID-19 and whatnot. Um, but we're already going, you know, in the digital direction anyway, with our app and everything.

[00:08:41] So. You know, th the timing has been good for that. And we started onboarding users really back in July and August when we started growing, like our beta users and everything. And then we were publicly, you know, really just launched in the last a week.  we just pretty much, um, Yeah, doubled our numbers and, you know, we're, we're well over, we're almost over 6,000 users now, so we're, we're growing very fast right now.

[00:09:10] And, you know, we're, we're really looking to continue expanding and scaling this. That's 

[00:09:16] Sam Kamani: [00:09:16] great. And did you guys raise any funding for this or is it all bootstrapped? 

[00:09:22] Michael Marra: [00:09:22] Yeah, so we, we raised some angel, uh, funding last year up. Today, we've raised a little over 185 K. Um, and we're actually going to be announcing our partnership with we funder here, um, shortly like this week.

[00:09:41] And, uh, we're going to be doing an equity crowdfunding campaign with them as well. So a lot, a lot of things, uh, coming to fruition, but we thought of it as a super win-win for us. Um, you know, Equity crowdfunding and crowdfunding and stuff like it doesn't make a lot of sense for, I would say even the majority of businesses, but B to C consumer businesses, especially in our industry, being that the majority of people that are on we funder are similar audience.

[00:10:11] It made a ton of sense to do it. So, um, and we're super glad to have them as one of our partners. And you know, people in our network can also get a discount on their campaigns as well. So it's worked out incredibly well. Yeah, 

[00:10:23] Sam Kamani: [00:10:23] I'm just checking out Wefunder. So is it a bit like Kickstarter, but 

[00:10:28] Michael Marra: [00:10:28] for, yeah, it's, it's basically, instead of, so there there's Kickstarter Indiegogo and some of these platforms that basically you kind of like prepay for the product, right?

[00:10:40] And, and you, you, in a sense, put up money, donate, invest, whatever, and then they ship you product and you know, other things with. Platforms like we funder start engine Republic, seed invest. These are equity crowdfunding platforms. So instead of just buying the product, you actually own equity in the company, which if you look at all that the wealthiest people in the world, the reason they're wealthy is because they own equity in something.

[00:11:11] Equity is everything. So yeah. That's what's really cool about these platforms and it's changing the game for early stage investing and it's making it so that you don't have to be an accredited investor to invest in early stage startups, which is super fascinating. So people can invest as little as, you know, a hundred bucks and they can own a piece of a tech company.

[00:11:33] Right. And so there's definitely pros and cons of it, but it it's, you know, I. I think it's going to work out incredibly well for us. And it's going to allow us to do this rather than, you know, kind of doing another, uh, pre-seed or seed round. Um, and we'll get way more exposure and way more users, 

[00:11:53] Sam Kamani: [00:11:53] because I know so many founders who do crowdfunding, not only just for funding, but they do it for customer acquisition promotion.

[00:12:03] Yeah. All that stuff of 

[00:12:05] Michael Marra: [00:12:05] it. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, totally. It 

[00:12:08] Sam Kamani: [00:12:08] makes so much sense. Um, can you walk me through your journey of this acquiring 6,000 users? Because for a lot of tech startup founders, when they're starting out getting the early users, it is so crucial and so hard, just like, you know, your first shark is going to be the hardest your first users, users is going to be the hardest.

[00:12:30] How did you acquire those four, 6,000 users? 

[00:12:33] Michael Marra: [00:12:33] Yeah, no, no one wants to jump into an empty room, right? Yeah. So 100%, you know, what, how we did it was we built out. I mean, I've been building this for the last three years, really through our social media, through our email lists, through our events. So we've had.

[00:12:51] Over 20,000 people attend our events. We have this huge email list of people and the people who know us and recognize our brand and all this stuff. It is difficult to convert people, you know, who. From an email list to actually downloading an app or actually signing up for something in doing so there, there is a barrier there, right?

[00:13:12] Yeah. Um, at the same time, if you're trying to just launch something and you have no email list, no social media following nothing. You're going to have a way harder time getting any traction than if you did. You know, if you, if you had that, right. Cause you're going to have to spend money doing paid ads instead of just sending emails, which is going to cost you a lot less.

[00:13:37] So I think 100%, if people are building an app, anything, and they're trying to get users start doting, you're following as you're building the product, right? Yeah. We did events because we. We knew we could, cause we're not an event company, although that's what people knew us as for the last few years.

[00:13:58] Right. But we were never an event company. We use that to grow our grower network, make money, build out our partnerships and sponsorships as we were building the technology. So now it's like, we already have all of this done and we already have the network and now things are really ready to scale. So. Um, you know, we, we, you know, I think it's an interesting approach when you, you can figure out a way to, to build the network before you launch something or at least build somewhat of a following.

[00:14:32] That's why a lot of companies are doing wait-lists and stuff now, but it's difficult to even build that up sometimes. They are. So there's a ton of different strategies. Um, you know, I, I, 100% recommend people, at least some sort of following beforehand, um, or do something. I think events are a great way. I think a podcast is a phenomenal way.

[00:14:55] I think jumping in and just launching small products on like product hunt, getting in and out. Working in Slack groups or Facebook groups or on entre or other platforms and building some type of following up and putting out some type of content on Instagram or tick talk or whatever, and then being able to be like, you know, roll out the real thing later on.

[00:15:18] Yeah. 

[00:15:19] Sam Kamani: [00:15:19] Um, you know, in the last two weeks I have come across three platforms like, um, on travel. One is, um, this is  and then the other one is startup fuel and then entre. And then I know a lot of founders, they are all super active on LinkedIn. Um, You know, um, what is Aandra's secret source or unique selling point or whatever you call it, that in your view is going to make Anjem, um, stand out and I'm sure there's like then other platforms out there.

[00:15:52] Michael Marra: [00:15:52] Yeah, 100%. I mean, look, there's there. There's definitely a ton of. Startup and  communities, Slack channels, Facebook groups, all of that 100%. The problem is they're all private, local or paid. Right. And they're not scalable, right. Because they're on a third party platform. So those things, and then a lot of them are only web based as well.

[00:16:27] So, um, cause some people have apps, but they're only on the web so that no one really has a. Mo good mobile app for entrepreneurs. Um, and, and when we look at this, you know, we're, we're pulling a lot of similar features and functionality from existing platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram pick talk, and we're figuring out why are these successful on these platforms?

[00:16:55] How can we make it better? And how can we make it more geared towards entrepreneurship than, than some of these other people? Um, so. You know, first and foremost, it's how can we bring down? Um, how can we provide. More value to entrepreneurs than any other company in the world. Right. That that's, that's the whole thing.

[00:17:17] Cause if we do that, we, we win. And right now it's very fragmented. So if I'm an entrepreneur, I'm. All over, like I'm using all of these platforms and I know almost every other entrepreneur is as well. They're on LinkedIn. They're on Twitter. They're on Instagram. They're on take doc. They're on Fiverr Upwork.

[00:17:37] Angel is product hunt. You know, they're in Slack groups. They're, they're all over the place, but none of them are actually designed for. Entrepreneurs, right? None of them are a social network that's built for entrepreneurs. So that's, you know, the thing. Right. And, you know, LinkedIn, they 

[00:17:59] Sam Kamani: [00:17:59] have such 

[00:18:01] Michael Marra: [00:18:01] a, they have such an immense, um, lead and like, but they, they they're just so big.

[00:18:08] They've built up such a reputation. People have their whole. Resumes and experiences and everything on there. When you Google people, their LinkedIn profile shows up. It's one of the first things people send when they meet people at a networking event and all of that. So we need to figure out all the ways online networking is happening and.

[00:18:32] And trying to build an end to end solution for this. Right. And, and I, I, I, we did some, we actually put together kind of this like online networking flow diagram. Yeah. Which is like, how does online networking happen? Well, right now you either you meet people on. You know, these, the social platforms then you exchange or yeah.

[00:18:56] You meet them or you find an event on event bright or something like that. Then you go to, uh, uh, uh, thing and you meet them on zoom or, or, uh, like Hangouts or whatever, then you have to follow up with them on email and all of these other things. So what if there was just one platform that allowed you to find the people message, the people connect with them?

[00:19:23] You know, communicate with them and follow up with an end and the end, right? You didn't need to use three or four other platforms to do that. And, and these are the types of things that we're thinking through and going to be, these are the features that we're going to be adding within our platform. So, well, you can start eliminating some of these other platforms from the process.

[00:19:44] There's no reason for you to go on eight different platforms every day when you're using each one of them for very little specific thing. 

[00:19:52] Sam Kamani: [00:19:52] Yup. That makes, that makes sense. Um, I have like few other questions. Like how do you plan to monetize it 

[00:20:04] Michael Marra: [00:20:04] for sure. It's going to be very similar to where it's actually going to be.

[00:20:10] I mean similar to most social platforms, right. With, you know, ads and sponsorships. Right. But it's actually going to be more similar to LinkedIn. Right. And we're we want to go more of the subscription route. Right. So. We have entre, which is the free platform. It gives you everything that you need. Then we have entrepre, which is, you know, 1299 a month or one 90, 19 a year for affordable for almost anybody.

[00:20:34] What, what 

[00:20:35] Sam Kamani: [00:20:35] do you get extra in that in  

[00:20:37] Michael Marra: [00:20:37] two free tickets to all of our events that gets you access to all the deals and discounts with our partners. And then that's going to get you, uh, access to the investor office hours. So like every month you can jump on a video call with an angel investor, VC that we set up and ask them questions and going through stuff, we're putting together like an investor database as well.

[00:21:02] And then you're going to get other in-app features. So you'll be able to like, Boost more jobs, you'll be able to send more or, you know, uh, things and, uh, attend more or events and all sorts of different stuff that, yeah, we're going to be adding, um, as we grow, we're going to be packing so many things into entrepreneur to make it a no brainer.

[00:21:21] Right. For any entrepreneur to, you know, to be part of it. But, you know, there's, there's a number of different things that we want to do, especially as we get more into software and stuff, um, that we're going to be grouping into this. So it's only going to continue to evolve. Uh, but we want it to be like Amazon prime for entrepreneurs who want it to be, you know, a no brainer, right.

[00:21:44] Just like. You know, so much value that people don't care and as everything that you need as an entrepreneur. 

[00:21:51] Sam Kamani: [00:21:51] Yeah. Makes sense.  you know what, while we have been,  docking, I have just made an account,  on entre and I just made my false post. So I had to tell you it really, really easy to use. Um, I did tag you as well.

[00:22:09] Michael Marra: [00:22:09] I just got the notification. 

[00:22:12] Sam Kamani: [00:22:12] No, it works. It works so, so well done well done for, for building and making something that, that is easy to use. Um, how long did it take you to build this and how did they do it? They did you outsource, do you have your own team? How many employees? You have? 

[00:22:28] Michael Marra: [00:22:28] Lots of questions.

[00:22:29] Great question. Yeah. Great question. So we. We really started the development on this, um, August issue last year. So it's been really a little over a year in like development. Right. Um, so. You know, we, we were doing a lot of like UX UI stuff, you know, front end stuff, you know, before then. So, you know, now I've been working on the app concept for pretty much two years now.

[00:22:57] Right. Designs, figuring out what platforms cause originally there's a lot of community based platforms. Right. And, and like we talked about earlier, a lot of these startup communities and people, they have, you know, their, their platform, they have their. You know, group or whatever on mighty networks or circle or tribe or some of these other membership platforms.

[00:23:18] Um, what I realized was that that can only, you can only scale that so much, right? So to really become a billion dollar plus company, you need to own your own tech and you need to build it out yourself. And, um, so that was the first thing. The second thing was. Instead of just launching a web app or mobile app and whatnot.

[00:23:39] We wanted to launch everything at the same time. Right? So we have a full iOS, Android in web app. Cross-platform, you know, everything, you know, working simultaneously and that's pretty difficult to do, um, You know what I mean in itself? So it took us a little over a year. We've probably boy, you know, with, you know, our, our team and stuff.

[00:24:02] We we've did. We've done a combination of outsourcing it. Right. I've had like our, you know, part, my partners and people like managing the process. But I think, you know, there's not a chance that we would have been able to do what we've done if we would've. Used U S developers. It's just impossible to do that, unless you, unless you raise millions and millions of dollars, which is what, all of the money that is being he's in the Valley and these big places get spent on like, it's actually ridiculous.

[00:24:30] And I have no idea why they continue to do it because it makes no sense. Um, so we we've been very strategic about, you know, all of that we've been able to have, you know, we have a, uh, A pretty strong development team now. Um, you know, I mean, that is no, not really us like, uh, you know, Mexico, South America, India is tricky just because time zone, different communication, language barrier.

[00:24:55] Um, you know what I mean? So it. It's worked out really well, um, with what we have now, it's been very iterative working with a ton of different developers, freelancers, all sorts of stuff. So, um, it's been a heck of a process and I think there's, there's a ton of value in, you know, outsourcing. There was a ton of value in having freelancers.

[00:25:15] It might take some time to find the right ones. Um, you know what I mean? Um, you can also hire it agency, stuff like that. You know, one of my partners has his own agency, so we use that for a little bit, which is great. And. You know, that that helps with the trust factor as well. And, you know, having someone who understands the code base, because as a non technical founder, I had to learn and understand how everything works.

[00:25:40] Right. I don't write code, but I understand. How everything works together. And yeah, if you don't do that in your building, the tech company, you're nontechnical, you can get taken advantage of really quickly because you can just be like, Hey, build this and they'll build it, but it's going to be a mess of code.

[00:26:00] So it's very, you have to pay attention to how it's being put together, right. That it's clean code, that it's scalable code. Right. Backend scalable. Um, you know, and that new developers can come on and be able to jump right into the mix as well. Yeah. 

[00:26:18] Sam Kamani: [00:26:18] Makes sense. Very, very good advice. 

[00:26:21] Michael Marra: [00:26:21] And I don't know if that was everything that you've asked, but 

[00:26:24] Sam Kamani: [00:26:24] that's good.

[00:26:25] That's good. I'm good. I've got another question. And that is like, what has been the most challenging part of building untrue? 

[00:26:33] Michael Marra: [00:26:33] Yeah. It's Oh man. How much time do we have? I mean, look at it with any business, right? It's. It's funny because it's just the, it's just being consistent and being patient as entrepreneurs.

[00:26:50] You want things to happen so fast and you're so motivated in you're so determined and you're like so passionate and you're like putting all this work in and you're excited about it, but things aren't going to happen in a week. Like it just, things are going to take. There the vast majority of the time, I should say, they're going to take time.

[00:27:14] And that's been the hardest thing for me over the last five years is like being patient, being consistent, continuing to just do one thing, at least every single day to move. Towards what we're trying to accomplish. Right. And it's, it's very important to focus on a, an underlying mission or a chief aim.

[00:27:40] Right. Which is why I have like right here. Chief aim, largest network of entrepreneurs in the world. Everything that I do has to fit underneath of that umbrella, right? Because I need to be helping entrepreneurs or connecting entrepreneurs. It's very, it's very broad God, but it allows me to just like, At the end of the day, as long as I did something towards that, like I know I'm going in the right direction.

[00:28:03] So there's so many ups and downs with it that, you know, the biggest thing is just, you know, continuing to put one foot in front of the other and, you know, keep at it. 

[00:28:16] Sam Kamani: [00:28:16] Yup. That is very, very good. I think a lot of your success for your app has been. The three years before that, of building that community of 20,000 people, you know, um, whether it is through email, Liz, physical events, all the other social stuff you have guys have done.

[00:28:37] Yeah. Um, what has been the most challenging? A lot of that, of building that community before you start. Cause it's not easy to build communities. 

[00:28:49] Michael Marra: [00:28:49] For sure there, and yeah, there's a number of different things. The first thing is you need to figure out like, do people, is there even a. A need to build a community around this.

[00:29:01] Right. Do people, is there enough people that even want to be connected around this topic or industry or whatever that might be right. Whether you're building like a health community or right. A tech community or a coding community or whatever, and now there's communities for almost everything. So yeah.

[00:29:24] Why does there need to be another. Entrepreneur community, right? Why is there need to be another this, right? And w as you start unfolding those layers and you start actually you like, you have to test and iterate stuff. So, you know, you want to build a community for podcasters, will, you know, Start a virtual event.

[00:29:45] That's like podcasters networking. Right. And see if anyone signs up for it, whatever. Or, you know what I mean, hitting up podcasters on Instagram and say, Hey, starting this community want to join. Right. Even just simple things like that, you know, it, it, it goes on, goes a long way and you have to just validate the, the sense of.

[00:30:07] Do people even want a community around this. Um, then the biggest thing is keeping the value there, right? Like keeping the engagement up, like we've had to do so much, so many things over, you know, because we're doing so many events, we had to change up like. Okay. What types of events are people interested in now?

[00:30:26] What types of virtual events are people interested in now? What types of features do people want? Who are they trying to meet? Who are they trying to network with? What type of stuff will they pay for? What type of stuff? Well, they won't pay for. So there's all of these factors and variables that are involved with it.

[00:30:42] And every community is different too. But at the end of the day, it's like, okay, Is there a need for a community around this topic and then what is valuable to them and how can I keep producing that valuable thing on a regular basis and recurring so that they can they'll keep coming back. 

[00:31:03] Sam Kamani: [00:31:03] Yeah. Makes sense.

[00:31:05]this is a community  for entrepreneurs and founders. What was  you had about founders like tech, startup founders that you're quite sure, but it came out to be not true. Um, or did it even happen to you? 

[00:31:25] Michael Marra: [00:31:25] Hmm, that's super interesting. I think one of the biggest things, especially with the tech founders and startup founders that I realized is the majority of people, when they start, they actually want the company to get acquired right there.

[00:31:41] They're starting it to get acquired. And that like philosophy didn't really, I didn't understand it when I first, like, when people started telling me about this, because. You know, and, and it makes a lot of sense right there. There's definitely a lot of benefits of starting companies to get them acquired, to get exits.

[00:32:02] And that that's mostly how startups make their money. Right. That's an investors make their money. But when I started entre, my intention was not to sell. Like I strongly believe that we can build a massive company. And I think it's actually even harder to run the gauntlet of not getting bought. Right.

[00:32:22] You're getting so many big offers. Right to sell that it's actually even harder to hold out and believe in yourself. And you become a public company in a big company in yourself with selling out. So that was a big eyeopening moment. The other thing too, with startups. Um, in particular in tech companies is they put raising money much more on a pedestal than making money as well.

[00:32:51] If you look at all the news and everything, it's like, Oh, how much did you raise? How much did you do that? And it's like, who are your investors? It's like, okay, that's cool. But like how much money are you making? How many users do you have? Like what's the real business is the real business even good. Or you just continue to raise money because you have a great network.

[00:33:09] So I think, um, You know, that's also the other side of it, which is, you know, some of these, uh, Yeah. And it's mostly just the Valley because I look at, we have entrepreneurs from over 115 countries on our, on our app already. And so we have a wide range of people and it's mostly people outside of the Valley.

[00:33:33] Right. But, you know, we've interviewed a lot of people. We've had a lot of people speak at our events and stuff from the Valley. And I know a lot of people out there too, but it's, it's a totally different atmosphere outside because, you know, Majority of entrepreneurs are trying to make money. They're trying to do their own thing and they really don't even want to raise capital.

[00:33:51] So it's super interesting how, um, You know, the tech startups, especially in the Valley approach business versus the majority of other people. Um, as far as like raising money versus making money and stuff, it's super fascinating. So that those are the two things that I would say, um, You know, I learned or that I didn't really understand at the beginning.

[00:34:16] Sam Kamani: [00:34:16] Yup. Yup. Makes, um, yeah. Makes sense. That there's a, there's a lot to it. I think in my view, I'll just give you sort of my point of view. I see that as if you are starting a service based company, then. There is no needs to raise money because can be revenue positive 

[00:34:38] Michael Marra: [00:34:38] right. 

[00:34:39] Sam Kamani: [00:34:39] Week one pretty much. But if you are building a product company, then you need some funding because product is, you might take even five, six, seven years, years to go revenue positive is just like, um, Well, most products take a long time, but once you do get the product market fit, then it's just better off pouring fuel on to fire kind of thing.

[00:35:03] So, so it depends, I think it depends on the case by case basis. And that's why Silicon Valley based companies with funding building great products have been quite successful globally. Even if you look at it, Just lists around the world and yeah. Yeah, because they've got that initial, um, runway to try and best a lot of things.

[00:35:28] Um, and funding makes it possible. Um, without funding, so hard to try and test and, you know, a hundred percent and have that permission to fail. Um, then you're bootstrapping and you're living on instant noodles and you've got a family and stuff. And it's you, you don't have a lot of leeway to fail. 

[00:35:48] Michael Marra: [00:35:48] Totally.

[00:35:49] Yeah. And I, and I'm, I'm not against raising capital either. It's, it's one of those things where I see so many and it's one of the reasons why Silicon Valley wins a lot of the time is what you were just explaining. Right. They have so much money, but I see also at the same time, so many companies that raise so much money and they just burn it on like.

[00:36:12] Work and in certain things that could be done in such a much more capital efficient manner, um, that it just blows my mind. And as someone from Pittsburgh and, you know, you know, uh, more of a, you know, it's, it's just a different, uh, mindset. So I I'm much more lean. I want to raise capital. I know we need to raise capital to do and accomplish what we want, but I want to do it in.

[00:36:37] A manner that we're smart about how we're doing it, that we're not over fundraising, that we're being conservative and lean and making sure that we're growing in the correct way and aggressively and fast, but at the same time, not spending money on, uh, the typical things that, that a lot of, uh, you know, sort of Syntech companies might.

[00:37:04] Sam Kamani: [00:37:04] Absolutely because. Yeah, you have, I mean, you want it to be more sustainable. 

[00:37:10] Michael Marra: [00:37:10] Exactly. And that, and that's the biggest thing too. It's a great point. So sustainability is everything. Can you, and that at the end of the day is what business is all about, right? How can you build a sustainable business for 30 plus years?

[00:37:25] 50 plus years, a hundred plus years, right? That is the, that's a very. Big question that, you know, a lot of people don't ask themselves. 

[00:37:37] Sam Kamani: [00:37:37] Yup. Yup. Very true. Um, you've been an entrepreneur nearly five years, four or five years now. Um, if you could make a phone call back to the Michael of five years ago, what advice would you give him?

[00:37:52] Michael Marra: [00:37:52] For sure. I, 100% would have. I 100% would have stayed at my job longer. Stacked cash paid off all my debt. 100% and I would have worked. At a startup first for like whatever. Uh, even just six months, I would have researched all the startups that just raised, you know, at least a series a or series B, whatever, significant round of funding.

[00:38:19] I would have looked at what they're doing. I would have found a company that I was interested in that industry. I would have looked up their founders and made sure that that was someone that I wanted to work for. And that they're doing really, really cool and innovative things. Yeah, and I would have hit them up aggressively.

[00:38:33] I would've picked whatever the top five hit them up, hit them up, worked at that startup or whatever for six months, maybe a year, learn the ins and outs of startups because it's a very different ball game, right. If you want to go down that direction. Right. And I would have done that. And then I would have, and then I would have started my own thing because that would have cut the learning curve in half.

[00:38:54] I would have been able to save money. I would have been able to finance my, the new company myself after. Yeah. And not have any debt. And you know, when you, when you have debt it's and that's why, you know, I different opinions on college now, especially like in the U S it's it's, it's a very critical issue with, with the, the student loan debt.

[00:39:15] Um, so there, there's a number of different things and, and debt holds. Debt, especially student debt now holds more people back of becoming entrepreneurs than anything. They can't start a business because they have to spend, they have to pay all this debt every month for their student loans. So they have to have a job because it's too risky for them not to.

[00:39:37] Then you add a mortgage and kids or anything else on top of that. And now you're, you're stuck in the debt trap forever and you can never be an entrepreneur. So, um, you know, that, that would be the biggest thing for sure. Um, and if I didn't want to get into startups, if someone's out there, they're not trying to get into startups.

[00:39:57] They want to do like an online business or something. I would just start stuff. I would, you know, just keep creating stuff. I mean, you can literally set up websites, start a eCommerce podcast and blog in a day. Right? The first thing that I did after I learned all this stuff, like I, I put together like a guide, like start a business in one day, right?

[00:40:20] Like when I realized that you can legitimately start a business in one day, blew my mind. Yeah. And I was like, wow, you can do everything that you need to, to legitimately start a business in one day. And why does no one know that this exists, right? And it's a number of different types of businesses too, that you could do that.

[00:40:43] So that's something that I wish, you know, more people would know about. And that's something that we're trying to do with entre is like, Hey, Hey, like get into this stuff. If you're interested in, try it out, because that's the only way you're going to learn if you like it, or don't like, it. Yeah. 

[00:40:59] Sam Kamani: [00:40:59] Yeah,  that makes so much sense.

[00:41:02] And I know, I know some people who have the especially service business, you can find a demon build and start something within a day, if not, maybe, maybe a week at the most, 

[00:41:15] Michael Marra: [00:41:15] but not 

[00:41:16] Sam Kamani: [00:41:16] longer 

[00:41:16] Michael Marra: [00:41:16] than that. And in services. Businesses are the easiest to start. All you need is a skill set, that's it. And then you can start getting clients and, and, you know, every time 

[00:41:26] Sam Kamani: [00:41:26] you just find the people that have the skill set, 

[00:41:29] Michael Marra: [00:41:29] you don't even need, you don't even 

[00:41:30] Sam Kamani: [00:41:30] need this skill set 

[00:41:32] Michael Marra: [00:41:32] and higher.

[00:41:32] You can find people on Upwork or fiber 100%. And that's the easiest thing. Some like personally, I'm not a huge fan of the services just because it's difficult sometimes to deal with clients and people and all of that. It's the same. Yeah. It's hard to scale it as well, but at the same time, you can make a ton of money doing it and you can create fantastic business.

[00:41:58] And it's the easiest way to get started with it. 

[00:42:01] Sam Kamani: [00:42:01] Yeah, it is. It is really, really. Yeah, easy. So look, I completely relate to that. Um, one last question is if you had unlimited time resource and money, what would you work on or what would you build? Mm 

[00:42:18] Michael Marra: [00:42:18] Hmm. Well, I, I, I would build entre faster, number one, but I know, I know that's the obvious answer.

[00:42:26] So one of the, the, a lot of the stuff that I really want to do, um, relates to like, Sustainability and energy and all this other stuff that I want to get into down the line. And, um, you know, and, and back into real estate and stuff. So one of the big things that, you know, we're hopefully going to be doing later on with entre and everything too, but there's going to be a massive opportunity to, um, acquire, uh, a lot of these universities that are going to be going bankrupt in the next five to 10 years with education going online and, and whatnot.

[00:43:02] And I think, um, there's gonna be an opportunity to set up more entrepreneurial universities and create this atmosphere where it's all kind of creators in the sense that everyone kind of works for themselves. We have courses, we have classes, we have teachers, but they're all entrepreneurs or different topics.

[00:43:25] And we're really helping actually innovate. And create a more sustainable and better world. Right. And just allowing people to, you know, there's so much, uh, there's so much creativity inside of everybody and it's. Overshadowed by all this consumerism that that's happening, where we're just inundated with sports and entertainment and Netflix and social media.

[00:43:56] No, a lot of it's very negative stuff and video games and all that sort of stuff. And it's like, why can't we get back to our creative yeah. Juices and stuff like this. So, um, that's definitely part of it creating sustainable campuses and cities where, I mean, there's no reason that. The technology is here for us to not necessarily be, you know, uh, consuming, consuming energy.

[00:44:21] I mean, there's a lot of different ways of doing it. We can, uh, and this is a lot of the stuff that I, I went to school for and what not to, and I want to build a lot of things in solar cars and all sorts of all sorts of crazy stuff. Um, you know what I mean, at the end today, it's all about the network of entrepreneurs because.

[00:44:39] What I realized is if we have the largest network of all the problem solvers and most ambitious and motivated, creative, and innovative people, we can literally solve all the world's problems like, and we can do almost anything. Together that that needs to be done to help better the world. Right. So, uh, that is the underlying thing that I realized when I started all of this is like, wow.

[00:45:07] Like if we really get all these people together and we're all like really, you know, trying to help better the world, we can do it in a better way than anybody else could ever do. 

[00:45:20] Sam Kamani: [00:45:20] Yeah, no, that's great. So, Michael, thank you so much for your time. I will link all the links to connect with you. So your LinkedIn linked to Andhra, LinkedIn entres iOS app and Android app and all those things.

[00:45:38] Um, 

[00:45:39] Michael Marra: [00:45:39] do you 

[00:45:39] Sam Kamani: [00:45:39] have any asks for, are you looking for anything? Are you looking for more users, team members, investors. Um, 

[00:45:47] Michael Marra: [00:45:47] for sure. Yeah. I appreciate that. And, uh, yeah, I mean, we're obviously always looking for, or, you know, entrepreneurs, investors, freelancers, aspiring entrepreneurs, college students that are trying to figure things out to join our network.

[00:46:02] Right. And just jump into a like-minded community. Um, We're also always looking for, you know, speakers, um, and you know, people to get involved with our events. If people already have a company and they want to offer a deal and get more leads like from the entrepreneurs or network open to that to 100. And that, I mean, we'd love to have you involved, you know, with some of our events and stuff.

[00:46:21] I got to get you on our podcast and everything too. Um, And yeah. I mean, look, we're trying to help, you know, so if anyone, you know, is trying to figure out what to do or how to start a business or whatever else just hit me up. Right. And I'm more than happy to, you know, have a call or whatever. They can message me on the app.

[00:46:38] Like I'm always on there. I replied to everybody. So, you know, if there's any yeah. I mean, w we're very open to everything. Um, so just, uh, yeah, just come join entre and, uh, you know, let us know how we can be helpful. That's 

[00:46:53] Sam Kamani: [00:46:53] great. Thank you. Thank you, Michael. So much for your time. It was great talking 

[00:46:56] Michael Marra: [00:46:56] with you.

[00:46:57] Appreciate it, Sam. Thanks so much.


[00:46:59] You so much for listening to this episode of one money, got money with Sam Kamani, hope you enjoyed the show and got some valuable insights that would help you in your startup or your business. If you haven't already please subscribe and rate this show on your favorite platform, it would be extremely helpful.

[00:47:20] And I just cannot tell you how much I would appreciate that.