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Sam Marks put on a Fake British Accent and Scaled his eCig Brand to a $100m Valuation

In his mid 20’s, Sam Marks put on a fake British accent and grew his eCigarette company to a $100m valuation all while living out of his car. Ultimately selling that business to a major tobacco company, Lorillard, Sam applies the lessons that he learned during those days of grinding to his two current startups, dozens of investments, and his podcast – Invest Like A Boss.

Sam Marks’ Early Days

Attending Florida State University, Sam certainly enjoyed his college days. Perhaps he enjoyed them a bit too much as it went to the point of 5 misdemeanors and a felony by the time he was a junior. While none of these were violent crimes, Sam began to have concerns about being able to land a job after graduation. He quickly realized he might need to turn to something of his own if he wanted to succeed as an adult.

Having grown up carrying around a notebook for all of his ideas, this trend continued into college. One day Sam decided his best bet was to become his own boss and pursue one of his ideas.  

Introducing GreekFace

In a time when Facebook was blowing up, Sam decided to make a social media platform for just college fraternities and sororities, called GreekFace. The site grew quickly and was soon over Sam’s head. As luck would have it, an employer called up Sam to offer him a job, but also inquired about buying Sam’s site.

Greekface would be sold a week later and Sam would work for them for the next five months. His first exit was in the bag.

A New Idea

After that job ended, Sam joined a startup that would have him in the office day in and day out. But office life wasn’t for him. Sam had that entrepreneurial itch.

That’s why he decided to get into affiliate marketing and learned to do quite well. While working in that industry, he found himself at a conference in Vegas where he was approached by a gentleman that was looking for someone to sell his e-cigarette.

Sam thought it could have a better design, otherwise it would have a significant market ripe for disruption. This gave Sam the idea to start his own e-cigarette company, SkyCig.  

The Success of SkyCig

Starting with $250k, Sam and his business partner would scale the company up to a $100 million valuation in just three years. It wasn’t all easy though, being in the UK they weren’t allowed to market their e-cigarettes. They had the website and the product but no way to get it moving.

Sam took matters into his own hands. He put on a fake British accent and started handing out products at pubs around town to get the word out. He was living out of his car and barely had a dime to his name, but something about this felt right. Despite the challenges of starting a business in another country, Sam said it was exciting and encourages anyone to really step out of their comfort zone and give it a try.  What else are your twenties for?

A Bumpy Exit

Having his first company approached for acquisition, Sam didn’t know how this process normally worked. Did he just wait for someone to contact him with an offer? Sam didn’t want to wait to take the next step, and so he contacted the US e-cigarette giant BlueCig to see if they wanted to help each other out in their respective markets by sharing data and insights. Instead, BlueCig floated the idea of acquiring SkyCig.

As luck would have it, that would be the last Sam would hear as BlueCig as they were bought out by Lorillard just weeks after that conversation.

A year later… and Lorillard wanted to acquire SkyCig as well.

However, Sam knew that the best way to get a big valuation was to start a bidding war. So, even though he was happy with Lorillard, he went out to garner interest from a few other investors.

With his hard work in the pubs, pushing eCigarettes from the trunk of his car, he was able to drive his valuation to $100,000,000. Not too shabby for a kid who didn’t think he’d get any work after college.

Despite their success, Sam was ready to sell as every day was a gamble on whether they would be shut down with the spotty regulations of the tobacco arena. Sam says the acquisition had its ups and downs and even some litigation in the end. This resulted in only receiving about 1/10th of their earn out potential, but Sam says the whole ride was incredible. 

A New Passion

One thing Sam has learned being a serial entrepreneur is that earnings are inconsistent. Sam knew he needed to know what to do with his money when he had it. That gave way to his new podcast, Invest Like A Boss. Sam says he’s learned a lot about how to manage his money and loves sharing that knowledge with others. He says from a position of empowering himself, it’s been the best decision he’s ever made.  

What Would You Tell Yourself 10 Years Ago

Sam says, honestly, nothing; the ride was incredible. As he gives it more thought, he points out that SkyCig was a spoiling experience where he thought he had things cracked and every future endeavor would be just as easy. He thought he would continue to build and scale companies as quickly and as easily as SkyCig, which hasn’t always been the case. He says he would tell himself not to rush into the next big thing after an acquisition and to give himself time to grow personally. Furthermore, he would tell himself to slow down. With a podcast, two new companies, ten startup investments, and travel, Sam says he’s overextended himself.  

Where To Learn More

With asset prices as high as they are, Sam encourages everyone to listen to his podcast, Invest Like A Boss. With an episode a week, he’ll show you the do-it-yourself way of managing your money all while interviewing investors and looking at their portfolios.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Steve McGarry:

All right. I am here with Sam Marks, the entrepreneur and talk show hosts of Invest Like A Boss. How’s it going today, Sam?

Sam Marks:

Steve, it’s going great. Talking to you from the other side of the world, but you are currently in Tampa, which is an old hometown of mine, and it seems like a nice place to be this time of year.

Steve McGarry:

Most definitely. It was so fun, right before we started recording, we were talking about some of the cool hotspots in Tampa. And where are you right now? Because it’s dark there and it’s morning here.

Sam Marks:

I’m actually in quarantine, 14 day in quarantine, in a hotel in Bangkok.

Steve McGarry:

Okay. Wow. So, literally on the other side of the world.

Sam Marks:

Literally. Actually, Tampa to Bangkok is just, I think, it’s the furthest you can fly in the world. You really can’t… Because I know when I used to live in Tampa and I would fly back and forth to Asia quite a bit, it wouldn’t matter if you flew East or West, it’s still the same amount of flying hours to get to basically Southeast Asia. So, it’s a stretch.

Steve McGarry:

Well, let’s kick things off with some background, I think. I really like laying the foundation for all the listeners out there that want to know a little bit about how you got started and your first kind of, I guess, we could call it the first venture that you really found some success in.

Sam Marks:

Yeah, I guess I have, what I would call somewhat of a classical entrepreneur story ran into some challenging times when I was at Florida State University and by challenging, I mean, I was partying too hard and having too much fun. And the FSU PD disagreed with my actions and by the time I was a sophomore in college, I had four misdemeanors. And by the time I was a junior, I had four misdemeanors and a felony. Totally nonviolent crime. Hosting boxing match at our fraternity house. And there was a new law that was passed and basically they charged me with a felony for a hosting unsanctioned boxing event. So, I had all that going for me by the time I was a junior and I decided, well, I’m not going to get hired out of college. So what are my options?

I’m have to start a business or I’m going to military or something like that. So, I’d always been kind of the kid that was writing down ideas ever since I was like 10 years old, writing down ideas and a notepad. Well, maybe I can invent a robotic vacuum cleaner or something like this to help my mom out and things like this. And I had this notebook that I kind of took the college with me and through college, I was always writing down ideas. So, I decided once a junior was about time to start an idea because I don’t want to go home, live with my parents and mow lawns for the next 10 years. So, I ended up starting a website, then it was called the Greek Cases and it was just a couple of years after Facebook had really started and kind of started to scale across colleges in the USA.

And my idea was, well, take that concept, but go even further niche on it and just to create a platform fraternities and sororities to host events and meet each other and stuff like that. So, that was my first entrepreneurial venture. It actually grew really quick. And I had no idea what I was sitting on. I didn’t know how to measure traffic or understand what scale meant at that point. I was only 19 years old, not 20 years old, and the internet was so new. So, when I was a senior, we ended up… Someone basically called me up off my monster.com job listing. And I put it on there and they just called me up and a day later, they’re like, “We like what you built, we’re actually thinking of hiring you, but is this site still operating?” There like, “Do you still own this website?” I’m like, “Yeah.” Like, “Well, maybe we could buy it off you.”

And literally the next day they, they offered to buy it off me for. Not an insignificant amount of money. And a week later I sold it to them and I started working for him full time as a senior in college from my fraternity house. So, it was amazing.

Steve McGarry:

Nice, nice. So, senior in college, you technically exit your first company and then the bug is hooked. You’re hooked into the world of building.

Sam Marks:

Oh yeah. It was addicting. And I was getting like a $4,000 a month paycheck when I was a senior in college. And this company was so far behind on what they’re trying to build, that I kept trying to work and they’re like, “Hey, we’ll come back to you when we need to get stuff done.” So, it was like senior in college getting a $4,000… I was used to living off noodles. I was living off like a $600 a month budget. And so, when this came in, it was like, I was partying all the time thinking I’m the hottest thing, but yeah, that was my first exit. And that certainly watered the seeds in me for entrepreneurship for the rest of my life so far.

Steve McGarry:

Nice, nice. So, that was the education, basically. In a nutshell, you had the social life at school, you got your education through business by building out Greek Cases and then this acquisition happens and you go there for a certain amount of time, let’s say, and you’re getting $4,000 a month. What brings you to start the Sky Cig company? And how did that happen? How did that take off?

Sam Marks:

So, the acquiring company I went and worked for about five months. I walked in one day, I thought everything was going incredibly good. I loved the job. I loved the role. And I walked in one day, said, “We’re shutting down.” And I said, “When?” They said, “Today.” I’m like, “Can I take my computer and desk chair?” They’re like, “Yeah, sure.” So, I took that stuff. I was gone, I got two weeks severance and then it was back to figure out shit again. And I started a few side hustles. I was doing crazy work, like road construction and surveying and stuff while trying to figure out where to start. I ended up joining a startup and working for that startup for two years down in Miami. And when I was about two years into it, I had stock options in the company, but I was starting to have to go in every single day and just wasn’t digging. Going into an office every single day and giving up those years of my life, working for somebody else.

So, I started doing affiliate marketing online and learning how to do really well in online marketing. And about the same time I went out to a conference in Las Vegas. And at that point we were pretty reputable for being big online marketers and health and diet space. And a manufacturer from China came up to me and showed me this little clunky e-cigarette and said, “Hey, I make this and would you be able to sell it?” And I looked at it and I was like, “Oh, this thing is…” I tried it, totally primitive piece of crap product. But I thought, wow, if that had a better design and could become a little bit more realistic, maybe a little bit better flavor profile, there’s the tobacco market right there, like this massive, massive $100 billion market and that’s right for disruption.

So, that was where we got the idea to start the e-cigarette company. And one day, one guy that was doing an affiliate market with, just called me up and said, “I think the times now, we were hearing things about this product starting to do really well in the USA.” And we said, “You know what? Why start in the USA? There’s already people here. Let’s go to the next best market. What’s the next best market? I don’t know. What’s English speaking, smoked cigarettes, has tobacco banned, cigarettes are expensive. How about the UK? You ever been to the UK? No. Have you? No. Oh, well, let’s give it a try.” So, that was the decision to start Sky Cig and basically, a week later I booked a flight to London. I was 25 years old and that became my home for the next three years.

Steve McGarry:

Nice, nice. And who did you initially bring on? Was it people that were from that startup in Miami? And how did you initially get that start? Did you raise any money or did you… How did you assemble the crew? I guess you could call it.

Sam Marks:

Yeah, so I think a lot of the listeners will probably love this. I’ll just fast forward, a little bit in the story and come back to that. But we never raised any type of significant money. The total capital that we put into this business was about 250,000 and most of that money wasn’t until later on a few years down the road. So, what we achieved, all that money is really incredible. And especially in that period of time, but I quit my job in Miami for the startup. I had stock options. My stock options in this company would have ended up being worth over a million dollars if I’d stayed with the company for another two years. So, I knew I was walking away from something meaningful, but I still wanted to take the risk.

One of the guys I was doing affiliate marketing with who was basically bankrolling the affiliate marketing operation. I was running all the ads and everything. And he was just giving me credit cards to run up a balance on. when it’s off. We decided to do the business together and he’s like, “I’ll put in 50,000 and you run it, same type of thing.” We never thought this was a business that we were going to be able to exit. It was just too gray and we thought we’d be killed by tobacco executives before this thing ever really got moving. But anyways, I flew over there and that first 50,000 we’d spent about 5,000 building a website. We spent 20,000 making our first purchase order, getting all the branding done. And so, we’d spent 25,000 and that first shipment of goods flew into London and met me off the plane.

I rented a car, like a hatchback. I had to learn how to drive backwards and all that shit, driving the steering wheel on the right, driving on the left. I’m 25. I don’t know what I’m doing. And I put all the product in the back of the car and we had a website, we had product and you can’t advertise. So, I get there, and by the time we get there and all this is happening so fast, we realize you can’t advertise e-cigarettes. You can’t advertise. It’s tobacco, it’s labeled as tobacco. And we’re like, this is our strength. We’re amazing online marketers. We’ve made a lot of money doing affiliate marketing. Now we just realized we can’t advertise. So, how do you market a product that you can’t advertise traditionally? And so, figured, okay, well, you’re going to have to go pass this products out in the streets.

So, I just started going pub to pub, to pub putting on a fake, phony, British accent, going up to people and handing them product. And I’m asking them to try the product. And I started taking photos and videos and handing out promotion codes and stuff like this. So, we couldn’t advertise. So, we had to do things a grassroots way, a traditional way. And we just started going pub to pub. Initially, it was just me and then I flew out a college friend and we lived in the back of the car and hostels and that was all we did all day. We go pub to pub, to pub handing out product, directing people who like the product to go onto the web and reorder refills for the e-cigarettes.

Steve McGarry:

Love it, love it. And I love the fact that listeners out there have the opportunity to hear an authentic entrepreneurial journey. That’s not all bright, shiny exits. It all starts with the grind of literally sweat equity, where you’re living out of your car and you’re going pub to pub, talking to people, getting it in the hands of people, handing out promo codes. I love the hustle there. And that’s a fantastic way to get it out word of mouth-wise. If you can’t advertise via the traditional channels, it’s a tough, tough thing to not be able to do.

Sam Marks:

Absolutely. When people ask me about this experience, I mean, I think the best part of this experience, and advice I always give to people, if you’re in your 20s you’re immortal. And to have that experience of going to a foreign country and trying to start up a business, win or fail, that whole journey was so exciting now that it’s stay in your home city where you’re well-connected, raise a boatload of money and try to scale as quick as possible. But just blowing money on all types of advertising means et cetera. But this experience to go into Britain when I was 25 and starting this and living in cars, it was like an extension of college, but such a much better adventure all around. So, I would just encourage anyone who’s thinking about entrepreneurship and getting started. I mean, that can be such an amazing element to your experiences, consider trying it in another country because so many people would never take that route, but something that I really cherished and got a lot of value out of.

Steve McGarry:

Yeah. And it’s basically that the comfort zone that people step out of to start a company, even in their hometown. It’s taking it to the next level of a double step-

Sam Marks:

On steroids.

Steve McGarry:

… Yeah. The step out of comfort zone is on steroids, basically go into a foreign country to start up. So, let’s talk about the exit itself. Let’s kind of deconstruct that a little bit for listeners in terms of how it happened. How did the initial conversations start and how big were you guys when those conversations started?

Sam Marks:

Yeah. So, this is a question that was always going through my mind as I was building this business and previous businesses was like, “How does that exit actually come about? Did someone just email you through the support queue one day that someone walked by your office and knock on the door? Do you go out to dinner and meet somebody that… How do these things happen? Right? Because halfway through the business we didn’t have anyone inquiring about buying the business. But by that time, within three years of me landing in the UK, the business has been pretty significant. We’re doing a couple million dollars a month in revenues. We had started doing retail. So, we’re reinvesting the online profits into starting retail distribution. And at this point tobacco, like it was really still fuzzy and gray, e-cigarettes. We didn’t know how governments were going to treat it. We dud know how it’s going to be regulated.

And it was super stressful because every morning you would wake up and you don’t know if you’re going to be shut down the next day. And in the U.S things were materializing much quicker and you could tell it tobacco was starting to get into the industry, whether by building or by acquiring. And there was a company in the U.S called Blue Cig, which was the biggest and we had some insight information on them. So, I thought that maybe we can form some type of alliance and help each other out. So, I ended up finding their manufacturer and through their manufacturer in China, I got the CEO’s kind of direct email on the hush hus. And then, I just emailed the CEO and said, “Hey, we’re the biggest in Britain. You’re the biggest in the U.S. We’re not planning to come to Britain. We’re not planning to come to U.S Anytime soon, if you’re not planning to come to Britain, why don’t we help each other out with data or insights or whatever is working. We can share this data and support each other a little bit.”

And he responded basically, saying, my first thought is that maybe you guys could start representing us in Britain. And my response was like, “Well, that sounds good but we have an established business and brand that we’ve been working on for three years so all of our equity is tied up in that. So, if you wanted us to work with you on that level, we’d have to think of it more as a merger and acquisition.” And he said, “let me get back to you in a month.” Well, next week news broke that they got acquired for $130 million by [Loa Lord 00:17:05] Tobacco. And then, I didn’t hear anything from them for a year. And during that year we were expanding our business. We knew now that tobacco was getting into it, so it was only a matter of time that either Loa Lord wants to expand further or some of these other companies want to get involved these other big tobacco companies, but the writing was on the wall.

So, we just focus that year really on trying to put up barriers. We did some pretty, pretty interesting stuff. We moved our brand a little bit more towards the brand in the U.S and then we filed design patents across Britain so that if they ever tried to import their product to Britain, they would basically hit a firewall.

So, we did some things like this, just be a little bit more protective. And then, eventually they just emailed me back a year later and said, “Hey we’re interested in expanding more. Would you guys want to have a conversation about possibly being acquired?” And that’s how it started. With these things I’ve found in my experience that having one company want to buy you is great. Having two is like 10 times better because when you have two, you have a competitive tension between those, and it just makes you that much more appealing and it gives you so much more leverage. So, we ended up bringing on investment bankers to handle that process. And their first job was trying to go out and find another party that would be interested in potentially buying us as well.

Steve McGarry:

Got it, got it. Yeah because often there’s a why. A lot of time, first of all, people wonder, okay, how does an exit happen? And then, people wonder why does an exit happen? And many times people think that someone’s burned out or they’re just ready to move on to the next venture. And sometimes that is the case, but in this case, you guys had expanded and basically, it was a land grab. You guys got control of the market. You were the leaders in the market. And then, it was just a matter of time basically before these acquirers came out, hunting you guys to effectively acquire you. So, that’s kind of baked into the why, but for people out there that let’s say, they have been operating a business for the same amount of time, you were operating Sky Cig, what would you say was the driver to really go through with the acquisition? Were you eager to start something else? Would you have continued to run it? Do you think if the acquisition wouldn’t have happened, what was your kind of why you went through with it?

Sam Marks:

It was extremely fun, but even more stressful and chaotic business to be part of, even I was 28 when we ended up selling it. So, we started this thing and we scaled it in three years. But every single day we woke up, we didn’t know if we were going to be killed by some tobacco or big farm… And I mean like, seriously, this was major concerns for us. We had to all types of death threats that we just never even knew where they came from. It was really weird. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of British airways, their dirty tricks that they played on Virgin airlines, but it was the same type of stuff. If anyone’s familiar with that story. Its same type of stuff. And it was really challenging. You couldn’t raise money. There was no VC money available because it’s gray area. So, we’re just operating it off fumes. And every morning you woke up, you didn’t know if you’re going to be shut down. And then on the other side of the equation, we had just seen a company that was very comparable to us, get acquired for 130 million.

And so, there was a lot more growth ahead of us, but at the same time, it was like… And if we could even get a fraction of that, I was 28 years old, any type of money like that would be extremely life-changing. Now, at this point, there’s four partners in the business and we were all at different emotional levels. Like I was the single young kid that had two nickels of scratch together, two of the other guys were going through divorces. They wanted money. One other guy just wanted to build this thing and become a billion dollar business. And in hindsight probably could have looked at Juul. And we were really the first big players in Europe. So, I was pushing for just to exit. My attention span, true to millennials is pretty short from where I live to who I date to what I work on. So, I’d been in it three, four years. It felt like a lifetime to me. And I wanted to cash out and move on. And I think that was the right decision in the long run.

Steve McGarry:

Yeah. So, the company goes through the acquisition. Loa Lord was the one who acquired you guys. What happened afterwards? Was there a vesting schedule? Did you have to stick around rebrand? What happened after the acquisition?

Sam Marks:

Oh man, that whole acquisition process is such an incredibly interesting story that was full of ups and downs. But we ended up having two parties bidding on the company. One was Philip Morris, which everyone’s probably familiar with. And another one is Loa Lord who people are less familiar with, was a big U.S Tobacco company. The biggest tobacco company in U.S. But Loa Lord ended up winning the “bidding”. And so, we did the deal with them. Half the deal was cash up front, half the deal was in an earn-out. And so, basically, both companies were bidding on different structures of the business. Phillip Morris wanted to manufacturing. We had set up our own manufacturing in China. They wanted the manufacturing and they wanted the brand, Loa Lord didn’t want the manufacturing. They just wanted the brand and the retail distribution.

So, basically we just agreed between the shareholders, at that point was focusing more on the manufacturing, said whoever would do the deal with, whoever is important to that part of the business at the time, we’ll just stay on. They’re going to get plush salaries and executive packages and stuff like this. So, because we did the deal with Loa Lord, I was pretty much done about six months after. So, I was already in Asia, I tie-dyed up the manufacturing. I was done. Now, the challenging of this whole thing is, immediately after doing the deal, we got into litigation with Loa Lord because of the way that certain things were accounted for. So, that already like muddied the water post transaction. And then, we had this really large earn-out that we were going after, but the relationships were already kind of dinged at that point. Long story short, the earn-out went for another two and a half years, and we only got… I want to say we only got one… Yeah… About one tenth of what we were expecting in the earn-out.

And true to most earn-outs, they are much more suited for the buyers and sellers. They’re an earn-out for a reason. But all in all a very good, a very good end to the story. We achieved $100 million valuation off 250,000 total capital contributed. And we scaled it from zero to that in three and a half years. Starting out of the back of a car. So, the whole ride was really incredible. And I think today there’s been like three e-cigarette companies that have been also acquired, but when we got acquired, most of the world’s still unfamiliar with e-cigarettes, but now it’s everyone sees it everywhere.

Steve McGarry:

Oh yeah. And like you said, Juul, I mean really took it to a new levels, for sure. And it’s funny because I literally just sat down and watched Thank You for Smoking last night, which is funny that we would be sitting down to talk after watching that movie with the sleek lobbyists for big tobacco. But after the acquisition goes through, sounds like the earn-out, it was a little bit bumpy, which a lot of earnouts, majority are quite bumpy in my experience, at least. What happens next? You start a Podcast, you start a company called Coworkers. What are you working on now?

Sam Marks:

Yeah. So, after we exited, I stayed in Asia for a while and tried to figure out what to do with my time. And that was one of the big learning experiences was that, there was so much build up and anticipation and achieving the exit and then the exit happened. It was sort of unclimatic. And I immediately was like, “What do I do all day? I’m 28. All my buddies are working. And I had this company that was… We were basically up to 100 staff in the UK and our manufacturing arm and in China was 400 people. And I was just used to all this stimulation and activity all day long. And then, the light switch went off and I was like, “What do I do?” Ended up frequenting lounges and bars way too often. And just decided I had to kind of refocus all my attention and I loved entrepreneurship. So, from that point, it really just, I overdid it. I started investing in a lot of startups, which has been good experience.

And then, I started a couple of companies, including this current one I have, Coworker and started a Podcast, Invest Like A Boss because got to figure out how to manage my own money because I was tired of the vulnerabilities of speaking to financial advisors and feel like I’m getting pushed around and all this marketing lingo that I can’t understand. And yet I look at my account and what they’re telling me, doesn’t seem to… The words don’t match the music. So, I started to invest like a boss. And that is honestly, probably been the best thing I’ve ever started from position of empowering me to feel like I am not going to get screwed over financially by the system or by advisers or by government or whatever.

And I think, if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you’re going to make money and in tranches, your earnings are going to be anything but consistent. And when you make that tranch of money, you need to know what to do with it. And that’s been basically my mission over the last four or five years, learning it for myself. And then, sharing that journey with the listeners.

Steve McGarry:

Well said, well said, I love that it’s earned in tranches anything but consistent. So you got to learn what to do with it when you have it. When the the ups are the ups, right? That’s very well said. So, the finale question that we ask everybody on the show here is knowing what you know now, what would you tell Sam 10 years ago?

Sam Marks:

Sounds sort of boring, but I wouldn’t do anything different because my twenties were just… I couldn’t have wrote it any better. I couldn’t have wrote it any better. And I think that even if I hadn’t had that exit, I don’t think I would’ve changed anything because the experience of doing what was done, that whole journey was incredible. Like, I was, well, up to the point of exiting. I was like, if this exit doesn’t go through the business will probably fail. If it probably fails, I’ll probably just go like to South America or Southeast Asia and get a job as a taxi driver or something until I figure out what to do because I was just enjoying the experience of foreign adventure and foreign conquests so much. But I have to say like that experience at Sky Cig, was extremely spoiling and it’s never… From seeing what I’ve learned after I exited that company I thought I’ve got this system cracked. It’s going to be easy to make money going forward. I’m going to build companies and scale them to a $100 million in three years.

And it hasn’t been my experience. What we did off that much money is sort of a fluke. And there was a lot of luck involved. So, I wouldn’t do anything different. I wouldn’t have rushed into so much stuff post exit, I would have taken more time and just chilled out, read some books on Buddhism or yoga, relaxation, because I got myself into a really weird spot after the exit. Just trying to figure out… Trying to find myself but it was all a lot to take in that kind of age, 28, I suppose, looking back. And then, I would have slowed down. I wouldn’t have overextended myself into so many different things, Podcast, two new companies, 10 startup investments, travel, all this stuff. Like it was too much. And you forget, when you start things they’re easy to begin with. And then, they all grow up. They grow up and become big, big things that you either got to somehow support and maintain and grow, or you got to shut them down or go sideways for a long time.

So, you always have to remember that what you plant these seeds, these things grow up and you don’t want to get into a spot, where I got to where just way over extended, stressed out every day and regretting some of those decisions.

Steve McGarry:

Well said. Well, cool. Those are all the questions that I have for you today. Where can people go and follow your journey? Where can they go and listen to your Podcasts? Where would you like to send people?

Sam Marks:

Yeah, I appreciate that. If you guys are interested in learning how to invest yourself, this is obviously a really interesting time with asset prices as high as they are. And these, Bitcoin and Tesla. But what we try to do is really do it yourself approach, and just empower you with knowledge to learn how to manage your money. Instead of using advisors. Anyways, it’s called Invest Like A Boss. We usually do an episode a week and just interview experts, and then we talk about it and we share our portfolios on where we’re investing and how that journey has been. So, if you want to check it out, investlikeaboss.com.

Steve McGarry:

Excellent. Excellent. Well, all the links that Sam mentioned will be in the show notes. So, definitely if you’re listening on Spotify or iTunes, definitely check that out, but thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing the exit and the story, Sam.

Sam Marks:

Steve, thank you guys, and appreciate you guys dissecting how exits come about because it can be really… It can be daunting getting into entrepreneurship, not knowing how you can get out. And I think this is a big question that people need more transparency on and more assurance on the different routes that you can take to achieve an exit. So, thank you guys.

Steve McGarry:

For sure. Thanks for coming on.

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry

Steve McGarry is an entrepreneur, content creator, and investor based in sunny Tampa, Florida. In 2015, while living in San Francisco, Steve sold his first fintech startup LendLayer to Max Levchin’s (founder of PayPal) consumer finance company Affirm. In the last 5 years, Steve has both built an online community that reaches 1.4 million people every month on social media and a portfolio of over a dozen web properties. Currently, he’s the co-founder of a next-generation fintech startup called GrowYourBase while managing his portfolio of online businesses.