In this day and age, everyone wants to start their own business. It has become the “thing to do.” As a founder of AlleyNYC, a home to startup companies, this is pretty awesome for me. After seeing so many early-stage businesses, I noticed that the trend was to create something in the technology sector. With the rise of companies like Facebook, and the gazillion-dollar acquisition offers to companies like Snapchat (let’s not go there), it makes sense why people would want to get into tech.
I would like to take a moment to shine light on other sectors and focus on some of the success stories that are not tech focused -- the forgotten startups that go against the grain. This is for someone out there who wants to follow their dreams to create something, regardless of the direction the trends are pointing. I asked my good friend and UBER successful businessman/ entrepreneur/ artist/ BADASS, Marc Ecko, to answer some questions for us…
Related Video: Marc Ecko on Entrepreneurship as an Art Form
Me: Marc, you made a business of airbrushing t-shirts out of a garage. Forget business, you created a brand that was an amazing culture fit. What advice would you give an inspiring creator in today’s world, technology aside?
Marc: Ain't nothing changed. The greatest IP value still sits squarely in the domain of relationships and the ability to convert those into orchestrated, human actions-- completed in unison. In other words...team work makes the dream work. And don't just be "busy." Don't just check boxes. Create like an artist. Know that art is the evidence of your existence. It isn't just paint or music. Dig?
Me: Every industry has its challenges and every business has its own set of challenges to go along with that. What do you feel are similar challenges most aspiring entrepreneurs face, regardless of the industry or product?
Marc: Humanity. Dealing with your own, and other’s, emotional point of view vis-a-vis the state of your/the business. Life is an endless fountain of irony. So buckle up and enjoy.
Me: Rolling with that question, can you offer a quick tip on how you deal with issues like this?
Marc: Laugh. Watch Will Ferrell movies. Kiss your kids. Intentionally sweat. Stay hydrated. Have great sex.
Me: What do you feel has changed from the time you entered the game? Do you think you would be as successful as you were if you started your company today?
Marc: Yes, structurally things have changed, in terms of the fashion and the media industry. But, relative to other factors, friction levels remain the same. Ask for change. Feel resistance. Since day one. Nothing is new under the sun.
[Note: Marc recently wrote a book called Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out. If you have not read it, you MUST. It was one of the most inspirational, validating books I have ever read.]
Me: Your book talks about being authentic and not selling out, and how that philosophy will pay dividends in the end. How do you suggest you do this in a super competitive landscape, in an environment where only the strong survive?
Marc: Focus on building something bigger than yourself. But know down deep inside that perspective is where the truth exists. So have the humility to always afford yourself some of it -- perspective. We are all small and trivial relative to the universe. I don't care how good or bad it is. And we are all connected because of that. That's effectively the gist of the book.
Marc is a perfect example of someone who is super successful, outside the tech world. He didn't build an app he built a brand. (Keep in mind he probably is building apps now). Marc is an inspiration to us all, to create something we truly believe in, no matter which way the wind is blowing. If you have dreams, if you want something that bad, hustle and get it done.Related: What Every You Do, Do NOT Screw Up an Intro