- May 16, 2023
- Posted by: EBAN Team
- Category: News
In an exclusive interview, Mark Schneider, a seasoned entrepreneur, angel investor, and Keynote Speaker at the EBAN Annual Congress in Thessaloniki this May, shares valuable insights on team building, leadership, and the European ecosystem. With a rich entrepreneurial background, Mark’s journey has been marked by determination, adaptability, and a commitment to innovation.
“I became an entrepreneur because it was in my blood.”
Raised in an environment where entrepreneurship was celebrated, Mark witnessed the success of his father, who built a chain of stores that eventually became a thriving public company. This upbringing instilled in Mark a strong desire to forge his path and transform his technical innovations into prosperous businesses. Armed with undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, he furthered his education in business, envisioning a future where he could merge his technical expertise with entrepreneurial understanding.
Mark’s career initially led him to a prominent company, Pepsi, where he sought to gain marketing knowledge not learned in technical education. However, the rigid structure of the corporate environment only reinforced his preference for autonomy and the freedom to pursue his ideas. This realisation solidified his identity as an entrepreneur and propelled him to establish his own companies. Like many entrepreneurs, Mark encountered numerous challenges throughout his career, particularly during the early stages. Financial constraints and cash crises tested his resilience, but he emerged stronger, armed with valuable lessons and insights.
“You have to give your team enough rope to hang themselves…and forgive them when they do.”
Drawing from his experiences as a CEO, Mark has developed a unique perspective on team building and leadership. He believes in empowering teams by allowing them to develop and implement solutions. While there is an inherent risk in fostering a culture of ownership, creativity, and collaboration, it ultimately pays off. While empowering the team is crucial, Mark also emphasises the need for attentiveness to details to prevent the team from going too far off the path. Mark’s leadership style strives to promote accountability and continuous improvement within the organisation.
“Build teams that are not like yourself. I need a team to tell me I'm doing the wrong thing. I’ll listen, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'll agree. Some of my most enlightening days as an entrepreneur were when I had a room full of people whose judgement I trusted, all recommending different paths.”
One notable aspect of Mark’s leadership philosophy is his appreciation for diverse perspectives. Rather than seeking validation, he values team members who challenge his ideas and offer different viewpoints. Mark believes that diverse thought leads to better decision-making and robust solutions.
“Make your mistakes and learn at someone else’s company.”
Mark shares invaluable advice for the most inexperienced individuals starting their entrepreneurial journey. He advises working for someone else to gain experience and insights from experienced professionals. He highlights the importance of learning from others’ mistakes.
“Plan your business and understand that every assumption you make will probably be wrong.”
Entrepreneurs should recognise the inevitability of making their own mistakes and embrace the concept of “failing fast, but small.” He encourages aspiring entrepreneurs to recognise that failure, especially when it is not fatal, is a valuable learning opportunity.
“Making the right hires is 99% of the challenge.”
Additionally, Mark emphasises the significance of hiring and motivating a high-performing team. He urges entrepreneurs to prioritise recruiting top-tier talent, even if it initially seems unaffordable. By avoiding the mistakes of hastily hiring ill-suited individuals, entrepreneurs can build strong teams that drive long-term success.
"If you don't have a big enough portfolio, it is a roll of the dice without enough chances."
In terms of investing, Mark emphasises the importance of understanding the economics of companies and the dynamics of investment portfolios. He advises investors to develop a diversified portfolio of at least 20 to 40 companies, ensuring a distribution of small and large exits. Mark also stresses the need for investors to comprehend the intricacies of the cap table and the waterfall, as these factors significantly impact the potential investment returns.
When discussing the European ecosystem, Mark acknowledges that it differs from its American counterpart. He attributes this difference to various factors, such as the nature of the European Union and cultural boundaries that hinder cross-border collaboration. He remains optimistic and excited about his upcoming participation as a speaker at the EBAN Annual Congress in Thessaloniki. He anticipates fruitful discussions and the opportunity to witness the progress of the Mediterranean and South-Eastern European ecosystems firsthand.
To get more insights from Mark and other amazing speakers (https://ebancongress.com/speakers-2023/), join us this May for the largest and most recognised angel investing event in Europe: #EBANCongress – get your ticket on: https://ebancongress.com/tickets/.