Failed Miserably as a Student
I just wasn’t meant to be in a classroom. I graduated at the bottom of my class in High School and got rejected from every college I applied to. When I finally got into college I dropped out as quickly as possible. I went to school with the intent of studying Theatre and being an actor in Hollywood. It didn’t exactly pan out.
Founded Blue Diesel
(Interactive Marketing Agency)
When I was 19 I started my first company, Blue Diesel. It was the dawn of the Internet era and I was starting a Web development company - great timing I suppose. Landed huge clients - BMW, Bank One, Best Buy and Eli Lilly, grew it to $65 million in capitalized billings, and sold it to inChord communications.
Co-Founded Kelltech Internet Services
(Software, Content Management)
While still running Blue Diesel in Columbus, Ohio, I decided to co-found Kelltech Internet Services in Cleveland, Ohio. We started off doing consulting and morphed into a company with a simple content management software platform. Running two companies in two cities wasn't exactly a picnic but Kelltech was later sold to GTCR so we must have done something right.
Entrepreneur of the Year Awards
I became the finalist and recipient of the Ernst & Young and U.S. Small Business Association Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 1999 respectively. I think everyone in 1999 had +30 points added to their perceived IQ.
They were all subtracted in 2001.
Joined inChord Board of Directors
(Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Ad Agency)
inChord went from being a tiny little ad agency when I joined to becoming one of the fastest growing ad agencies in the country. I had the privilege of sitting on the board while also growing one of the largest lines of business while at Blue Diesel (we sold Blue Diesel to them when they were small). Watched the company grow from $50 million to over $650 million in billings in five years.
It's now a billion dollar public company, VTIV. Sweet.
Created Virtucon Ventures
Got really tired of telling other people how the Web works and started using my Jedi skills for my own companies. Launched Virtucon Ventures as a platform for building and growing companies quickly. This was circa 2002. Not a popular time to be launching Web companies. And yes, Virtucon is named after Dr. Evil's company in Austin Powers. Finding good office space carved into the side of a mountain proved challenging, but not impossible.
Ohio Businessperson of the Year Award
Named one of Ohio's most distinguished business leaders among past recipients such as Dave Thomas (Wendy's), Robert Lazarus (Lazarus Department Stores), and John McCoy (Bank One). Unfortunately you don't get a billion dollars to go with it like they did.
(Automotive Leasing Marketplace)
Launched Swapalease.com and learned how the auto industry works. Within a few years we became the world's largest auto leasing marketplace with over $1 billion in vehicles listed. In case you ever wondered whether that cheesy car salesman is screwing you on your lease - the answer is "yes" - he absolutely is.
Created Two Collegiate Scholarships
Created two collegiate scholarships for Washington State University and Marietta College. The irony being I could barely pay for my own tuition a few years prior and dropped out of college completely.
Published LeaseAdvisor on Paperback
Wrote an entire book about how to lease a car. Sold pretty well, primarily through Swapalease.com. If you ever find yourself suffering from insomnia, I highly recommend reading (or writing) a book about leasing a car.
Launched the Go BIG Network
(Community of Startup Companies)
Created the world's largest community of startup companies. I set out to find a way to make life easier for entrepreneurs trying to start and grow their companies. An entrepreneur that joins Go BIG Network can now have access to tens of thousands of investors, advisors and services to help grow quickly. Now over 200,000 companies use Go BIG. I love that.
Became a Nationally Syndicated Columnist
In preparation for writing a book I asked American City Business Journals if they would let me author a bi-weekly column about starting companies and raising money. Within the first year the column would go on to get syndicated in 42 markets to over 4 million readers. (2005 Column)
Published Go BIG or Go HOME
Published Go Big or Go HOME, a book about how to grow a company as fast as humanly possible. Wrote 900 pages in one year which left me with 200 published pages (and a hangover from the amount of caffeine it takes to write 900 pages). Believe it or not, it's really not that hard to write a book - it's just really hard to write a book without going off in a million directions at once.
Joined the Board of the Columbus Symphony
Was pleasantly surprised to be asked to join the Symphony's Board. Partly because the other people on the board are so well-regarded and partly because I'm nobody.
Became a Columnist for Forbes
Started writing for Forbes, the magazine that changed my life as a kid. When I was 19 I was riding the bus back and forth every day to the law firm I was interning at. I never cared about business but read Forbes during the bus ride all the time because it was the only magazine the law firm had sitting around. Reading the Forbes coverage of great entrepreneur literally made me want to become one myself. Within three months I had started my first company, Blue Diesel. So you can imagine writing for the magazine means a lot to me! (My first column)
Became a Columnist for Largest Men's Pub - Askmen.com
Started as a regular columnist for AskMen.com, the largest men's publication with over 5 million readers per month. It was really cool to just write "guy stuff" and not just "business stuff", although I think transitioning to relationship advice probably ain't gonna happen. (My first column)
Wrote for TechCrunch, GigaOm, and VentureBeat
Began contributing to TechCrunch, GigaOm, and VentureBeat, some of the most innovative blogs on the Web. The rate at which guys like Michael Arrington consume and publish stories is just beyond my capacity. The guy is superhuman!
Joined the Board of Navigator Management Partners
Got back to my consulting roots and joined the board of Navigator Management partners alongside Jeff Wilkins, the guy who founded CompuServe before anyone knew what the Internet was (except Vint Cerf I guess).
Featured in Wall Street Journal
The hallmark of an entrepreneur's career in my mind is either the cover of Forbes (I'm happy just with the columnist job) or a feature in the Wall Street Journal. It was really cool to see this feature when it was printed. Actually, it was almost eerie because I associate the Journal with far more respectable businesspeople than me in it. (Online Version)
(Casting for TV Online)
If you read the rest of my bio you'll learn one thing - I really wanted to be an actor and totally blew it. GotCast is my second hope. In just a few years we were casting for every major show on television and became the largest destination for aspiring talent. Ironically, I still can't get cast.
Joined the Board of Commerce National Bank (FRMC)
Joining the Board of publicly held bank (FRMC) was like going behind enemy lines. I got to see why I always got turned down for loans. Now that I'm watching how banks operate, I can't believe anyone can qualify for a loan.
(Online Business Planning Software)
Got really tired of seeing so many of my fellow entrepreneurs struggle through the business plan writing process. Of course you don't know how to write one - why would you? So we built Bizplan.com
a revolutionary platform to just guide people through the process and make sharing it easy. Wish I had it 15 years ago.
Joined Board of 2checkout.com
(Online Merchant Processor)
Long before PayPal was around, 2checkout.com was helping e-commerce merchants and small businesses process payments. Since then the company has grown to over $200 million in sales all from the hard work of my friend and Founder, Alan Homewood.
(E-commerce and Finance)
One day someone asked me where they could buy a Playstation using weekly payments. Having grown up extremely poor I remember wanting stuff I could't afford today, but could pay off tomorrow. Set out to create a build a way for anyone to responsibly buy the products they wanted under terms they could easily afford. Hence Affordit.com was born.