Brett Markinson: Blank Center Advisory Board Member Profile
Brett Markinson ’89 is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved in the development of many successful businesses, including HauteLook.com, SoleSociety.com, Innovent Capital, and TheOIX.com. At Babson, he pursued concentrations in entrepreneurship and finance. Brett brings a great amount of expertise to his newest role on the Blank Center’s Advisory Board. During the recent Back to Babson weekend, I caught up with Brett to learn about his experience as an entrepreneur since graduating from Babson.
When did you graduate from Babson? What was the entrepreneurship scene like at the time?
I graduated in 1989. At the time, there was no such thing at the Internet or the cell phone. Entrepreneurship was a lot less trendy in a mainstream way.
Being an entrepreneur meant that you were building a product or service, since there weren’t apps or websites yet. My friend group was very entrepreneurial. We were doing word processing at the Wang Computer Center on campus with five-inch floppy disks. When I wanted to research an idea, I would go to the library and use an index card system to pull books. A lot of effort went into research, so as a result, the barrier to be a successful entrepreneur was much higher. It was a combination of mindset and ambition. The spirit of entrepreneurship was very pronounced at Babson, which is why I was excited to come here.
What did you do after graduating?
I’ve never had a proper job. After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles and started my first business called Just Mac It. I recruited college students from USC and UCLA to visit customer homes and set up their new computers. I sold this company to my partner, who joined Just Mac It as it began to grow. I rolled these proceeds into a consulting, rental, and service business which provided digital editing infrastructure to the TV community. I was considered a pioneer because this was new technology. This business scaled very quickly. I also started a third company in which I became the exclusive distributor west of the Mississippi for Avid, The premier video editing technology company.
These businesses were producing significant cash flow, which I reinvested into real estate. I bought a large building in 1997 and started an Internet incubator. I was now running two digital media companies, a real estate portfolio, and an incubation business.
To date, I have worked on over 35 companies and have been the benefactor of six successful exits. I currently have two active businesses. One, called TheOIX.com, is in fintech, and the other in holistic wellness in the area of cryotherapy, providing holistic solutions to address inflammation and related issues. I have been happily married for 20 years, have two beautiful daughters, and I’ve recently agreed to come back to Babson to share my learnings with the entrepreneurship community here.
What is your greatest entrepreneurial achievement?
Acquiring the know-how to create significant value out of thin air.
What motivates you?
Creating cool shit.
What do you do for fun?
Create cool shit. I also love spending time with my family, skiing, golfing, boating, and traveling.
Describe yourself in three words.
Honest, clear, and inspirational.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
The ability to solve problems with creative thinking, which enables the capacity to create value from nothing more than inspiration and ideas.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
The world needs creative solutions to complex social and economic problems.
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs?
My advice to any young entrepreneur looking to develop a business would be to find something that you are so passionate about, you would do for free. Solving a problem should be more of a motivation than making money. The two key takeaways from my experience are to find a tailwind and understand the relationship between moving parts and margin. The moving parts of your business produce friction, and margin is used to hire talent to address the friction. Aim to have a low amount of friction and a high margin.
What excites you about being on the Blank Center’s Advisory Board?
The ability to give back and share my learnings with highly motivated, blindly excited, raw entrepreneurial talent.