Ep. 93 – Marc Gorlin Shares Transformative Wisdom

Welcome to The Main Thing Podcast. Our special guest is a savvy, serial entrepreneur with several start-ups and successful exits to his credit.

Marc Gorlin is the founder and CEO of Roadie, a UPS Company. Roadie is a logistics management and crowdsourced delivery platform that provides businesses with a faster, cheaper, more scalable delivery solution. 

Before launching Roadie, Marc co-founded Kabbage Inc., VerticalOne Corporation, and Pretty Good Privacy (Also called “PGP”). 

He received the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® National Award in 2021 and the John Imlay Leadership Award in 2022. Marc joins us today from Atlanta.

Get ready! Over the next 9 minutes, you will discover why Marc Gorlin is one of the wisest people I know.


Marc Gorlin on LinkedIn

The Roadie website

News article announcing Marc as the 2021 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 

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Content You’ll Enjoy in this Podcast

[00:01] – Intro

[01:07] – Brief bio for Marc Gorlin

[02:00] – Welcome and opening dialog

[02:35] – The story behind Roadie; Marc’s moment of inspiration; Glenn from UCLA

[05:01] – How Marc and Skip are connected; Steve Denton (Episode 53)

[05:33] – The source of entrepreneurial inspiration in Marc’s life; value of struggle

[07:00] – Opportunity for you to support our work and help keep the wisdom flowing

[08:08] – Marc reveals his Main Thing; the value of a journalism degree

[08:55] – How to gain customers and partners … or convince that first employee to join

[09:30] – Igniting people’s imagination; bringing your ideas to life

[10:00] – Real examples of the business model solving problems; Roadie comes to life

[10:27] – Skip describes the movie that was playing inside his mind

[11:30] – Marc shares two specific pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs

[12:39] – The value of an MVP versus the mythical perfect product

[13:20] – Thank you and so-long

[13:43] – Outro

Full Transcript

0:01:01 – Announcer
Welcome back to The Main Thing Podcast. I’m your host, Skip Lineberg, coming to you again from Parkwood Studios. Today’s special guest, Marc Gorlin, is the founder and CEO of Roadie, a UPS company. Roadie is a logistics management and crowd-sourced delivery platform that provides businesses with a faster, cheaper, more scalable delivery solution. Marc is a serial entrepreneur. Before he launched Roadie, he co-founded Kabbage Inc., Vertical One Corporation, and Pretty Good Privacy, also known as PGP.

Marc received the prestigious Ernst Young Entrepreneur of the Year National Award in 2021 and the John Imley Leadership Award in 2022. Marc joins us today from Atlanta.

Buckle in and get ready. Over the next nine minutes, you will discover why Marc Gorlin is one of the wisest people I know.

0:02:00 – Skip Lineberg

Marc Gorlin, welcome to The Main Thing Podcast. Thank you so much for making time today to explore some wisdom together.

0:02:08 – Marc Gorlin
Thank you for having me. It’s awesome to be here, Skip.

0:02:11 – Skip Lineberg
Marc, i don’t know about your family, but mine. It seems like people are coming and going. We’ve got kids coming back from college. I got one graduating. May is just a busy time. Is that kind of the case in your family as well?

0:02:24 – Marc Gorlin
Oh yeah, i just had a daughter graduate from high school, going to Ole Miss in the fall, so everybody’s moving around.

0:02:32 – Skip Lineberg
Well, congratulations, Marc. I just love the story of how the idea for roadie was born. Would you mind to tell that story one more time for our listeners?

0:02:42 – Marc Gorlin
Absolutely! I was living in Atlanta. Had a condo down in Perdido Key, Florida, in the panhandle Gulf Coast. The developer apparently did not put pans underneath the master bathroom shower in some of the units in the building. So somebody’s shower leaked into six units. They’re all pissed off. Made a big mess. Then everybody had to go in and fix their master bathroom shower. Yeah, so I did it. It was a Thursday in February 2014, driving down to the beach. I get to Montgomery, Alabama. I had lunch, got back in the truck and then I got a call from Glenn, who was the tile guy. Now, Glenn is from UCLA. If you know where that is, Skip.

0:03:22 – Skip Lineberg
Okay, it’s probably not Southern California.

0:03:25 – Marc Gorlin
It’s not. no, it’s not there. It’s actually the upper corner of Lower Alabama. He doesn’t talk like you or me, but the call went like this with Glenn. He’s like, “Hey, Marc, it’s Glenn. That bull-nosed tile done shown up broken as shit. Ain’t gonna be here till overnight delivery, which is on Monday.”

Overnight delivery should have been Friday. I was gonna get nowhere. I said, “Where is this tile, Glenn?”

He said, “Well, I think it’s in Birmingham,” which was about an hour and a half north of Montgomery.

So I said, “Great.” I hung up.

I’m kind of pissed off, sitting at the overpass of I-65 in Montgomery, Alabama. I look left and I see all these cars going south. I look right and I see all these cars going north. And I think to myself – you know, there’s bound to be somebody leaving Birmingham right now heading to Montgomery. If just knew who they were. Surely someone would throw a box of tile in their truck. Give them 20 bucks. They’re going this was anyway. There’s probably someone going all the way down to the beach, and I could have my toes in the sand by the time they were there.

And that’s when it hit me that there’s this unbelievable transportation “heat map” of all of us … really 250 million passenger vehicles with four billion cubic feet of excess capacity on the road every single day. So what would happen if we could put that wasted space to use? And that’s what we did with Roadie, matching up some of the top Fortune 500 retailers, small businesses and you and me. Those who have stuff to send with people who are ideally already going that way and can get paid for what they were already going to do that day.

0:04:49 – Skip Lineberg
You’re doing it. That epiphany that you had: you brought it to life, commercialized it and you’re running that business now. That is super cool!

0:04:56 – Marc Gorlin
It is fun. It is the best job I’ve ever had.

0:05:01 – Skip Lineberg
I just wanted to say thank-you to my friend, Steve Denton, who connected me with you. Steve, thank you so much for putting me in touch with Marc here. Marc, how do you and Steve know one another?

0:05:17 – Marc Gorlin
Well, Steve is a CEO of Ware2Go, which is a fellow UPS subsidiary, doing some really cool stuff in the on-demand warehousing space. We are a company that got acquired a couple years ago by UPS, so we wind up seeing each other and trying to work together as much as we can.

0:05:33 – Skip Lineberg
Marc, where did the entrepreneurial bug come from in your life?

0:05:36 – Marc Gorlin
I mean, I have to definitely go back to my dad. He started somewhere upwards of 27 or more Biotech companies and still doing it at age 86.

0:05:45 – Skip Lineberg
You’re kidding. Wow 86!

0:05:47 – Marc Gorlin
Oh no, he’s still going, and I guess it’s a lot easier to imagine yourself taking a leap and starting a company after you’ve seen somebody else do it a bunch of times. I owe him a lot. I grew up seeing an idea come up, and then a bunch of people show up at the kitchen table. Then, all of a sudden, there are too many people at the kitchen table. Mom would throw them out. They would get an office, and it became a company that people came into, and things started happening. That’s sort of the progression of it. I mean, there’s times early on that you’re surprised people are still coming to the office to do this–long before remote work.

0:06:21 – Skip Lineberg
Did you also see him struggle at certain points in the in the development of the project or the company? There was a struggle phase, perhaps.

0:06:31 – Marc Gorlin
Those are the parts you remember the most. I mean, those are the parts that sort of mold you. Seeing how hard it was and how you could get past all of that difficulty and hardness, as you’re going through it. It sort of teaches you a perseverance and resilience that when you wind up you know with your own boulders in front of you–you know you can climb over and go around and blow them up. Do whatever, but you can get around them.

0:06:57 – Skip Lineberg
What a great role model.

0:07:00 – Announcer

Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to ask for help or talk about money. Hey, it’s Skip here, and many listeners like you continue to ask me what do you need to continue to develop and build this show? Well, for context, it takes our team about 15 hours of work to produce each one of these packages of wisdom that we deliver to you in podcast form. Really, what we need as we enter season three of this show is funding To cover our costs.

So, in response, i formed a site on the Patreon platform where you can elect to become a supporting patron of the main thing podcast. Now there are three levels you might consider, ranging from $6 to $27 per month. It’s all safe and secure and you can explore the options at patreon dot com slash the main thing podcast. Now how will we use the funding? Funds provided by you and other patrons will be used to defray the costs of production, promotion, and our recurring technology expenses each month. In short, you will be helping to keep this pipeline of wisdom flowing. Thanks.

0:08:08 – Skip Lineberg
Marc, given that this is a short format podcast, it’s time for me to ask you that question that I’ve asked each and every wise guest: Marc Gorlin, what is the main thing you’ve learned in your lifetime, so far?

0:08:23 – Marc Gorlin
The main thing I’ve learned in my lifetime so far is that stories have power. People are sometimes surprised to hear that I studied journalism in college. But I would argue it’s a great choice for anybody who wanted to build something from nothing, because stories make people care and that can make all the difference.

0:08:46 – Skip Lineberg
Stories have power. I’m a believer. I’d love to hear you take us deeper into your main thing wisdom, Marc.

0:08:55 – Marc Gorlin
Sure, I mean, when you’re starting a company, stories are how you get your first customers, your first investors, your partners. It’s how you convince that first employee to take the leap and leave something they probably shouldn’t leave–to join your company, when there’s barely a company to join. Anything you do comes down to being able to understand and communicate with all different types of people. And you really do, when you’re hiring people and you’re getting investors, you have to context switch a lot. So in the early days of a startup, a story about what it could be and pinging that North Star … it ignites people’s imagination. It gets them invested. Stories bring your ideas to life, and it gives people something to run towards.

0:09:38 – Marc Gorlin
I started Roadie talking about that box of broken tile that I told you earlier and how to get bathroom renovation back on track and how an app like Roadie would have solved that problem for me.

When I tell that story, that’s how I bring it to life. But everybody tells their own tile story right back to me. And I find that people remember when they had a time they could have used Roadie, too. Your grill example. A kid’s jersey they left at Grandma’s house. Car keys that got left behind. I had one time, right after we started it, one of the actual examples I put in one of my pitch decks, was someone needed to get football tickets up to the University of Georgia for a football game. That happened with some people in the company, where they left it behind and used Roadie to bring it up there. So absolutely, I love seeing those stories come to life.

0:10:28 – Skip Lineberg
Marc your tile story–when you were telling that you made a movie play in my mind. You’re waiting on a box of tile. You’re pulled off on an overpass, atop an interstate. I could see a hot sunny day. I could feel a hot, dry breeze blowing on my face and the heat coming up off that interstate. You hear the sounds of the cars rushing by. You did the guy’s accent, told us where he was from. You really pulled us right into that scene, and you helped us to relate to you. Powerful story! I love stories. I think they help us relate, help us connect, and for me, I learn best by storytelling.

0:11:11 – Marc Gorlin
I agree. If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something … I mean to join your company, to give you money, to hire you, to buy Girl Scout cookies, to march in your Mardi Gras parade, whatever … look for a story you can tell to bring it to life for them. And I promise it’ll make the difference.

0:11:31 – Skip Lineberg
For sure. Well, Marc, as we wrap up here, would share with us what advice you might have for someone who’s just starting out with a big, exciting idea for a new venture?

0:11:45 – Marc Gorlin
Don’t let the assholes get you down. There’s a lot of people that are not going to like your idea, think it’s ugly. And you can take great, really objective criticism from them and figure out how to craft what the response is, because a lot of them might have value. But if you believe in something, think you can do something, you have to grow a thick skin. Time spent worrying about what the masses think … I mean, you want the masses to like your product, but what any individual sort of thinks about an idea is some wasted time after you’ve assessed what the content of their words are. You can take your company personally, but you’ve got to let some of that stuff roll off your back. It just mucks you down.

The other thing that I would say, as you’re building something, is: Perfect is the enemy of Done.

You want to get things out the door and then you can fix them. It’s much, much faster to put something that’s just a little broken out the door. And then figure out what it needs to be, especially if it’s a brand new product or company. We didn’t know what Roadie was supposed to be when it got out, so it’s easier to get it out, figure out what everybody yelled about, fix that, and then keep building. Versus trying to design this perfect temple of a product, when we didn’t even know what people wanted. So it’s better to not pretend to even know that. Get it out there and then iterate quickly.

0:13:04 – Skip Lineberg
For sure. Get that minimum viable prototype, that MVP, out there. Let folks evaluate it, listen to the feedback. Yeah, absolutely! Great advice, Marc. Both of those things… great advice.

Marc, I can’t thank you enough for coming on, making time for us to share your wisdom. It’s just been fantastic. It’s going to benefit many people. I know this is going to inspire many young entrepreneurs, so thank you for that.

0:13:34 – Marc Gorlin
It’s been awesome being here. I really appreciate you having me, Skip.

0:13:37 – Skip Lineberg
Marc, So long for now. Take good care.

0:13:41 – Marc Gorlin
Bye now.

0:13:43 – Announcer
Wow, that goes by incredibly fast, doesn’t it? Time flies when you’re hacking wisdom. I hope you’re left wanting more. Sink up with us again next time on The Main Thing… for nine more minutes of wisdom.

Transcribed by https://podium.page

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