Michael Marra talks about Entre, the social network for entrepreneurs, he has built. They help connect entrepreneurs to each other and the right resources to start and grow their businesses through their app and events.
Join the Rainmakers Network on LinkedIn.
Guest - Michael Marra
Host - Carl Grant
Producer - Seth Grant
Welcome to Rainmakers! I'm here with Michael Mara CEO of entre. Welcome, Michael.Michael Mara:
Carl, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited.Carl Grant:
Yeah. So tell us what Entre is and why why it exists.Unknown:
Sure, yeah. I mean, this, this came about through really my own struggles, trying to connect and meet other like minded people, entrepreneurs, investors, freelancers, etc. When I first got started as an entrepreneur five, six years ago, I didn't know anyone, no, no family was an entrepreneur, none of my friends were, I had no idea what I was doing. So I was looking for this community in this place to go to, and it didn't exist. And I was like, Well, how the heck are people starting businesses? like where do they go? Like, there has to be a place for this? Like, how do they find co founders and all this stuff. And what I found was, it's it's just completely fragmented. There's so many silos of small, exclusive paid private entrepreneur groups, communities, all of that, but no one really brought it to the 21st century. And no one really created a free, mobile and web map for all of these entrepreneurs throughout the world to come together in one place. And not just entrepreneurs, but people who support entrepreneurs to be there as well. And really, what we're focused on is just building this younger, modern, new, next generation business networking platform. So that's at the core of what entre is, you know, our focus is, you know, building the platform for everything an entrepreneur needs to be just in one place. And we're starting mostly with networking and the social aspect of that, and bringing people together. But we're going to expand into a lot of other things, through our partnerships through integrations, and a lot of other resources that we are planning to build out as well.Carl Grant:
Seems like these things come and go. So there was a platform back in the early days of the tech revolution called garage Comm. I don't know if you familiar with that, or you've heard about it. But that was it was founded by a guy named Guy Kawasaki. And that was kind of the place startups went back in the day. And then it kind of it kind of waned. And then there were others. There was a, there was a group in the DC area called the netrunner. organization. And, you know, but once again, it can't kind of run its course. So do you think entre is something that's here to stay, and will have a lasting impact beyond your management? I mean, so I think it's the founders of that move on in and then there's not a succession plan is, is something that will, will be a community that will outlive you?Michael Mara:
Yeah, I mean, I fully believe as we grow, we can not only become the largest network of entrepreneurs, but the largest platform and software for entrepreneurs in general. And just a true company that embraces entrepreneurship to its fullest. There's so many things that industries and sectors within entrepreneurship and just business in general, that are really, you know, can be streamlined. And when you look at what is happening right now, the reason that most of these other platforms you named a couple I mean, there's there's so many people that have tried this before. From co founders, lab startups calm there's so many entrepreneur organizations like eo and YPO. And why you see and you name it, there's, you know, someone who's tried to build an entrepreneur community before. And if you look at what Brad Feld has done with startup communities, and tech stars and all this stuff, they've done it well. For the most part, the problem for all these platforms is most of them were focused on startups and tech companies, and excluded all the online businesses and online business entrepreneurs and all the solo pours, and all the freelancers and all the content creators out there, which actually make up the majority of entrepreneurs throughout the world. So if you look at just the startup ecosystem, they're not there's not really that many people around the world in that ecosystem. Until very recently, right? Same thing with entrepreneurship. Now, there's well over 500 million entrepreneurs around the world and I think it's actually over a billion, but there's not a lot of data to to back this up, if you look at just how much platforms like Shopify and Wix and Squarespace have been growing, and Fiverr, and Upwork, all of these companies are billion dollar companies now. And they're all providing solutions and software for entrepreneurs to build businesses online. But there's no place for all these people to come together to actually network and meet each other in start and get going. They're using slack channels, and Facebook groups and also other stuff. So what we're doing is just opening up all the doors and, and just making this new modern platform in a sense, what LinkedIn wouldn't be doing if they were starting over right now. Because the nine to five corporate lifestyle is dying. Big time.Carl Grant:
Yes, I was on your site a little bit. Before we started, and I was looking, you have an institute as well. So I'd like to hear what that's all about. And then I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you, you said, kids are spending $100,000 plus in four years to learn entrepreneurship from professors that have never started a business. And he called it the biggest scam of all time. And so it reminds me of my daughter, who went to college to study business, and she started a an e commerce business while she was in college. And after three years, she she said these professors are not teaching me think anything relevant to what I'm doing. And, and so she she left, and she started doing online classes related to the stuff that she needed to learn. And like you just said, she launched her business on Shopify, and she's off providing for herself right now through it. So anyways, I know that's a lot right there. But tell me about the Institute. And then tell me about kind of the genesis for this. And is this, you know, for people like my daughter?Michael Mara:
Yes. So I actually think there's actually a different company that's called entre Institute, which is usually No, no, so I've actually heard. Yeah, that's actually not from from people that I've talked to. It's not that legitimate, either. But, but anyway, so we, But to your point, we 100% want to get into education and E learning. It's, it's actually what I started this with, when I started building out this community actually started with resources and courses and all that stuff with a membership site. And what I realized was, this is much bigger than just that. And if we focus on education, now, we're going to miss out on building the network in the community. So the the focus is on the community, it's on the net, building, the network and the audience first. However, we want 100% want to get into education, education is extremely important to me, I think there's a lot of nonsense going on right now in higher education. And I think we're going to be able to completely revolutionize it as we as we build out our platform. So yes, we want to, it's going to look something similar to kind of like, you know, masterclass, or these other elearning platforms, but, you know, specifically focusing in on entrepreneurship and business, and then we'll get into tech and all that other stuff. But yeah, we want to really, like we're going to be getting into education very heavily. And we have actually intentions of building out, you know, an accredited university and getting actually certified for that, so that we can actually start even competing with with some of these other universities. And how we want to do it is actually more of like just, you know, built into our premium membership, and a monthly subscription. So instead of paying, you know, 30, 40,$50,000 a year, for school, you're paying like 1000 bucks a month. And if you don't live on campus, it's like 500 bucks a month, or even less. And if you just want to do the online university, it's even cheaper. So we want to turn everything into a much more affordable, you know, education platform, and then provide all the resources that people need to actually get going. So we'll be having a lot of like, you know, scholarships or accelerators, where people will get like free tuition in the sense, although I don't really like the word tuition. But yeah, we really want to transform our higher education and I think there's student loan debt is one of the biggest problems that I'm focused on solving. On top of, you know, as as we grow, it's a it's a very big pain point. For me personally, and something that I see is affecting a massive amount of people that don't really even understand what it is and how, how large it is and how much that there Getting into but debt and student loan debt specifically, probably holds more people back of becoming entrepreneurs than almost anything else. Because there's just no way they can leave their jobs to do anything when they have so much debt that they have to pay back. And there's no way out of it. So yeah, I mean, we'll see what happens over the coming years with it. But we will 100% are definitely focused on on getting into that as we continue going out our platform.Carl Grant:
So when you launch this thing over two years ago, I don't imagine you knew that many entrepreneurs, how did you go out building this network of people?Michael Mara:
Yes, so it really started back in, like 2016 2017. ish. And I just started originally networking online, right, Instagram, Facebook groups, all that stuff. And then, because I was in Pittsburgh, and there wasn't, there's, there's a lot more going on now than when I started. But I wanted to meet other entrepreneurs, and I just started doing events. And they were just like free entrepreneur networking events, I would buy, you know, I, you know, I was starting my company with nothing. And I was just buying beer and pizza and stuff, like, add these events, not charging anyone losing money on every event, just so I could meet other entrepreneurs and bring people together. And it was it was that that kind of led to all these different partnerships with CO working spaces. So I started in Pittsburgh, and the CO working space was like, Hey, you should do these at our other locations and different cities. And let me introduce you to people in New York. So I went to New York didn't know anyone started doing events there met a ton of people, like right off the bat, I met like the co founder of Venmo, I met one of my partners, and he had a connection at Microsoft. And we started doing events at Microsoft every month. And then it just like was this massive snowball effect. And then over the next, like, couple years, we started doing events and 12 other cities. And I met 1000s of 1000s of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and angel investors. And that's kind of how things got rolling. And most of the people on our team, most of my investors, advisors, everybody has come through these events. And through this networking, that, you know, I've been, you know, doing over the last few years. And it's just been a lot of just planting seeds everywhere. And now they're all growing. So it's been, it's been a little bit more difficult, you know, virtually, but he ended with us doing our virtual events, and, you know, continuing to do a lot of stuff. And now we're rolling out our own, you know, virtual venue, room software on top of our app, it's gonna be great to just do our virtual events on our own platform now as well. So we're really excited for the continuous networking we're going to be able to do, and you'll be the platform to enable a lot of networking going forward.Carl Grant:
So if I'm connected to a lot of entrepreneurs, as I think I mentioned to you, so as I push this thing out, if an entrepreneur is listening, and they want to join your community, where can they go? And how do they sign up?Michael Mara:
Yes, so our sites just join https://joinentre.co/ just like entrepreneur ntrp. nd they can sign up for you here. Or if they just look up ntre in the app stores, they'l be able to find it and dow load it for free. And like I was saying, the whole point of t is, of what we're doin is to make entrepreneurship a cessible to anyone anywhere, so hey can get all the basic r sources and community that they ill need to start and be succ ssful as an entrepreneur for fre as long as they have a cess to the internet.Carl Grant:
So when you started this you you didn't have the like entre University vision in mind, or did youMichael Mara:
I've actually had to dial back my vision a lot. It's one of those things that I've learned that I can't do everything all at once. Like, if you looked at my original business plan, I wanted to launch you know, university marketplace, you know, co work like our own offices and all like pick up our own real estate and do all this stuff, you know, within a few years and you know, it's just like, it's one of those things where patience is such an important thing. As an entrepreneur to understand that if you are truly doing big, big things, it is going to take time and you have to just you know, be alone For that ride, and just to be consistent and persistence through all the ups and downs, and that's one of the reasons why our logo is kind of like the way that it is. Because, you know, it represents represents the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, this stuff is not easy.Carl Grant:
Yeah I see it goes u andMichael Mara:
It's, you know, it's not easy. 75% of entrepreneurs have some form of mental health, you know, issue. And it's, it's something that, you know, having a supportive community there to talk to, and just, you know, feel like, understand what you're going through. And being there for you, is so, so important. So it's just as much as you know, helping people start their businesses as it is just giving them support, and people to talk to, that are going through the same things as them. Because it's, it's tricky. And especially if you're starting out, you have no idea what you're doing, you're in a small town, or you're not in a major city, and your family is not really supportive, and your friends are also entrepreneurs, you're often you know, on your own, and you have a million questions you have no one to talk to, and it can be very, very lonely. And you can, you know, go through your own, you know, inner struggles. So, I think it's really important to be able to have access to talk to people. So that's, you know, part of it and yeah, anyone like I'm always on the app, obviously, and people can reach out to me on there. And we're always open to even if you're not an entrepreneur, yet, your student, whatever, you know, you're you're more than welcome to jump in and learn and grow with with our community as well.Carl Grant:
Normally, I asked for advice for younger listeners, but I'm going to encourage instead, the young listeners who are listening that want to know more about Michael's story and in his journey to to join the entre app, or go on to join entre.com. Right, and engage with Michael there. Alright, so Michael Mara, CEO and founder of Entre thank you so much for joining us on Rainmakers. And if you like what you've heard today, please subscribe and share it with your friends. Thanks for joining us, Michael.Michael Mara:
Appreciate it, Carl. Thanks so much.