Director of Alumni Programs Frances Beusse (BS ’06) sat down with Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95), serial entrepreneur and owner of Kabbage, Inc., the 2015 No. 1 Bulldog 100 business to discuss his latest venture, Roadie, the first neighbor to neighbor shipping network.
Say you’re making a Roadie delivery from Atlanta to Athens. Describe your perfect day in the Classic City.
Well, the day obviously starts with me rolling into Athens with a package to deliver. I love meeting new people and the Roadie community includes more than its fare share of Bulldog fans, so that’s always fun. After that, I like to walk around campus and stop at the bookstore to get my kids something – you can never have enough UGA gear. Stopping by the Grady College is a must and Dean Charles Davis (MA ’92) usually has good stories to share. Finally, it’s hard to get me out of town without visiting The Grill. I used to enjoy that fine establishment much later in the evening during my days in Athens, but these day I go old school and drop in for a BBQ Burger platter with some feta fries and a chocolate milkshake. That always makes for a great day.
The start-up world is continuing to gain speed in the business world. As an alumnus, what advice do you have for UGA alumni or students looking to break into the start-up business?
Start early and start often. Don’t be afraid of failure. Coming out of school is your best time to take risks. Most students aren’t coming out of school with a spouse, mortgage payments or kids. Take chances and don’t be afraid to break things. My Dad always told me, “Don’t get a job, find a deal.” Whether you’re starting a company or just figuring out the right career to begin with, it’s important to find your deal.
With all of your business ventures throughout your career, you’ve met and worked with some pretty accomplished people. Who is the coolest? Celebrities count, too.
The real superstars in my world are the people on my team. They’re the ones that propel the business forward and I’m fortunate to have the job where I get to talk about all the awesome stuff they’re building everyday. Outside of that, meeting Steve Case, founder of AOL, was pretty cool. We met this summer as he toured the country on his start-up tour called Rise of the Rest. What he’s doing is very exciting in our community. But, I’d have to say my favorite is Chris Bridges, better known as Ludacris in the music world, Roadie’s newest partner. This guy is a Grammy Award-winning artist, he’s about to start filming Fast & Furious 8, and he’s so down to earth, and easy to work with. Not to mention that getting to know him has been seriously great for my street cred.
What did it meant to you to be the owner of the No. 1 Bulldog 100 fastest growing business in 2015?
It was a huge honor. There are so many great Bulldog businesses out there, so to come out on top was an unexpected but crazy awesome honor. I love that it was the first time someone from the Grady College has won the award. That made it even more special to me, and based on his reaction, Dean Davis was pretty excited about it, too.
As a UGA student, what impacted you the most? Any student groups, notable professors or light bulb moments that helped to launch you?
It’s not every day that a tech entrepreneur comes out of journalism school, but I think that experience had a huge impact on me. It helped develop my natural curiosity for people and for how things work in the world. That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about. Conrad Fink was one of my favorite professors in J-school. He taught me to ask great questions and narrow in on the essence of an idea or concept. He probably exhausted more than one box of red pens getting that point across, and for that I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
Your career path has had lots of twists and turns. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Assuming Roadie’s partnership with Ludacris continues to go well, I plan to start my own hip-hop career under the stage name Lil’ Roadie and I hope to fill stadiums worldwide and make billions. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll be thankful to be running the most innovative company in the shipping industry and helping make the world a better, greener, friendlier place.