Marc Gorlin (ABJ ’95) is a Bulldog 100 regular.
This marks the sixth consecutive year he will be honored. But 2020 represents a new level of achievement for the serial entrepreneur: two of his companies have landed among the top 100 fastest-growing Bulldog businesses.
Kabbage, which simplifies the loan process for small businesses, made its Bulldog 100 debut in 2015 at No. 1. Kabbage remained in the top five the next three years, clocking in at No. 3 in 2016, No. 2 in 2017 and No. 5 in 2018. Kabbage ranked No. 38 in 2019.
Marc’s newest company, Roadie, connects drivers with businesses to provide faster and cheaper delivery solutions. Roadie cracked the list for the first time in 2020.
On Feb. 8, the Bulldog 100 Celebration will be held for the first time in Athens—in the Sanford Stadium West Endzone, just steps from where Marc took classes at Grady College. And Marc will leave the event with twice the hardware—one award for each of his children, Lily and Mills, to carry to the car.
We asked Marc to reflect on his success and the moments that were most critical for his transformation from journalism student to Bulldog 100 CEO. Here were his top three …
1. Dad’s Advice
Find a deal, not a job.
Leaving UGA with a degree in newspaper journalism in 1995, Marc received a piece of advice from his father that would alter his life journey: find a deal, not a job.
Marc’s dad encouraged him that post-graduation, with no spouse, mortgage or car payment, was the best time to take risks and push his limits. Instead of settling for a safe job, Marc set out into the world, confident in his ability to find the next great idea and use his Grady-given storytelling abilities to attract investors and customers.
“A lot of being an entrepreneur is telling stories and convincing people,” Marc says. “To make companies go, you’ve got to persuade your first customer, your first investors, your first employees to join something new.”
2. Time with Mimi
Take action before the moment’s gone.
Amid the day-to-day grind, one can easily overlook important relationships. Marc’s experience did just the opposite: he took six years off to care for his grandmother, Mimi, until she passed at age 100.
“Sometimes, the universe makes space for you to do what you need to do when you only have a certain window to do it in,” Marc says. “Those are the life opportunities you really need to take advantage of because you can’t get them back.”
After Mimi passed, Marc returned to the entrepreneurial world and co-founded Kabbage in 2008. But he did not forget the lesson he learned, and still strives to make space for his family. He understands time is finite and windows of opportunity do not last forever.
3. Roadside Realization
Be a figure-it-outer.
One Thursday in 2014, Marc was on the road to his Gulf Coast condo, where a water leak sparked a bathroom renovation. This was tile day.
He received word that the replacement tiles arrived broken and new ones would not arrive from Birmingham until Monday. Marc’s plans were shot. Sitting off an exit near Montgomery, Alabama, Marc watched as cars zipped by.
“There’s bound to be somebody leaving Birmingham right now heading toward Montgomery who would be more than happy to throw a box of tiles in their trunk,” Marc says, recounting that day. “That’s when it hit me that there’s an unbelievable, untapped transportation map that already exists made up of all of our personal vehicles.”
And just like that, an idea—and a company—began.
“Be aware of what’s going on around you,” Marc says. “Then, be a figure-it-outer and find solutions.”
By the time the tiles arrived, Marc had an entire business plan written. Oh, and his shower looks great now too.