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Fireside chat with Mark Scalise

Who is Mark?

I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. Growing up, I loved being outside and playing sports. My mom ran a business in our town, so I was exposed to local entrepreneurship at a young age.

That was a great experience because it showed me how small businesses can have a big positive impact on a local community. I am fascinated by the intersection of public policy & economics – I studied Government at Harvard, then started my career working on Wall Street. As a trader, I was able to participate in the inner-workings of our financial system, where I got to see how technology was rapidly changing the world we lived in.

Wall St. felt far from Main St. for me, so I went back to business school and left with a goal of finding ways to leverage technology to help local communities.

Our mission at Motil is to use technology to help entrepreneurs start, run, and grow businesses.

Tell us more about your role in Motil Inc

I founded the company that turned into Motil in 2019. I view my role as CEO as consisting of two main functions: team builder & capital allocator. We have been fortunate to build a fantastic team bringing their experience working for companies like Quickbooks, NASA, and Toptal to help us build great products that our customers love.

Our team makes my job a lot of fun – we can invest in exciting projects that will help us fulfill our mission to our customers while growing our business.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

The most difficult part of my job is managing the second derivative of our growth (how quickly the rate of change of our business is growing itself). I think we are all used to charts with smooth lines but sometimes we can have step function changes as we scale, which can be difficult to manage. For example, doubling our headcount or 10x’ing our user base comes with added operational complexities.

The most rewarding part is working with a team on a product that makes a difference. If we do our job right, we should have done something we can be proud of. Having that opportunity (even if we fail) makes it fun to come to work every day.

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

I would change my mindset but not the path. When I first started, I thought careers were linear and that I would be in my first job my entire career.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

Let the best idea win… until we experiment… then invest in the best result. I think this is a helpful way to approach problem solving with a team of smart people. Most people spend a lot of time on the idea phase and less on the testing or execution. We hope to get to the execution quickly and spend most of our time and energy there.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

We believe that the shift away from traditional work will continue to gain momentum across all verticals. During the pandemic, new business formations were at record levels, with a third of US workers working for themselves. We believe this is a fundamental shift in how people work that will continue to accelerate in the midst of unpredictable global events (such as a pandemic), persisting through both strong & weak business climates.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business

As a result of the pandemic: remote work, E-commerce adoption, and mobile payments. We have two primary customer profiles: established business owners and people starting businesses (or freelancing) for the first time. For both groups, the pandemic created an environment where customers are more likely to use their phones to book, schedule, and pay for goods and services.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

The Dream Machine – Mitchell Waldrop
This is about the history of computing – the author also wrote a book called Complexity that is one of my favorites and changed how I think about the world.

Turn the Ship Around! – L. David Marquett
My older brother recommended this one to me about leadership through empowerment on a submarine. Its a fascinating read for managers and leaders.

The Shadow Rising – Robert Jordan
My younger brother got me hooked on the Wheel of Time – I am only on book 4 but can’t wait to finish (I think it is 14 books in total)

Expecting Better – Emily Oster
My wife and I just had our first child. This book was incredibly helpful. The author is an economist who helps explain the data around pregnancy and childbirth.

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