Mark Jennings is a marketing and technology specialist, currently coaching startups at the Incubator and Minc Tourism Accelerator. His resume is packed - he has launched new revolutionary new products for Twitter, built Glenlivet’s first crowdsourced (and fastest-selling) whiskey and created Shaken, the world's first direct-to-consumer cocktail service.
Hi Mark! Tell us a bit about yourself - who are you and what do you do at Minc?
I’m Irish but grew up in Scotland and, confusingly, have an English accent. I founded my first company at 19 years of age and have spent my entire career since either in startups - hustling, growing, making stuff happen, in corporations - helping them to be more startup-like, or connecting startups to big companies and investors - to see great people and ideas succeed.
I spent the last 10 years in or around the London tech startup scene and arrived in Sweden at the end of 2020 with my wife and three-year-old daughter. I’ve been coaching companies in the Incubator and MTA programmes for the last couple of months.
You have experience as a startup founder, mentor, head of marketing, and you have started your own freelance company. What motivates you to keep evolving career-wise?
I’m like a butterfly, I love new things and am easily drawn to ideas and people that have the potential for impact, and so my career has been less focussed on one specific discipline and more ongoing deep into a subject area to discover it, then moving on. Now I feel I’m in a position to bring all of those different interests together to help brave new startups change the world.
How did you get into working with startups in the first place?
My father was a doctor and my mother ran the practice. I learnt all about ‘phone voice’, invoicing, customer service, etc at the feet of my parents, but I also saw how hard life is when you run a business. My first venture was a car washing scheme where I locked in the customers (neighbours) with a special deal, winning me a lot of business but few friends. I was 12 and learnt my first important lesson. Since then I've always been close to the entrepreneurial scene.
Next week, you will host a workshop about marketing basics. Who should join it and why?
Marketing is one of those subjects that everyone assumes is easy because they all see the tip of the iceberg. The reason Google and Facebook are so wealthy is because the reality is that we are all pretty bad at advertising. I also feel like there is a lot of ‘things you are meant to know about marketing and I find many people embarrassed to ask about the fundamentals, as if they might look silly… But why should anyone know about marketing unless they have studied it? I love to demystify marketing and show the science and the art.
If you could only choose one marketing tip to give to startup founders, based on your experience - what would it be?
Truly get to know your customer. Adore them, visualise them, dream about them, and then build what they need (not just what they ask for)... Any startup that does this is more likely to succeed.
Lastly, what do you like most about Minc?
So much! It was Per (at MTA) that invited me in to begin with and he is just awesome, he lives and breathes the attitude startups need - get sh*t done. The rest of my colleagues in Minc have such passion and experience that I feel as a team we can truly make this incredible region world-famous for startups.
You can find out more about me at clicktoexit.com
Amazing to have you at Minc, Mark!
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