Marc Sparks: 60 Start-Ups and Counting

Marc Sparks is a Dallas-based serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author. He is best known as a venture capitalist and for his venture capital firm, Timber Creek Capital. During his career, he has been involved in launching or running more than 60 start-up companies. Moreover, Sparks is a also the author ofThey Can’t Eat You, a book which discusses his unorthodox path in business.

According to Sparks, writing his book was difficult because he had to delve into the struggles the he faced at times. However, Sparks believes that he learned a great deal from those struggles, which helped him forge ahead and found the successful businesses which made him wealthy.

According to Sparks, when it comes to investing in a start-up, he does not simply look at the financial statement, he is also keenly interested in and participates in shaping the culture of the organization. This factor, to his mind, is just as important as a sound strategy when it comes to the long-term success of a business.

With most companies he invests in, Sparks is also very concerned with the quality of customer service. He believes that most companies view customer service, and by extension their customers, as a kind of nuisance they need to endure in order to continue making money. He is fond of Sam Walton’s famous observation about their really being only one boss, who can fire everyone from the CEO down—the customer.

Sparks attributes much of his success to not being afraid of losing. He believes that conquering your fears is an essential step to learning how to take risks. He also emphasizes the need for urgency, which he calls “Sparks Speed.” According to Sparks, these qualities, in addition to positive character traits such as honesty and respect, are guaranteed to lead to success.

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