Business Expert, Author And
The Founder Of Hatch
An entrepreneurial underdog since day one, raised in a broke, blue-collar family. Perceived as a dumb kid that was never given a chance. Although everyone doubted him, he believed in himself.
It all started 23 years ago, Zack’s grandma sent him a birthday check for 100 dollars, the same price of a lawnmower. That’s when Zack had an itch, an itch to do more with his life. At a time when his family couldn’t afford a new lawnmower, he took the check and bought a lawnmower.
Rather than just mow his lawn, he chose mow the lawns of his neighbors. In the lawn care world, as soon as you spot an ugly lawn, you’ve identified a potential customer. So, he walked up as a young 10 year old and knocked on the doors of those houses. “Hi, I’m Zack your neighbor, your lawn needs to be mowed, can I cut it for 15 bucks?” For the past 23 years, Zack has modeled his life the same way. Find the problem, do the job, get the cash.
If you don’t find the right target customer, you’d be just like Zack listening to his mom when he was in 7th grade. He was told he was a marvelous singer, by his mother. Taking that comment to heart, he thought he’d be a good candidate to join the Junior High School’s chorus. But, his mother wasn’t basing her opinion on any professional singing experience, she just did what all loving mothers do, and gave blind encouragement.
So, Zack went to the chorus audition, ready to blow the judges away with his brilliant singing, only to be stopped short by one of the judges who called his singing “terrible.” Instead of singing in front of someone who would give real feedback, Sharon Miller provided the love a mother does.
Business is different than a mother’s love. Zack needed the truth. One of the most important keys to business is getting in front of the right people. Zack’s mom, was not his target customer, so she didn’t give him valuable insight. Just like if you’re building an app to help chefs, you should only try to get feedback and insight from chefs who would use the product. Not your brother-in-law who considers himself a foodie.
Zack has hit rock bottom a lot. And not just in 7th grade learning he sucks at singing.
- He started an accelerator before they were overplayed and everywhere, raised cash from the team who started the Weather Channel and AutoTrader and a bunch of old white guys, invested in 13 companies and fell flat on his face. Basically losing all of their money from the fund.
- He tried throwing a national conference and lost $50k
Fast forward to 2010. Zack was growing a technology company and he didn’t know what to do next. Where to network, how to get more clients or even how to convince prospects he knew what he was talking about. And to be honest, he didn’t. Yet. He was fresh into his rejuvenated career in business after leaving the world of journalism.
Although he didn’t have a business degree or “business” skills, he had the street smarts. He was hungry, and willing and he immersed himself into the business world. Specifically, startups.
His business network started at 0. Slowly but surely, he was able to build meaningful relationships with powerful people. He was making a name for himself in the business community by hosting his own events and meetups.
This paid off when he became the youngest person on the Inside Business Power List and featured in Entrepreneur Magazine as a contributor to the rise of the Norfolk Startup Community.
He did this by listening, meeting and hustling. By learning from others and raising his hand when an opportunity arose. Zack knew that business would be tough, but if he stuck around patiently and went after his goals, he would accomplish them.
Zack helped build the startup community in Norfolk from ground zero. But, he noticed that a lot of the best companies started in Hampton Roads were leaving for other cities, and bringing the region’s best talent with them. So, he started traveling around the country other small business communities to see what they were doing to help facilitate entrepreneurship and growth for young companies.
Also, He started several meetups with different groups of people so that they could learn from each other and hopefully facilitate some growth in their perspective areas. One for entrepreneurs, one for designers, one for developers, etc. Then he thought, “What if we got all of these people into the same room, and held a business competition.” And then, Start Norfolk was born.
Start Norfolk was an event where people would pitch ideas they had for a business. Then a panel of judges would decide which ideas were best. From there. the winning ideas would build teams of designers, developers, marketers, etc. to bring that idea to life over the span of a few days.
Miller had hoped that the first event would bring in 50 people. To his surprise, 180 people showed up, and 40 different ideas were pitched. Zack organized 5 of these events over the course of the next few years. The event had thousands of people show up, and hundreds of businesses were pitched, some of which are still alive and thriving today.
After more and more companies started buying memberships to 1000 Four, Zack had another brilliant idea. He noticed that the majority of the companies joining 1000 Four were local to Southeastern Virginia. He thought about ways to expand into other communities around the country, and 1000 Four Communities (1FC) was born.
1FC gives organizations, schools, and cities across the country access to the resources and online community that will help them grow the businesses in their own communities.
- What’s your story
- What’s hatch?
- Tell us more about your accelerator?
- Why goals are important?
- Is it true people can achieve more goals if they write them down?
- Goal Vs. Vision
- What’s the roadmap to help setting the right goals then achieve those goals?
- How to validate a business idea or offer?
- Tell us more about the meaning of Anomaly
- How to standout in this crowded market?
- What’s 1000 four?
- How to build a business community online and improve it’s engagement?
- What’s working the best now for you to improve conversion?
- What’s the most membership challenges that you faced?
- Share with us some of the tools or software that build and scale your business efficiently?
- What’s your daily life and work routine looks like?
- What’s one marketing strategy that helped you the most in developing your business or in converting more clients?
- What are your other hobbies?
- Which mentor helped you the most in your business?
- What’s the best advice that you ever received?
- What are your top 3 favorite books?
- What makes you fulfilled?
- How can people contact you?