Michael Serbinis has started and sold an incredible portfolio of companies. He’s raised over $100 million and enjoyed exits all the way up to $3 billion.
What drives someone to this level of entrepreneurship? What empowers them to not only build one hyper-successful fast-growth startup but to do it again and again? What’s the one thing they wish they could tell their younger selves about what’s coming?
Michael Serbinis recently graced the Dealmakers Podcast with his presence where I interviewed him on getting started, what he learned working with Elon Musk, the art of dealmaking and what you do when you sell your business for more money than you need to spend in a lifetime.
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
The Nerd Olympics
Serbinis’ parents immigrated from Greece to Canada and settled just outside of Toronto where Michael was born and raised. This was well before the Toronto of today, which enjoys the biggest growth in tech jobs, and more cranes raising tall towers than any other place on the planet.
As a kid, Michael liked to break things and put them back together. He enrolled in a science project at the International Science and Engineering Fair, which e likes to call the ‘Nerd Olympics’. He won, and that gave him a gateway to not only working with NASA and rockets, but also taught him about taking on big problems.
It was presenting at another engineering conference while at university in Toronto that Michael got noticed by Microsoft, which turned into his first job.
Diving Into Entrepreneurship
But instead of going on to pretty easily land a high- paying job of his choice, he took up an offer a friend of his made to him on the phone during his senior year—an offer that meant he ended up sleeping on a couch and working like crazy for a no-name company with no funding, and no pay.
That friend was Kimbal Musk. Together with his brother, Elon Musk, they plowed into what would become Zip2. The first weekend alone meant 72 hours of building and creating, but it all paid off: Zip2 was acquired by AltaVista for $300 million cash.
1+1 = 1,000,000
Sitting at the Wayne Gretzky Diner in Edmonton, Michael Serbinis accidentally spilled coffee on the guy next to him. Two weeks later, they were building a business together.
They believed in a future where they wouldn’t rely on Fedex and document couriers and worked together to build one of the first cloud companies, DocSpace.
They set out on a sprint to become the 800lb gorilla in the market. Michael applied one of his key learnings from his days with Zip2, which was around building culture and nurturing the team involved. He found building a company instead of just a product or technology, was just way more exciting, and fulfilling.
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