Faces of Entrepreneurship: Hans Marshalleck, bndwgn.co

Hans Marshalleck is the founder and CEO of bndwgn.co, a web and smartphone application revolutionizing event and travel bookings via link-in-bio. His entrepreneurial journey began after meeting his co-founder Lawrence Clark at StartupBus in 2019, leading to the creation of bndwgn. Hans is a seasoned entrepreneur, having graduated from StartupBus, Founder Gym, Cohort 4, Bubble Immerse Program, Celo Pathways Accelerator, and GUST Mission Launch. Apart from his ventures, Hans is a dedicated father to his daughter and an advocate for autism awareness. With a diverse background, including roles as a Computer Technician and Network Engineer for the City of Mount Vernon, Hans brings a wealth of experience to his ventures, including blam money incorporated, yesiya.co, and Revitalize.app.


What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Hans Marshalleck: An opportunity to scratch an itch, contribute to society, and bring something amazing to life

Tell us about your first experience with entrepreneurship.
HM: At Wolmer’s Boys (high school) I would create “cliff notes in biology and history with drawings” make copies on my mom’s photocopier and sell them at school to help people pass examinations.

What is your company’s origin story?
HM: Being a travel planner and groom was not the best experience when I got married in 2009. That started the itch as they say. My family was tied to me as the organizer and were calling me to make changes. The idea that everyone could come on the trip but pay and book separately was the driving force for the idea. Much of group travel is still done by phone even today, but some startups like AllFly are tackling this problem.

What is the biggest reason you started your business?
HM: I have always felt that video would provide a new vertical for travel discovery and purchases. It has been my focus since the beginning and still makes me excited.

What did those early days look like and teach you?
HM: I was early but under-resourced. I lacked mentors, engineering, and friends. We were able to build traction and pitch at Voyager HQ’s Aviation Night – then COVID decimated the entire industry.

What do you wish you knew when you started?
HM: I wish I knew how hard and lonely the journey would have been ahead of time.

Is there anything you would do differently?
HM: In hindsight, we could not plan for something like a pandemic. We could only adapt. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, allowing us to retool and refocus to be agile and resilient in case something like COVID returns. We were able to incorporate crypto payments. We were able to re-imagine travel using NFTs for airline tickets and work on other innovations that only came about because of the pandemic. We also had to plan to keep the business model lean in case a major contraction occurs again.

What does “success” look like for you?
HM: Success is attempting something and learning from the experience. So, I would say every “failure” is a “success”. Success is also represented by family, friends, and community. To illustrate the community side, at the StartupBus, I went from being a participant to joining the planning committee. There as a community, we helped raise funds for the Startup ecosystem in New Orleans during COVID.

We’d love to hear your biggest, boldest dream.
HM: To lift 1.7 billion people out of poverty by providing them with foundational identification through tech. A roundup wallet app installed on a smartphone that allows anyone to pay for their ID in micropayments over time is my solution. It would take a few smart people from the fintech community to build or modify an existing solution and apply it in underserved markets.

What do you think will help you achieve it?
HM: We simply need believers and achievers. I named it Jubilee Identity, blogged about it on Substack, posted about it on Twitter, and made a deck and a 12-minute documentary. It is a pivot of an idea from Propelify, which went viral in 2016.

What is your superpower as an entrepreneur?
HM: Faith. This is on two levels. I have an unshakable faith in my vision as an entrepreneur. I also count my personal faith as guiding me through these impossible times.

What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
HM: My proudest moment was being able to pitch at StartupBus in 2019, after sourcing a developer remotely to build an MVP. It took everything out of me to get to that point. Bndwgn would not exist today if I did not “risk it all”. Watching everything collapse in COVID was dark, the entire industry suffered and some never recovered. It was hard watching friends. I miss Voyager HQ.

Share a key high and a key low from your journey if you can.
HM: A key high moment was placing second place in Herox’s Airbus in the Metaverse Competition in 2022. We won $5000 for extending our vision for travel into any Metaverse using NFTs. This can be really huge now that Apple Vision Pro has launched.

The lows have been the inability to get enough funding and hearing all the no’s from various programs and funders.

What are your personal driving principles, your top values?
HM: To quote Stan Lee: “If you have an idea that you genuinely believe is good don’t let some idiot talk you out of it. If it means something to you try to do it. If you can take pride in it after you have done it. Do it as well as you can. You will be glad you did.” I think bndwgn is an amazing startup it straddles identity, privacy, video, and fintech and can be a defining force in the creator economy. We just have to see the vision through. My top value is personal privacy.

How have your personal principles and values shaped your company’s values and principles?
HM: When talking to our customers we found that they did not trust current platforms when booking from video. Bndwgn seeks to give each traveler granular privacy controls, leaving them 100% in charge of their information.

Travel startups have become hard because of online privacy rules like GDPR and Know Your Customer regulations. We seek to turn the entire approach to privacy in the opposite direction and exceed the norms by giving users full control.

What’s it like to work alone or with your partners?
HM: I am OK working alone but I enjoy working with partners even more. We are at the earliest stages, but we have held a lot of meetings to set up relationships with partners. We cannot wait to get the ball rolling.

What role does mentorship play in your world (as a mentor or mentee)? Tell us about what makes mentorship valuable to you and your business.
HM: I was fortunate to be mentored by Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Mentors pre-Covid and have taken mentorship to heart. I was chosen to mentor CUNY startup teams with Zahn Center and I am enjoying the entire experience of sharing my industry knowledge with student entrepreneurs. Mentorship gives both parties a chance to learn from each other and it is an enjoyable experience.

Can you share some insights into the market or industry you operate in?
HM: Travel has bounced back but is highly regulated and closed. It is almost impossible to navigate. Additionally, many people attempt to solve the same problems year after year with little success. However, the travel industry is so big, that many people are able to find success with a simple niche – like traveling with pets, the phenomenon of “Slow” Travel or Remote Worker Travel niche. Niche in travel can be found all the time and is one of the things that make trying a travel startup so great!

How have you navigated challenges and changes in the market landscape?
HM: To be in travel you have to “move like water”- Remain fluid, share, and collaborate. I would like bndwgn to continue focusing on engineering and the customer. Change is the only constant. You have to live with it as a travel founder. It is also important not to get too tied up in any one idea.

Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?
HM: I learned a lot from Focus Course with Sean Blanc and Hey Creator Seminars. The key takeaways that use to frame my day is that the night before list the two most important things you want to accomplish on a piece of paper. (Really big objectives) and put them on a sticky note. Then lay out your clothes for the next day. That’s it. Get a good rest and tackle those two objectives.

How do you manage the work-life balance as an entrepreneur?
HM: Early on my journey, I had no work-life balance. The “rush” of my startup was all I cared about. Then as we experienced COVID, I got a chance to re-skill and re-train myself with courses and podcasts. Lean into family time. Do more thought work. Do less busywork. Learn to delegate and hold people accountable.

What strategies have you found effective in maintaining your well-being?
HM: Rest. Exercise. and a spiritual connection. Really spend time with family. Work will always be there.

Where do you turn for inspiration?
HM: I read a lot from many different sources, and then try to apply those insights to my industry. I have an internal framework that I apply to idea generation. I am working on a custom ChatGPT bot to extend this approach so anyone can use it.

Building and sustaining a business involves overcoming various challenges. Can you share a specific moment where your entrepreneurial resilience was tested, and how did you navigate through it to ensure the sustainability of your business?
HM: I was recently the victim of a trademark scam. I was approached by a dubious company. I did my own research (wrong move) and ended up signing up for an initial package. The next day they were demanding more money. Red Flag. With our limited resources, this could have really hurt our startup.

What lessons did you learn from that experience?
HM: I documented everything and let the authorities handle it. The next go round I will be determined to talk to my legal team earlier in the process. I got my funds back, so it was a learning experience. I was really kicking myself internally because I thought this type of thing would never affect me.

Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or words of wisdom to get through the tough days?
HM: This too shall pass – from my mom.

What is a problem that keeps you up at night?
HM: Foundational Identity and the interplay between cross-border finance, dollarization, and inflation. A key problem in emerging markets is the lack of viability or sustainability. Billions flow from the US, Canada, UK, and EU but get lost in fees, inflation, grift, and poor controls. We are on the brink of major stabilization due to the wide availability of smartphones, emerging infrastructure like Skylink seems to be providing. Solving this conundrum will help lift all boats and make life better for all.

How do you think about helping others through your work?
HM: If we are able to launch and execute, I think it will encourage other underrepresented founders to keep going. The key is to give back as much as I can.

Have you faced any significant crises in your business, and how did you manage and overcome them?
HM: We are too early, just getting started – unless you count the crash from COVID. We have been resilient and have not given up.

What advice do you have for fellow (and aspiring) entrepreneurs building and leading teams?
HM: You need to simply do three things. Listen (customers, mentors, team), execute, and tell your story.

What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as – as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
HM: I want to humbly say, I just want a chance to fail. I would like to have some of my entrepreneurial ideas succeed. Time will tell. I would not want to go beyond that because as I was taught, let the work I have done speak for me.


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