Mike Lee is a Silicon Valley born entrepreneur who loves meeting new people and helping companies with cool and innovative projects. The company he founded, Manticore, is a product consulting company that specializes in omni-channel solutions. They help businesses develop their go-to-market plan, product launch, channel sales expansion, and product marketing. Mike also hosts a podcast, itsMikeLee, interviewing entrepreneurs and industry professionals chatting about their professional and personal journeys.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
ML: To me entrepreneurship is really just a mindset. It’s someone who wants to take something into their own hands and shape it—to turn ideas into forms, and make something that provides value to those around them. Entrepreneurs are willing to endure the rough patches of starting a business—and the bumps along the way—because what we are growing is a part of us. Entrepreneurs never stop learning.
How did your company come to be?
ML: When I first started my company, I was building websites in high school for some extra cash to buy my first car. I went to a private school so there were a plethora of parents who owned businesses and were open to the idea of having me do them (I was doing websites for cheap back then). This helped me build a portfolio and grow my brand. Several years later, my mentor Jamal Newborn (@jamalnewborn_) gave me an opportunity to expand my business into the realm of design and print. By then I was working in rack and stack storage at Hitachi because I was studying computer engineering at San Jose State but I wasn’t seeing the results of the projects I was working on, whereas in my own business, I got to see the fruits of my labor—I made something out of nothing and saw projects through from nothing to something. That was my a-ha moment.
What keeps you motivated during this time?
ML: My family keeps me motivated and always moving. I’ve worked to provide for them since I started this company and they are my reason to continue on.
What is a quote or some words of wisdom that help get you through the tough days?
ML: At Manticore we live by the phrase: “Don’t Outsource your Destiny.” It means your destiny is in your own hands and not someone else’s. So don’t expect other people to have the same drive and motivation as you.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
ML: Personally, I want to be a resource to my friends and family to help inspire them to do more. It doesn’t have to be entrepreneurial. I want to help people figure out what drives them—to find that sweet spot between something that is personally fulfilling and brings value to this world.
Professionally, I want to provide the most value possible for my customers. I’ve learned that people buy from people not companies and I want you to feel confident that we were the best choice you made to work with. I like to be someone who you can run ideas by both on and off the court. It could be in your existing business or even the paint on your wall at home. We’re a relationship-based company and understand that comes first.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
ML: I find inspiration in my colleagues and fellow entrepreneurs. When I have problems that arise, I know who to go talk to help me get through it. I don’t necessarily need someone to solve the challenge, just help me to think through it.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
ML: I learned from one of my mentors that you don’t get into this world by yourself, so don’t expect to be successful alone. Your individual ideas and skills can only take you so far; it really takes a team to build great products. For fellow entrepreneurs, it takes time to meet the right people to build a great team. You will go through a lot of friends, family members, investors, and whoever until you find the people who stick. Those people who stick around and share the same vision as you are priceless. Reward them well, treat them well, because without them you don’t have anything but an idea.
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