Building Unicorns in times of Covid

By Brian Mac Mahon

Brian Mac Mahon is an Irish serial entrepreneur. For 10 years, he ran a property development company in the United Kingdom. Afterwards, he had an international property consultancy company. Over the following 10 years, Brian ran an international technology marketplace that led him to travel and live in more than 50 countries around the world, allowing him to gain a unique understanding of international business and startups. 

He then arrived in the US and is now the CEO and founder of Expert DOJO, the most active startup accelerator in Southern California, where he invests in one international startup per week. Brian has consulted and coached companies in more than 35 countries bringing a global perspective to the startup space. Brian focuses on the power of the community and has a pay it forward mindset to generate revenue for years. 

The journey of great founders

“At Expert DOJO, we decided to take a different standpoint. We look for the greatest founders from all over the world regardless of gender, ethnicity, or color, and equip them with what they need to become enticing to the later stage Venture Capitalists. A time always comes where bias is overtaken by the fear of missing out and greed.” This is the space that Expert DOJO lives in and helps its startups to thrive in. Brian and the team at Expert DOJO instill into entrepreneurs the idea that there are two paths to build a company and that it is important to understand the rules of each road before starting on the journey: 

1) The slow and difficult path

Path Number 1: The founder takes a loan/uses their own money or money gathered from his family and friends. They then build a great company from scratch. These founders build their businesses based on their abilities rather than on the money they can raise.


2) the pure unicorn path

Path Number 2: This is the pure unicorn path. Founders build companies in the knowledge that they will win or lose based on their ability to raise money.  This is the Venture Capital route.  This route is very focused on top line growth in contrast to bottom line growth.  It is all about building users and revenue and then convincing investors that more investment will mean more users and revenue.  The Venture Capitalists will want to see exponential growth in revenue in a relatively short amount of time. In each round, the valuation of the company grows from millions to potentially billions depending on how fast the user base grows. 


“The secret sauce of Expert DOJO is not the $100,000 investment we make or the follow-on investment of 1 million USD, or even the other investors we introduce startups to.  

What makes this accelerator truly remarkable is that we focus on building inspirational storytelling within our companies so that they can build a personal and business brand that will showcase our companies, and propel them over and above any competition they will encounter.  Once this is established, all resources are focused on growth hacking these same companies so they can scale at unimaginable levels. No other accelerator has this focus that is entirely centered on aggressive growth besides Expert DOJO.”

Ironically, recessions, pandemics and downturns are the best time to start a company. Many great companies started in times like this. Many people also turn to entrepreneurship realizing that their secure employment is not actually secure in times like this. After huge turmoil, it is easier to determine who has what it takes to persevere through the tough times and succeed in the long term. Venture Capitalists are futurists because they do not look for short term solutions and immediate revenue gratification, but rather they invest in the next 5-10 years and therefore look for areas in the world where transformative change is happening. They primarily look for probable changes in behaviors which will generate new industries that will dominate in the future. 

“When investing in companies, some Venture Capitalists want to invest in founders that failed before believing that this time will be different. Other Venture Capitalists want founders with exits. We want founders with proven execution who are capable of filling the current and future skill gaps that are required for a company to be a successful company. These skill gaps can be in marketing, technology, business development, logistics, or any other industry. As investors, we make sure that companies have done everything in their power to bridge all the skill gaps to have a product that can scale quickly.”


The disruptive world

We live in a world of disruption and Expert DOJO intends to invest in over 1,000 companies over the coming years and be a driving force in changing the manner in which startups succeed.  “We intend to find those future unicorns from the deepest corners of the planet and be a vital part of their execution team. That is what we want our legacy to be.”