Welcome to SL #27! Join us for a great repeat visit with Mitch Free, founder and CEO of MFG.com. A lot has been happening with MFG since Mitch was on over a year ago. MFG facilitated roughly $5B in transactions in the first five years of operation. Now, they’re cranking out $2B in transactions each month. INSANE! Mitch was recently announced as a finalist for Ernst and Young’s 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year. Besides chatting with us about MFG, Atlanta, and his angel investing activities, Mitch broke the news and gave us some insights into next big project. He also answers the questions we all want to know the answers to: is MFG staying in Atlanta? What Atlanta startups is he particularly excited about? Who picks up the tab when he lunches with his repeat investor Jeff Bezos?
The bus takes a break during this show, as Mike dishes out a little love in a “Look Who Gets It” segment. Some great listener emails and a sprinkling of StartupLounge humor round out another great show. Enjoy!
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Shownotes and Interview Questions:
As usual, we had lots of related follow-up questions and side discussions, but here is a good sampling of the questions we asked on the show:
- Give us your 30-second elevator pitch for MFG.com
- Tell us about what’s happened with MFG.com since our last podcast.
- You’ve had a chance to work with Jeff Bezos (or at least his people) for over a year. How has having him specifically as an investor helped MFG.com?
- How big a deal is being the regional winner of E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year and a national finalist to you personally and to the company?
- Talk about the process of earning that honor.
- What are the things you like least about being where you are now?
- Are there any side projects you’re working on other the the company? (breaking news!)
- How big a challenge is the current economy for MFG.com and what are some things you are doing to react to those challenges?
- What were the key challenges that growth posed and how have you addressed them?
- You were a relatively late life-stage entrepreneur – what were some of the challenges you had to face by starting MFG when you did as opposed to when you were 20?
- How did you prepare for entrepreneurship at that stage?
- What do you think about the Atlanta early stage investment climate today? Has it changed since we last spoke?
- Do you think it would have been easier/harder to raise money for a company like MFG.com now?
- What trends in manufacturing are impacting MFG?
- Are there companies in Atlanta that you see that are ones we should keep an eye on?
- What does MFG look like in 5 years?
Mitch Free is the founder and CEO of MFG.com, an online global operating platform for the manufacturing industry. Prior to founding MFG.com, Mitch was founder and CEO of 3DATUM, a provider of technology solutions for the manufacturing and engineering communities. Mitch, an Atlanta-native, began his career on the shop floor and has worked his way to the top of the manufacturing industry. He holds two patents and is recognized among his peers for his strategic vision, domain expertise and creative management style. Mitch belongs to the Atlanta Technology Angels, a private group that actively seeks investments in early stage technology companies based in Atlanta. Inc. Magazine named him an “Entrepreneur of the Year” finalist in 2005, and under his leadership MFG.com was ranked by Deloitte and Touche as one of the top technology growth companies in the U.S., and in the top 10 technology growth companies in Georgia. He was recently named by Ernst and Young as Entrepreneur of the Year for 2008 (Georgia/Alabama/Tennessee region).
Enjoy! To play it, use the tools at the top of this post – you can play it via the embedded Flash player by pressing the big play button at the top, or download it to play on your computer or MP3 player.
Links referenced within this episode:
Podsafe music used within this episode:
- Neolith by Kevin MacLeod
- Unhackable by Bob Ricci
- All the Money in the World by Hutch
Our format is a little out of the norm as far as podcasts go. We treat our efforts as a true “show” rather than a super-concise (limited) vehicle for delivery of information. Therefore, the podcasts can run a bit long (actually, it is largely driven by the guests and their responses.) While we try to have very substantive discussions, we also try to have a lot of fun along the way (and that tends to elongate the programming a wee bit.) Our theory is that if we are having fun during the show, hopefully, you will be having a little fun listening as well.
Here is the breakdown for the show, in case you want to hop around.
|Smalltalk and introductions:||02:20|
|Look Who Gets It!||09:50|
|Main Discussion Topic||35:20|
A special thanks to Mitch and Heather for coming in and hanging out with us!
We welcome your continued feedback as well! If you have an interest in appearing on the show, becoming a show sponsor (hint, hint), have some suggestions for topics, have feedback, or would just like to email us and tell us to “shove off”, we invite you to contact us.