“Work hard, pay attention to detail, communicate effectively, help those around you, and stop waiting tobe“ready.” You’ll never feel ready for anything that’s important in life, and when you put things off you’re just wasting time, and time is your most valuable resource.”
Mark Iafrate (’10) is driven, determined, and dedicated. He’s also a marketer, founder of his own company, and CEO. Mark’s personality and wisdom shine through his voice over the phone as he recounts to Julia Relova (’18), a student member of the Davidson Innovation & Entrepreneurship team, about his student experience at Davidson College and how it led him to where he is today.
A well-rounded football player and member of Phi Delta Theta who majored in economics, Mark is now working for Accredible, in addition to being the Founder and CEO of The Beer Exchange.
When asked about his Davidson College experience and how it relates to his current entrepreneurial career, Mark could not recall one specific thing at Davidson that served as a catalyst to getting involved in the start-up world. Instead, Mark felt that Davidson prepared him for the start-up industry through its liberal arts curriculum, heavy work load, variety of classes, and different forms of thinking.
As part of Davidson’s football team, Mark:
- developed and enhanced his leadership skills
- learned howto be part of a team
- recognized the importance of fulfilling his own responsibilities
- lived every day focused and committed
- created self-discipline
While engaging in Phi Delta Theta fraternity Mark:
- saw how many different, distinctive parts go into an organization
- worked in small groups on more focused projects that contributed to the bigger organization’s goals (similar to a start-up company)
In many ways, Mark says the culture of Davidson prepared him for success. The rigor and mindset of working hard and becoming a better person contributed to his values of honesty, creative problem solving, and working on your own. But he also emphasized how important it is to be part of a team! His experience on and off the field developed skills that are crucial in today’s workforce.
Mark’s most meaningful entrepreneurial experience while a student at Davidson College was a summer job with Davidson’s media production department. His boss Kristen Eshleman, the current Director of Digital Innovation, gave him projects with the expectation he would get the job done. Mark had complete autonomy over these projects, and found this working style similar to the professional world outside of Davidson. Mark’s experience working with the media consultants that summer reiterated how people aren’t always going to tell you exactly what they need, or how they want to see something executed. Mark’s big takeaway was that you need confidence in your ability to complete a task with little instruction.
One of the biggest difficulties Mark conquered during his career so far was the decision to quit his full-time job in order to create his own start-up. No doubt, this was the right decision for Mark, but it was also incredibly difficult. Making your own company, Mark reflects, takes a lot of hours, causes a lot of stress, and leads to constant frustration. It is a roller coaster of high, highs—like being on top of the world; to low, lows—like combating potential lawsuits. “You will fail more times than you will succeed. The start-up mantra goes something like ‘it’s the most difficult field you could join, but also the most rewarding.”
As students, we constantly push ourselves to be better. But, as Mark advises, we are really, really great and deserve to give ourselves a littlemore credit. Davidson holds us to a higher standard than we know, and in the world post-graduation that really pays off.