Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Mark Zuckerberg. Jack Dorsey. These tech entrepreneurs are known the world over for their infinite success after forgoing a college degree. But there’s another name to add to this notable list. Marcus Knight, the VP of Go-To-Market for Seattle-based Shipium, is a tech wiz with an impressive resume and a growing consultancy agency to boot. If you’re an avid online shopper, you’ve likely seen his work.
In the second half of 2021, the Chicago native helped broker deals with major online retailers like Target to bring same-day, next-day, and two-day shipping options to their e-tailer sites. “Consumers are now more conditioned to two-day shipping and free shipping options,” Knight tells EBONY by phone last week, “And unless you're at the size or the magnitude of like an Amazon, it's tough for retailers to do that. We empower retailers through our ecosystem to be able to offer these types of shipping options.”
Shipium, founded by former Amazon employees Jason Murray and Mac Brown, is expected to revolutionize the online shopping experience and give Amazon a run for its money. Knight recently joined the team as the point person steering revenue opportunities. And though his background isn’t necessarily in the supply chain space, he was intrigued by the opportunity to solve real-world problems like the current supply chain meltdown. “I just wanted to dive in and learn a new industry and really see how we can make an impact.”
Influence has been central to Knight’s work, as has advancing the community. Last year after the murder of George Floyd, the husband and father knew it wasn’t enough to just continue going into the office, accomplishing goals, closing deals, and scrutinizing metrics. “I'm suffering. The community is suffering,” Knight recalls. “And really, I wanted to take a step back and look at what impact I could make within my community.” His way forward involved taking a leap of faith and starting a consultancy that was geared around his skillset of revenue strategy and helping companies go from zero to millions.
“A lot of Black folks don't have the opportunity to become revenue leaders,” Knight says. “And so I figured by working with me and showing them how I've been able to accomplish these things and mentor these individuals, we can create a pipeline of individuals that can go out and consult with any major startup company and help them with a revenue strategy.”
Right now Knight’s consultancy business, Cultured Perspective Inc., has a total of 14 consultants total. But he is also an advisor for a company called Us in Technology which helps place BIPOC individuals into software sales with starting salaries around $55,000 and higher if you include commissions. No college degree is required. Participants just have to show up eager to learn. The organization coaches individuals through the interview process and what they need to know to align with organizations that are looking to hire these entry-level sales roles.
“I started out way back selling at a tech company in Chicago, Groupon, and ended up staying there for a while before starting my own organization called My Butler with a colleague of mine,” Knight shares of his entry into the tech world. My Butler was an on-demand butler service servicing New York and Chicago. Through that experience, Knight emerged as a name in the tech space, with several founders reaching out to him in the Bay Area asking him if he could help them scale their revenue teams and learn how to be more of a CEO or leadership leader. Game for the opportunity, Knight moved his family to the Bay to learn under what he calls “some really great founders.” After years in the heart of the global tech industry, Knight was approached by Seattle-based software company, Textio, to help scale their revenue efforts. According to Knight, he was able to take the business from less than a million in revenue to tens of millions in revenue before leaving.
“There's all this change that I want to see happen. And one of the things that my parents instilled in me at a young age was that if I want to see change, I have to actively do it,” Knights says of his extensive work history. “Even though I may not be the best suited for all of these things, I do have a skillset to be able to stand up organizations or stand up things that I'm a part of, initiatives, to a certain level where then I can plug and play, find people that can take it a lot further than me.” Knight believes that half the battle founders face is not understanding how to get started. It’s why he focuses on laying down the foundation for these startups so that they’re not starting completely from scratch.
He did exactly that for the platform Black With No Chaser, founded by CJ Lawrence and Tyson Jackson, joining the team in 2019 as the company’s growth officer. The organization has stated that Knight has been able to grow the platform’s revenue in his first year by 700 percent. Knight describes the platform as a safe space for Black people from all different professions to be their unapologetic selves.
“We can get on the platform and talk about things that are related to us in our community. We can laugh together, we can cry together, we can hold each other accountable. And ultimately, this organization is just something that's near and dear because it's also giving individuals and organizations that wouldn't necessarily have the means to get the word out about their business, the platform to engage and let individuals know exactly how and what they’re doing so they can tap in and get involved.”
The 38-year-old says finding the passion for each of his projects stems from being eager and having an insatiable thirst for new, real-world experiences. “Ultimately, it's been such a great blessing for me to just be able to have this experience.”