Editor's Note: Startup Grind is hosting Marc Hawk, President of RevLocal, at TechColumbus next Monday (1/19) after work with the usual spread of food, drinks and networking opportunities. RevLocal is a digital marketing agency that was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest growing companies in America, with offices in 37 cities in the U.S. and Canada. 
Marc Hawk: Born to Launch
By Terreece Clarke, January 12th, 2015

Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, Startup Grind brings together leaders from all industries to share ideas. Hawk is not only an engaged Google Partner, but someone who has the entrepreneurial spirit running through his veins.

It's in His Blood

When Hawk was a baby, his father convinced a banker to allow him to take over the local feed store. Hawk's father went on to follow the market and add a lumber store, a hardware store and other businesses. Hawk said his father always told him and his brother to, "Rely on yourself, don't rely on other people."

He also told the brothers to have a partner for two things - one to go to bed with and one to dance with - and they should be the same person. In other words, going into business with family wasn't the best idea. It was advice the brothers didn't take.

By the time they created RevLocal, the brothers had launched several companies together and worked out the kinks that come with working with each other. Hawk said that understanding each other's skill set and setting strict parameters is the key to creating a successful family business.

"[My brother and I] are very different. He is great at framing the company, creating the narrative, innovating. He doesn't like the day-to-day and that's what I do. I execute the vision, run the operations. We understand our roles and we work with humility."

Humility in Entrepreneurship

Humility is not a word one often hears when discussing successful startups, especially those like RevLocal that have grown to 170 employees and $12.5 million in revenue in three years.

"People usually become entrepreneurs because they want to do their own thing," Hawk said. "They have the mindset of, "nothing is going to stop me," and that's an important mindset to have, but you also have to understand your role."

The Central Ohio Connection

And what role does Central Ohio play in the success of RevLocal? The company has very successful offices in several cities including Atlanta and Minneapolis, yet chooses to stay in Central Ohio. Why?

"The workforce," Hawk said. "With our particular business and staff, it [Central Ohio] serves us well. "With the college/university structure with Ohio State, Franklin, Columbus State, Dennison, etc., there is a workforce who has good values, a strong work ethic and the willingness to learn."

Additionally, Hawk said another reason RevLocal stays in the area is because of its responsive leaders and organizations like Ohio Means Jobs, TechColumbus, Columbus 2020, etc., who are dedicated to keeping companies in the area and supporting their growth.

Another reason to keep the company local? The access to fellow entrepreneurs.

"There is a diverse peer group [of entrepreneurs] here where I can learn from their examples," he said. "It’s good to know you are not alone and when you have the goal to build up a company to a certain level, it helps that you have examples in Cardinal [Health], White Castle, Limited [Brands] and people who have been through it, and want to help you avoid the mistakes they've made."

Entrepreneurs Helping Entrepreneurs

Hawk said he's grateful for the practical leadership opportunities in which he's able to participate, which is why he was happy to headline the Startup Grind event.

"Being a good corporate citizen is about giving back," he said. "It's important to be able to give people confidence [about being an entrepreneur]. Being an entrepreneur is not easy or simple. There are a lot of gray hairs involved. Business at its core is nothing but solving the needs of someone else. You have to find a way to meet their needs and be in a position to create value. When you can no longer do that, it's time to think about doing something else. A lot of entrepreneurs have cool ideas, but it doesn't meet a need. That's the journey and challenge of entrepreneurship, to not get caught in an emotional attachment to the idea and be able to move on."