Welcome to Meet Our Mentors, a monthly series dedicated to shining a well-deserved spotlight on one of our Endeavor Mentors. This month, we’re speaking with Justin Delaney, an Endeavor mentor and the serial entrepreneur behind Louisvillains, Generation Tux, Menguin, and more. Learn more about his career and life below!
What are your areas of expertise?
Growth, culture, branding, and management.
What excites you about the Endeavor network?
Endeavor excites me because it forges a bond between the entrepreneurial community and forces the importance of networks upon entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are typically ineffective as single-person entities and we derive so much of our value from our network—whether it be via our teams, mentors/mentees, teachers, or strategic partners. We take resources—human, financial, and information—and we align it in a way that creates immense value. To do this, it all starts with people. For many entrepreneurs, networking feels like a synthetic or uncomfortable process that is not always directly aligned with the interest of the business. But networking is what creates the most valuable serendipities—from hiring the best people to raising money to finding the exit when it is time to go. Those with great networks tend to get lucky far more often. Endeavor provides that template in a seamless way for entrepreneurs who want to be well connected on a global scale.
What was the greatest challenge you overcame in business? How did you overcome that challenge?
My greatest challenge as an entrepreneur has been challenging and enhancing my perspective, especially during the lowest lows and highest highs—those high variability moments. It is important when we are presented with challenges and triumphs that we process the information rationally and add it to our entrepreneur risk/reward calculus in an unemotional way, or it can be corrupted. Even the most exciting breakthrough can be a red herring, and even the most dismal low can be a source of incredible power and perspective.
An example of this for me: We were raising our Series A several years ago for Menguin, and we had plenty of takers. Most would see that outcome, get excited, and think, “Well, mission accomplished, let’s put some money in the bank.” We forced ourselves to extend the optionality of that raise to the furthest limits as opposed to blindly accepting the raise that would make us much more robust and comfortable financially. As the months rolled on, we received an acquisition offer for over twice the pre-money valuation of our Series A. Navigating these two very different paths across several months of management and financial challenges was by far my greatest challenge as a leader. In the end, we sold the business, and it was definitely the correct decision.
What is your great accomplishment or proudest moment in business?
When I was at Delta Airlines working in revenue management, my responsibility was creating the pricing/inventory levels for the most competitive air market in the world: Los Angeles (LAX). I remember receiving the responsibility as a new employee right out of business school and wondering how I could make sense of it— literally every major U.S. carrier utilizes LAX as a hub in some form or fashion. Delta was sort of the last carrier to arrive to the party and my charge was to grow our presence there through monitoring load factors of our flights and adjusting inventory daily to generate as much revenue as possible. We were able to increase revenue by 85% in one year, and it was deeply satisfying to go through that cycle of learning a new skill (revenue management) quickly and upending a competitive market like LAX, especially in a fairly undifferentiated product like air travel. It was almost entirely a quantitative strategy and execution, which I found to be an exceptional experience and challenge. It taught me a great deal about going into a new market and taking what you want, especially when you have more levers like product, customer experience, and content.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my best friends and our CMO at Menguin, Bogdan Constantin, has a saying, “Give without expecting anything in return.” I feel like that is a good attitude that leads to a heightened level of networking and connecting with others in an authentic way.
What is the most important characteristic of a successful entrepreneur?
Provide a fun fact about you that can’t be discovered with a Google search.
I just visited my 100th country a few weeks ago in June 2019.