This is the first in a series of three interviews with entrepreneurs who attended MastermindTalks in Toronto in mid-June for two days of presentations, roundtables and networking. Yanik Silver is the 40-year-old founder of Maverick1000, based near Washington, D.C.
Question: You started in a one-bedroom apartment with a few hundred dollars. What action did you take to launch your career?
Answer: It’s kind of like the proverbial overnight success that took eight or nine years to get there. I have to back up a little bit. We’re a family of Russian immigrants and my father created a medical equipment sales and service company, and like any family business I had to work for that. When I was 14, I was telemarketing, and when I was 16, the deal was that I got a car if I’d go cold calling. And it sucked.
But I met a lot of doctors and I’d talk to them face-to-face and while that also wasn’t ideal, one doctor turn me on to learning about advertising, marketing and copy writing. I started honing those skills and got really good at it. I was able to take my father’s business from a very regional player to a national player by using that skill set.
Fast forward to 2000 and that one-bedroom apartment, where I had a three-o’clock-in-the-morning idea where I literally jumped out of bed about creating instant sales letters. The idea was to create fill-in-the-blank sales templates for any business owner that they could use for whatever field they were in, and use them to sell.
I didn’t really know how to put up a website – I still don’t – and I spent a bunch of money on my merchant account and to put up the site. Maybe $1,800 or so to start, and that first month we made $1,800, second month it was $3,600, and then within four months I was on track to do six figures.
People were like, “whoa, how did you do that?”
Q: As a serial entrepreneur you say you have launched multiple seven-figure businesses. Can you outline a few of your key ventures?
A: Everything began with that first $1-million product in overall sales, and that was started in $30 increments of essentially selling digital templates. From there, I started helping other people take their information and content and sell it. I would have my own seminars that would generate six or seven figures, my own information and content courses that were seven figures, helping people take what’s in their heads – their knowledge and their passion – and sell that.
One of the skill sets I got really good at was copy writing and teaching people how to do that. Also running high-level peer-to-peer groups where people would pay $15,000 to $20,000 a year. And now the latest one, which is at a much higher level, is the Maverick1000 group.
Q: You also call yourself a maverick entrepreneur. What does that mean?
A: To me a maverick is someone who blazes their own trail and doesn’t always follow the norms, and really sees things as they could be. The other maybe less-unorthodox version of a maverick is a business owner who wants to redefine what entrepreneurship is for the 21st century.
It’s a combination of growing your business and being successful but also wanting to create an impact in a big way, and having some fun with that process and that journey. Combine that all together and you get the maverick philosophy.
Q: You claim to be on the way to impacting one million entrepreneurs to start or grow businesses by 2020. How are you going to pull that off?
A: Through leverage. For Maverick1000 I plan to bring together 1,000 of the world’s most interesting, game-changing entrepreneurs who also have a lot of leverage in their own right. So it’s just 1,000 times 1,000, which isn’t that much when you start breaking it down that way. We work with non-profits and cross-partners and young entrepreneurs and startups.