“Joining a startup is irrational for most people. Launching a venture studio to build a hundred startups is totally irrational to pretty much everybody,” Barry O’Reilly remarks. “You’ve got two sticks, you rubber them together and you’re telling people that this is going to turn into a 500 storey skyscraper.”

On this show Barry celebrates this 100th episode of the Unlearn Podcast with Mark McNally, co-founder of Nobody Studios. Mark, who has started 14 companies in his career, shares that what sets Nobody Studios apart is its purpose-driven Why, which is to give people agency and create something bigger than themselves that will outlast them.

Together, they reflect on lessons from the last two years of building their venture studio, Nobody Studios, the importance of diversity, and how this journey has been a transformational personal development experience. This shows dives into their vision for creating a vehicle that brings together ideas, resources, and dreams to impact the world beyond their own lifetimes.

Mark S. McNally shares lessons learned from building a venture studio and their vision for creating a vehicle that brings together ideas.


Absorb Everything

It’s important to be open to learning and stretching yourself. With Nobody Studios’ board set of ventures, Barry and Mark have been exposed to different perspectives, which has helped them learn and grow. “I can say without a doubt I’ve learned more in the last three years than I have in my entire career and my entire life. It’s just the diversity and the creativity and people who join a call… I come out of that 1 hour call and it’s like I got a piece of their brilliance, a piece of their perspective, and it’s stretching me,” Mark comments. Barry says that he has been transformed by listening to the stories and experiences of different entrepreneurs. They encourage listeners to be like a sponge and absorb everything that is exposed to them. “While you have a strategy and you have plans, at the same time we’re a learning, breathing thing. You just want to be a sponge, and you want to just inherit and absorb the things that you’re exposed to,” Mark says. [Listen from 7:55]

Unleashing the Power of Why

Unlike his previous startups, Nobody Studios has allowed Mark to interweave his personal mission with his work, making his Why a core aspect of the venture.

He and Barry reflect on the past two years of building Nobody Studios and share their insights on the importance of discovering and living out your purpose. Barry stresses the importance of creating something meaningful that will outlast you: “The intent behind [Nobody Studios] is … to give people agency, to bring our best and put our experience into creating something bigger than ourselves that will outlast ourselves.” That’s what keeps him going, he remarks. Mark agrees and adds, “Our ability to conceive of something or even appreciate that it’s valuable or should come to life…This is worth getting up for every day and trying to fight for, because it’s definitely bigger than us.” [Listen from 9:50]

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Success and Scars are Equally Valuable

“When you’re doing things for the right reason,” Mark tells Barry, “and there’s some informed lessons and scars along the way, things tend to play out the way you hope, your truth. I think our truth is resonating.” Building a globally distributed venture studio during the pandemic was a risky move. Mark and Barry credit the role of serendipity in their journey. [Listen from 13:20]

Barry applauds the camaraderie that exists within their globally distributed team. Despite never meeting most of their team members in person, they have been able to onboard new people regardless of their location. He says, “It’s one of these things that I certainly feel no anxiety and stress around because we just know how to do it. It’s part of the culture.” This culture has been built through online interactions over the years. Mark acknowledges the role of this podcast in their success, with some of the coolest things that have happened to them in the last twelve months leading to new investors and acquisitions, all starting with the podcast. [Listen from 14:45]

Exciting Times Ahead

The future is bright for Nobody Studios and they are excited for what is to come. The business is still in its infancy so they have a long way to go. Even when they have unlimited financial resources available to them, they plan to continue to make constraints one of the things that force them to get things right. In order to grow they have to transition from doing everything to finding the right talent and systems. Making key hires to mature the organization and build the foundation is crucial. The flywheel is picking up momentum, which is a fascinating transition for any business. [Listen from 19:10]

Crowdfunding and Being a Nobody

Nobody Studios is at a fantastic juncture, and their crowdfunding is running until April 7th. Anyone can become a shareholder in the studio, which could potentially feed their machine. “Talent, influence, and capital are the three things that made our world go around,” Mark tells listeners. People can bring skills to the table, roll up their sleeves, and contribute to the journey of the studio and its companies. If Nobody Studios succeeds in creating 100 companies in the next five years, the firm’s worth could be in the multibillion-dollar range. [Listen from 23:05]

The Sky’s the Limit

Nobody Studios has twelve companies moving, with a few already in the market, and eight more to come this year. They are well on their way, and the potential ahead is unlimited. The journey of Nobody Studios has been one of the most rewarding of Barry’s life. He and Mark are excited about the road ahead, and this 100th episode is another great moment to reflect on the twists and turns of the journey. They are having fun, and they look forward to continuing building together. [Listen from 26:00]

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