Max Fergus

Mother Knows Best

Growing up, I was a total mama’s boy. In fourth grade, I begged my mom to homeschool me. She agreed because she recognized the curriculum wasn’t challenging enough for me, and I needed to be challenged. 

Even though she agreed to homeschooling, she gave me a choice: follow the curriculum given by the school or start and run my own business for an entire year. I decided to start my own business.

[Nobody & Partners wants to know if you think Max’s mom is on to something about school curriculum.]

Max Rocks Literally and Figuratively 

I was really into geology at the time, so I started a jewelry line called “Max Rocks.”

I traveled across the US to different craft fairs selling my product for about $10 and donated a percentage of the proceeds to the Special Olympics.

During that time, I also ended up teaching geology to first graders. It was a really incredible experience. 

…Well, yeah I went back to regular school the next year. My mom was like, “OK, enough of this home schooling.”

My Entrepreneurial Reawakening – Why No Entrepreneur can Hide behind the Patagonia Vest of a Finance Bro

I went to University of Wisconsin-Madison and majored in finance. I really wasn’t excited about what I was learning in class. I wanted to learn from creating and doing, so my friends and I decided to start a Think Tank with U-Madison. It was amazing. 

Before graduating, I had a job lined up at Rothschild, a very prestigious European investment bank. It was a great offer. I was supposed to work in their New York City office. 

After one week into my senior year, I realized I couldn’t be an investment banker. I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I called up Rothschilds and backed out. 

I would’ve been making a lot of money [at Rothschild], but I would’ve been miserable. It’s funny because with LÜM I definitely work more hours than I would’ve worked at any investment bank, but I love what I do. It’s not work at all.

Real Time “DTC” Marketing …Handing Out Coupons 

When we were starting LÜM, I was going to bars handing out coupons getting people to download the app. We hired ambassadors to do the same thing. It was hard, but we did it. Eventually we got 5K users on the beta app. We used this as proof of concept and then went to investors and raised $500K. This was a big moment for us. It allowed us to build the next iteration of the app.

Not Just ‘Some College App’

We’re not trying to be like YouTube, who believes 90% of the revenue is in the top 1% of content. We actually think there is a lot of untapped revenue in the independent artist community that isn’t being realized. 

LÜM has grown so much. NeYo is one of our partners. We had a competition on LÜM where the winner got to make a remix with him.

Today, we’re a $10M music startup, and we plan to be the Twitch for the independent music industry.

It’s Not About Me

We spend 95% of our time thinking about “me, me, me.” 

Great leaders are able to go beyond that and understand other people’s perspectives and not think about themselves. 

Of course, it can be challenging to understand other perspectives, but it’s so important. 

The employees . . . they don’t work for me, I ultimately work for them.

The Ultimate Employee Retreat

When COVID hit, I was freaking out because I love coming into work, and I was nervous the team wouldn’t be able to communicate and it would just grind things to a standstill.

My mom has a lake house in the middle of a state park. Ten LÜM employees and I decided to quarantine there for four months and do work. It was actually quite fun.

Words of Wisdom

  • I have so much passion. If you’re passionate you’re going to succeed. 
  • Always be willing to learn and be humble. 
  • The way you see yourself isn’t always how people see you.