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StreetShares Blog

The Resource Center for America's Small Businesses

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Mark L. Rockefeller, Co-Founder & CEO

Mark L. Rockefeller is the Co-Founder & CEO of StreetShares, Inc., a venture-backed startup that uses social trust to derisk the lending industry. He is also a contributor to Forbes, writing on entrepreneurship, fintech, and veteran-owned businesses. Mark began his career as a military officer, attorney, and federal prosecutor. Following military service in Iraq and a social enterprise project in Africa, he joined the Wall Street law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP. He left the firm to co-found StreetShares in 2013. StreetShares launched in 2014, has raised over $200MM in debt and equity investment, and beat nearly 200 startups to win the 2015 global "Best Investment" award from the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition. Mark has been listed as a "40 Under 40" entrepreneur, and has been quoted or featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Huffington Post, American Banker, Washington Business Journal, INC., and Entrepreneur Magazine. He holds a bachelor's degree in finance, MBA and law degrees. He was a Stone Scholar at Columbia Law School and is a term member in the Council on Foreign Relations.

Recent Posts

Why The Military Is The Best Entrepreneurship Training Program In America
| StreetShares Blog

By Mark L. Rockefeller, Co-Founder & CEO on November 9, 2018


This story was originally posted in Forbes on August 3, 2016.

One organization has produced more business owners than any other single institution in the nation.

It has a proven track record of teaching leadership, strategic planning, creative problem-solving, task execution, and resiliency—all traits essential to business ownership. It is not a fancy MBA or university program.

The organization is the United States military.

For many years, military veterans have become entrepreneurs at a much higher rate than non-veterans. Indeed, a shocking 49% of World War II veterans went on to own or operate their own businesses, according to a study from Syracuse University.

In the modern era, an exciting veterans’ entrepreneurship movement is once again spreading across America. These so-called “vetrepreneurs” are thriving. They have their own accelerators and incubators, their own venture capitalists, their own support organizations and coaches, and even their own Shark Tank stars (shout out to Navy SEAL-led Bottle Breacher and Army Ranger-led Combat Flip Flops).

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Why Military Veterans Should Become Entrepreneurs
| StreetShares Blog

By Mark L. Rockefeller, Co-Founder & CEO on November 8, 2018

I’m one of the 2.5 million veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. I’m also an entrepreneur. And I’m not alone. The men and women of today’s armed services are uniquely positioned to become successful veteran entrepreneurs.

To my fellow veterans:

You have what it takes.

By nature of your military service, you possess the skills that are required to run your own business. As a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine, you learned the importance of communication, focus, and drive to accomplish the mission at hand. You’ve encountered problems that need to be solved on the fly and you’ve done so instinctively. Recall one of the earliest reports from Operation Enduring Freedom: U.S. special operations forces in Afghanistan coordinated precision airstrikes from laptops on horseback—21st Century technology met old-fashioned creativity to get the job done. That’s called entrepreneurship.

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Entrepreneur's Winning Secret: Use These 3 Elite Military Tactics in Business
| StreetShares Blog

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com on December 21, 2017. See the original publication here.

Hang out with entrepreneurs long enough and you notice patterns.

At StreetShares, we fund thousands of veteran-owned small businesses. I’ve noticed many successful veteran-owned small businesses are run by veterans from elite special operations units. These elite units include the Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces (“Green Berets”), Marine Corps’ MARSOC (formerly “Force Recon”), Army Rangers, and others. Units like this are selective and tough. The warriors in these units are highly trained and, as a result, they are given liberties and discretion that other military units do not have.

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How This Veteran Entrepreneur Brewed $30 Million From Coffee And Passion
| StreetShares Blog

Evan Hafer, CEO of Black Rifle coffee and former Green Beret (EVAN HAFER)

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com on April 5, 2018. See the original publication here.

The best entrepreneurs are like a good cup of coffee: fresh, strong, and bold.

Army Green Beret turned coffee brew master, Evan Hafer, is exactly that. As the CEO of Black Rifle Coffee, Hafer says they’re selling freedom, one cup at a time.

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Taming The Red Bull: Navy SEAL Joins 5-time Entrepreneur to Disrupt $65 Billion Energy Drink Market
| StreetShares Blog

Sean Matson of Strike Force Energy. SEAN MATSON

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com on June 21, 2018. See the original publication here.

In running StreetShares, I get to meet great entrepreneurial teams. One thing I've noticed is that military veterans-turned-entrepreneurs have a unique tenacity and skillset. They apply what they learned in combat and they win in entrepreneurship.

But the best “vetrepreneurs” also have a secret ability: they possess the humility to understand that they don’t know everything, and they need to partner with more experienced entrepreneurs to win.

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"I Want To Show The World That Entrepreneurs Like Me Can Exist"
| StreetShares Blog

This story was originally posted in Forbes on September 27, 2017.

Meet Andy Williams.

He's a Marine Corps veteran who owns a sizable chunk of the real estate rental market in the same Texas town where he once picked up cans on the side of the road to make money.

His path to prosperity has been hard-fought and incremental: he has launched multiple successful companies, closed over $250,000,000 of real estate finance transactions, personally invested in over 100 real estate deals, and is currently hosting a TV show for HGTV, Flip or Flop Fort Worth.

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Forget Silicon Valley: 5 Reasons Veteran Entrepreneurs Launch Startups In Unexpected Places
| StreetShares Blog

The US Navy Blue Angels numbers 5 and 6 fly near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California as part of a practice run for Fleet Week on October 6, 2016. / AFP / JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

This article was originally published in Forbes. 

I recently read a list of the 10 best cities to launch a startup. It included the places you’d expect: Silicon Valley, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Tel Aviv, London, Chicago, Seattle, Berlin and Singapore.

My co-founder and I launched our startup, StreetShares, outside of Washington, DC, which was not on the list. For two years now, people have been telling us to move our company to Silicon Valley. Even now, I write this article on a plane heading back from investor meetings in San Francisco where we were told we should move, yet again. We’ve resisted.

Here’s why many entrepreneurs, particularly “vetrepreneurs” (those with military experience like us), choose to launch their startups away from the conventional hotspots.

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5 Lessons from Investment Crowdfunding’s Cousin – Peer-to-Peer Lending
| StreetShares Blog

By Mark L. Rockefeller, Co-Founder & CEO on September 22, 2016

When I was a kid, I had an older cousin. I looked up to her. She was cool, and she could do things I couldn’t do. I learned by watching her.

Investment crowdfunding has an older cousin, too. Her name is peer-to-peer lending. And she has a few lessons for the emerging investment crowdfunding industry.  

Lesson 1: If You’re Solving a Market Need, Everything Else Will Work Out

JOBS Act Title III investment crowdfunding went live just a few months ago. Already some are trumpeting its death. One example is a TechCrunch article "Equity Crowdfunding is Dead” by contributor Ryan Caldbeck.

To channel Mark Twain: reports of crowdfunding’s death are greatly exaggerated.

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3 Simple Ways Business Owners Can Honor Memorial Day
| StreetShares Blog

By Mark L. Rockefeller, CEO, StreetShares

How do you observe a holiday that is both solemn and celebratory?

Most of us know Memorial Day is more than a day off to barbecue.

Many of us know the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day (hint: Memorial Day is next Monday and remembers those who have died in military service; Veterans’ Day is in November and celebrates all veterans).

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