Marquis Cabrera: The Goal is to Eliminate Poverty, Disease, and Pollution
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only Interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Marquis Cabrera, a Managing Partner at Stat Zero Ventures. Let’s see what he’s doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome Marquis, I’m eager to hear about you and your work! Can you start by telling me what challenges you are addressing?
Marquis: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Stat Zero is a global movement seeking to use emerging tech, venture capital, and social innovation methods to accelerate the world towards zero poverty, zero diseases, and zero pollution. Stat Zero Ventures invents, builds, and invests in tech-enabled impact ventures with the world's most influential tech investors, celebrities, family offices, and government officials. Our clients include Fortune 100s, celebrity family offices, global government agencies, famous retail impact investors seeking to provide global community, capital, and consulting to bold entrepreneurs tackling grand challenges.
Spiffy: This sounds like a high reach! What motivated you to jump into this?
Marquis: In 2019, I left IBM to start Stat Zero, a global movement aiming to usher the world towards zero poverty, zero disease, and zero pollution. Why? In 2018, I did a study and realized that 40% of families—in both Europe and USA —had less than $4,000 in their bank accounts. If there was an economic snafu —let alone a global pandemic—I realized that many public sector leaders from democratic nations needed to build a new digital economy. I wanted to "Be the Impact" and build the needed smart (tech-enabled) government solutions, services, and infrastructure to scale.
Spiffy: How would you say that you and your organization are working to make the world a more equitable place?
Marquis: Stat Zero is an early-stage GovTech startup investment and advisory firm. Our global partners deploy global private impact capital to tech-enabled social enterprises moving the world towards zero poverty, zero disease, and zero pollution. Stat Zero Ventures is a first-of-its-kind digital-innovation product development and commercialization firm that works with impact investors and public sector CIOs to develop, launch, and grow dual-purpose impact products, platforms, and businesses. Stat Zero is also formal partners with PledgeLA, an initiative by the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office; the Department of Energy’s American-Made Network; the National Science Foundation; The Grid in New York City; World Business Angels; Women in VC; and Sandhill Angels.
Spiffy: That sounds amazing! Can you tell me about a recent milestone that you’ve achieved?
Marquis: There are a number of exciting milestones I’d love to tell you about, Spiffy! In March of 2020, we raised $2.4 million virtually from an investor, enabling impact investors to scale early-stage GovTech solutions. Most people don’t realize it, but the Global GovTech Market is $400 billion! Secondly, our board knew we weren’t going to be able to survive on management fees while we were setting up a fund, so our consulting division made $750,000, even with COVID-19. Finally, we commissioned Stat Zero’s Impact Investor Course to train minority emerging managers and young people to invest for good, all while making returns. We trained 37 investors from several firms including Goldman Sachs, Backstage Capital.
Spiffy: Can you tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make?
Marquis: We invested in Moving Analytics, a digital cardiac rehab company working with Kaiser that is led by underrepresented founders. Thousands of patients gain access to healthcare. Our impact investment yielded a 32% IRR, which is above the average of 19-20%. Moreover, we worked with the company to develop a maturity model and work with our celebrity investor network. Stat Zero also launched a health tech challenge to invest in a global startup using open source technologies to develop multi-stakeholder COVID-19 trackers. After reviewing 150 companies from Africa, Asia, Europe, and America, we worked with Stanford and MIT doctors to select Project Moses: a project created by Bridge360, a Philippines-based startup.
Spiffy: I’m curious, what is something unexpected you’ve learned recently?
Marquis: As an operator, venture capitalist, and manager of a family office, how do you motivate yourself to rally a team on an emotional level when everyone is working from home and can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel—especially when you're working, eating, and living at home? I had to focus on managing my mindset throughout so much uncertainty. Now that my team is getting vaccinated, we need to prepare our whole team to have a change of mindset in order to gear up for life and work beyond COVID-19. Recently, I have been doing yoga, attending men's wellness courses, virtual salsa lessons, meditating and setting my intentions to reach out to friends and family more. I would highly recommend joining a wellness course or doing some yoga and calling your mom!
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Marquis: Well, Spiffy, as a kid, I loved Dragon Ball Z (DBZ). DBZ's anime character, Goku said, "When life changes and becomes harder, change yourself to become stronger." This is why he created the spirit to defeat his enemies. In my NPR, "This I Believe Essay," I wrote that the world needs more superheroes, but those superheroes need a platform. Stat Zero is a platform for superheroes to help build a spirit bomb to lift up global democracies using our digital engineering superpowers. A spirit bomb is only strong when the community contributes its energies to it. This means Stat Zero is only successful with ecosystem support. If you want to engage Stat Zero, join our impact marketplace: Club Zero.
Spiffy: Thanks for that encouragement, Marquis! I hope someone takes you up on it. Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me about your stellar start-up. It’s been an honor!
Marquis Cabrera is co-founder and CEO of Stat Zero, a global impact advisory, and investment firm. Prior to Stat Zero, he worked for the Obama White House, IBM Global Government, Massachusetts Appeals Court, Y-Combinator's Wefunder, Wayfair, nuEX, City Year, and Annie E. Casey's Case Commons. At 16 years old, Marquis created an IAM solution that was adopted by the school district of Middletown, NY. He serves on WEF AR/VR Global Council and his TEDx received 100,000 views.(First published on the Ladderworks website on May 12, 2021)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.