M3Linked is live in nine markets across the country, including Detroit.
Shortly before COVID-19 hit, entrepreneur Steven Nelick, former vice president and general manager of Enterprise Holdings, retired from his role.
At the time, Nelick relocated to Birmingham to be closer to his wife’s family, who originally hails from Metro Detroit. Though they were married at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, they lived in many cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
“I wasn’t really sure if I was going to go back to work,” he recalls. “Then COVID hit, so I started looking for the next best thing because I became kind of bored.”
He managed to bump into an old Enterprise friend in Birmingham, Jim Lareau, and the two decided to look for a franchise together.
“We investigated a bunch of franchises, and we ran into this company called M3Linked,” Nelick says. M3Linked offers a unique twist on networking opportunities for business professionals with both virtual and in-person events. “We absolutely loved it because it was all about helping entrepreneurs, business owners and CEOS move their businesses forward.”
For Nelick, 52, who was always passionate about collaboration and business growth, he felt that buying the Michigan franchise rights for M3Linked was the right move. “It felt like a really good extension of what I’ve done my whole career,” Nelick says, who managed more than 2,000 employees across 200 locations while at Enterprise Holdings.
Together, Nelick and Lareau bought the franchise rights and got to know M3Linked’s business partners. “They basically asked us to come in and buy half the company and be the managing partner,” Nelick explains of the transition. M3Linked moved its headquarters from Scottsdale, Ariz., here to Birmingham, where it currently stands, making Nelick and Laureau franchisors instead of franchisees. Nelick became CEO, while Laureau became COO.
Now, M3Linked is live in nine markets across the country, including Detroit — and Nelick says his goal is for the company to grow even further. “I think it fixes a bunch of things,” he says of M3Linked’s capabilities. “Business owners and entrepreneurs don’t always have a lot of people when they’re at the top who can help them. When they get involved in a community like this, they have all the resources they need to move their business forward and get guidance.”
The way M3Linked works, Nelick explains, is that it builds communities of entrepreneurs, business owners, attorneys, CEOs, investors, celebrities and founders. The platform brings these individuals together using different experiences within the community.
There is an entry-level membership where members can join special events, receiving 60 seconds to tell people about their professional background, their mission and their motivation. From there, members can create breakout groups with two to three people who might be able to help them out.
There are other levels as well, including one called “Masterminds” where eight to 10 people meet every month for half a day, diving into one another’s businesses and solving various business problems. For now, many sessions are remote, but Nelick says in-person events are picking back up as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
“The biggest difference between us and some of our competitors is that you don’t have to attend every meeting, and referrals aren’t a requirement,” Nelick says. There’s also a strict membership vetting — only members with true intentions to help others can join. “We’ve turned away people that are worth millions and millions of dollars because we realize they’re only there for the take.”
Even on a personal level, Nelick says the networking he’s witnessed has moved him greatly. “I’ve sat through many Masterminds, and every time I do, at least one person ends up crying,” he recalls. “People really love it when they come to us. They say they’ve finally found the right type of organization and community.”
Nelick says M3Linked looks for members who have a positive attitude and a lot of energy. “It’s a business collaboration, and everybody knows within the organization that if you help, you’ll get help.”
He also believes M3Linked provides a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and other professionals to scale their businesses across the country, since they can meet with people in different markets (for example, a Detroit business owner can meet with a Los Angeles business owner to discuss bringing that particular business to another market). The virtual meeting capabilities, Nelick says, make this possible.
“We like to say we’re spearheading the collaborative revolution,” Nelick continues. “Our short-term goals are to expand into the top metro markets in the United States. After that, our plans are to go international and go worldwide.”