Abe Minkara is an expert on entrepreneurs.
As the founding partner of a fairly new, Dallas-based multifamily office called Legacy Knight, Minkara helps manage the portfolios of high net worth families, and provides advisory services as well. The deals are broad, he says—they invest in real estate, private equity funds, private credit funds, venture capital funds and more, all at a later stage.
And he and his team have delivered results. In the last seven months, Legacy Knight has nearly doubled its assets under management. That’s despite the venture being entrepreneurial in itself: Minkara and former Crow Holdings Capital Managing Director Matthew Ogle, the CEO of Legacy Knight, started from scratch to build their portfolio.
But Minkara had experience in the space, especially having worked with Dallas’ most famous face on the entrepreneurial scene: Mark Cuban.
Minkara was formerly the managing director at Mark Cuban Companies, a role in which he managed the portfolio of investments with a focus on technology, logistics, and consumer product goods. That includes companies you might have watched Cuban invest in on “Shark Tank.”
Working with Cuban was a privilege and an honor, Minkara says, but when the Legacy Knight opportunity presented itself, he had a gut feeling it was what he had to do. The entrepreneur inside of him yearned for the experience.
Today, in addition to his work at the multifamily office, he’s actively engaged as an advisor and board member with a number of companies, lending his expertise on strategy, operations, and capital allocation to assist in accelerating growth.
He knows what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, and how to help. That’s why he agreed to serve as one of the keynote speakers at Dallas Startup Week, joining The DEC Network Co-Founder Trey Bowles onstage to lend a helping hand to the founders who filled the audience for the event.
The chat was different from most organized events: The two were long overdue for a talk over coffee, so Bowles suggested they bring their conversation to the masses at Dallas Startup Week instead.
Here are some key takeaways from Minkara’s advice for local entrepreneurs.
Find the right team
It’s difficult to find the first group of people to help further your business, Minkara says, but it should be one of your first priorities. You can’t do it all.
For all entrepreneurs and leaders, there will be challenges. Getting everyone on the same team and tackling it together will illuminate solutions.
Next, make sure they can work together as a team. You might hire superstars, but if they can’t collectively execute your strategy, “you’re going to potentially lose to another company.”
That extends to having mentors on board and building an ecosystem around you. “The sooner you can, surround yourself with the right advisory group. The first thing I really advise is to pick and choose your advisors early on and make sure they’re a group of advisors that give you a holistic view of your business,” Minkara said.
“You don’t want everyone to be an expert in your business. Have a little bit of diversity on your advisory board. They don’t necessarily have to be board directors—these are advisors who can help. Those advisors could potentially make you your first paycheck.”
Push the boundaries
As an entrepreneur, Minkara says you have to constantly innovate. Have a clear vision of what you want to do, and learn new skills along the way. He considers the entrepreneurial journey to be like a second MBA.
“You have to push, push, push, push,” Minkara said. “If you’re not constantly tweaking and upgrading, somebody else can come in with a different product. So as long as you keep pushing and innovating and improving, you will have an edge. The rest is execution.”
A lot of skills that come with being an entrepreneur aren’t learned in a classroom. So Minkara says don’t be afraid to take that leap. The journey can be an emotional roller coaster, but you have to be determined and have the right grit.
“You don’t have to be amazing to take the first step,” he said. “You have to take the first step to become amazing. As entrepreneurs, you just have to take that first step. That’s all it takes.”
Use the ecosystem to your advantage
According to Minkara, many entrepreneurs tend to think they’re alone in this world. But you have to be aware of all the groups that are out there waiting for you.
“There’s a lot that a city can offer,” he says. “You’ll be amazed by who you meet.”
He suggest taking advantage of the incubators, accelerators, networking events, and special purpose organizations that have set up shop in emerging startup hubs. Form relationships with partners and investors at every stage, because even if they’re not able to assist you at a certain time, they could later down the line.
And they could connect you with their own professional network. “Keep building those relationships as you grow,” Minkara says. “You never know when you need to reconnect. It makes it much easier to have a conversation.”
Use Dallas to your advantage
Minkara has been in Dallas for around two decades. He grew up in France, but came to North Texas during the dot-com boom to work for Verizon. He’s seen the city transform over time.
One thing he’s noticed: Everyone in Dallas is willing to help. There’s a lot of collaboration happening here.
“That’s the key to Dallas: The community and the ecosystem,” he says. “And that’s what makes it special. Dallas has a lot to offer.”
Dallas also has one of the largest numbers of Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in its area. Use them, Minkara says: Some have venture groups, some are potential customers, and some have mentors and advisors ready and able to lend a hand.
As an entrepreneur, the more you understand what your community has to offer, the more you can be strategic about your approach. Yes, your core focus should be on building your product or service, growing your business, and finding clients. But it’s also about immersing yourself in the startup world, he says.
“Every strategic need—from your client to investor—is here,” Minkara said. “They’re all here. There are no gaps.”
If you’re a Dallas-based company, Minkara recommends staying put. Now that he’s wearing the investor hat, he’s witnessed the migration of companies from the West and East Coasts flocking to Dallas to find capital.
“There’s so many great things that Dallas has to offer,” Minkara says. “It’s just connecting the dots.”
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