The Innovative Heavyweight: Dominic Marrocco

Serial entrepreneur, philanthropist and honorary fellow at UNLV’s College of Engineering

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

ACHIEVEMENTS If you’re a techie and have attended an event at Mike Tyson’s former mansion on Tomiyasu Lane, then you know Marrocco. He hosts fundraisers, as well as startup and educational events at the retired boxer’s onetime residence, which he bought a decade ago.

THE CREATIVE THINK TANK Recently, Marrocco has been transforming Tyson’s gaudy mansion—a lion-head fountain greets guests as they walk through the doors—into a breeding ground for ambitious young business leaders. His new foundation, called Entrepreneuria, will take in eight 18- to 30-year-olds from anywhere in the world who will live in the mansion and work in groups to create companies that Marrocco anticipates will change the world. The participants need not be academic students; they just have to be “entrepreneurs at heart.” The other requirements: Marrocco has to be convinced each startup idea will become a billion-dollar company within five years, and solve some kind of socio-economic problem.

BUILDING AN EMPIRE Now a venture capitalist, Marrocco began his entrepreneurial career when he dropped out of school at 15 to sell used electronics. Now 40, the soft-spoken Brit has roots in Leeds, U.K., and a lecturing position at the Peking University in Beijing. He says he circumnavigates the globe once every three weeks.

WELCOME TO THE OFFICE More than $10 million has been spent supporting the mission of Entrepreneuria, including mansion renovations such as installing a replica of the Denny’s dining area where he first thought of the idea for the program. “All this will be happening in a place with $75,000 door handles,” he chuckles. “It’s bizarre.” He’s in discussions with production companies about making a reality TV series, though he declined to share details.

BALANCE OF POWER Entrepreneuria will focus on teaching young innovators to be socially conscious as well as business savvy. In addition to fleshing out startup ideas, participants will have to find a local charity and begin their philanthropic careers. “As an entrepreneur, you have to balance greed, passion [and] desire against what your social obligation is, because the more successful you become the more power you have. What determines you as a person is how you use that power.”

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