Mark Murrell, owner and Chief Curator of GetMaineLobster.com, left Maine several years ago and never thought he would return. Now he’s back and selling the state’s prized export.
GetMaineLobster.com is a purveyor and distributor of the finest Maine lobster and seafood. Founded in 2010, Mark Murrell explains that the opportunity landed in his lap. A friend of his owned a small fish market in Bath, Maine and was looking to sell lobster online. At the time, Mark was a consultant living in Chicago and had a client in Maine, which required him to travel there often. Mark began researching the online lobster delivery industry and realized that it was a great opportunity. “I never thought I would be selling lobster,” Mark explains. Now, five years later, the company is on track to do $5 million in annual revenue.
When he first heard about Junto through Jonathan Sheinkop, a JuntoI alumnus as co-founder of Music Dealers, Mark lacked a traditional education in business, felt "lonely at the top", and wanted to further develop his emotional intelligence but didn't know what to do. Mark and GetMaineLobster.com were the first to enroll in JuntoII, our second cohort, and he began to realize that the situations he and his company were going through were completely normal. Being surrounded by other founders who were going through the same issues as he was made him feel less alone and helped him address some of the challenges within his own company.
While his feelings of loneliness have not completely dissipated, the network that Mark has built through Junto - specifically his relationships with Mentors and other JuntoII CEOs - has given him a core group of people to rely on. GetMaineLobster.com has also created strategic partnerships with other JuntoCompanies such as ThreadMeUp (JuntoII), Solid (JuntoII), and Tiesta Tea (JuntoI).
Throughout the program, Mark says that he absorbed all of the information he could about running a business and developing high emotional intelligence. “My intention of getting better, smarter, and stronger is rippling into the business,” Mark explains. Getting better, smarter, and stronger led to Mark's desire to nurture the close relationships that he has with his customers, especially through social media campaigns.
As a customer-centric company, Mark explains that GetMaineLobster.com is looking at customer experience and making that the forefront. The company is in the works of creating "Random Acts of Lobster" where customers submit stories of why someone should receive free lobster, and then Mark and his team select a winner. Furthermore, Mark explains that customers are the driving force behind the company’s vision, mission and values. Everything at GetMaineLobster.com is done for the benefit of its customer, and Mark is not unwilling to give out his personal cell phone number to customers when a situation calls for it. All of this has been paying off as GetMaineLobster has experienced steady 25% quarterly growth and continues to receive a stream of testimonials.
Today, seven months after graduating from Junto, Mark continues to educate his employees with a "sideways approach" by using books and videos to help them grow the company. Graduation itself was a big moment for Mark, especially as he stood up in front of the Tribe and shared his experience in the program. “When you have a culture with a shared belief and the opportunity to tell them what you got out of [Junto], it’s a moment of discovery - of yourself and your business,” Mark notes.
That unique interconnectedness that is characteristic of the JuntoTribe is something that Mark particularly values. Having just secured new office space in Maine, he is having difficulty surrounding himself with people who share his love of collaboration. This, however, makes returning to Chicago even more exciting because as Mark says, “I know how strong of a network I have.”
We are so glad that Mark said "yes" to Junto, and we look forward to supporting GetMaineLobster and their continued success.
"That was the beginning. I said yes. And that was the beginning of something awesome." -Mark Murrell #JuntoNight— The Junto Institute (@JuntoInst) December 3, 2014