Marcus Knight may be one the most successful college dropouts you’ve never heard of.
Formerly a sales lead for global, multi-billion-dollar companies like Groupon and Fast Company-recognized tech trailblazers like Textio, in response to nationwide protests against police brutality in 2020, compounded by years of frustration over discrimination in the workplace, Knight – despite his impressive rise through the ranks of corporate America – decided to strike out on his own.
“I’ll never forget where I was when I learned George Floyd had been killed,” reflects the 38-year-old husband and father of one, who, like most of America, has lived through the killings of thousands of Black people at the hands of police. “Despite all the deaths that preceded Floyd’s, his was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Knight says of his heartbreak. “I asked myself, ‘What I am doing if not creating opportunities for Black people trapped in a racist system, to include me?’”
In 2020 he launched Cultured Perspective, the world’s first known Black-owned revenue go-to-market consultancy. Formed, in large part, to create a safe space for successful Black salesmen and women to leverage their brilliance within a supportive and affirming culture, Knight says his Seattle and Chicago-based company can effectively position start-ups in any industry. Cultured Perspectives’ current clients range from a cannabis company startup to a software automotive business one. “We can come in and create a strategy that can take a company from zero to $40 million and more,” he says of the award-winning professionals he enlisted for Cultured Perspective from powerhouses like Bloomberg, Intuit, Catchafire, Assembly.co and Seamless.ai and Microsoft. “We specialize in working with organizations that have made or raised at least a few million dollars but don’t have a sales team in place – we’ll come in, help build a strategy, execute and implement it. On the other hand, if a company has a sales team but isn’t sure which direction to go in next,” Knight says, “we come in and help them determine a winning direction. Our consultants are committed to excellence.”
Knight’s epiphany on leveraging more of his professional time and energy to help lift Black America extends naturally into community service.
Understanding all too well that many of the most promising Black tech and sales talent never make it to the Googles or Microsofts of the world, despite his 9-to-5 and side work managing several businesses, in 2020 Knight also became a founding member of advisory boards for two nonprofits dedicated to disrupting this paradigm. One, Sales for the Culture, is a communal movement of Black tech sellers mentoring other Black tech sellers; the other is the celebrity-backed Us in Technology, whose mission is to help diversify the technology industry by working with top tech firms to place minorities and historically excluded individuals in entry-level sales, marketing and revenue roles. “UIT is free for mentees to join but it costs organizations to partner with us,” explains Knight of the organizational model and mission to change the demographic in the tech sales community, making it more inclusive to Black and Brown folks with non-traditional sales backgrounds.
And then of course there’s Knight’s work as Chief Growth Officer for Black with No Chaser. Responsible for helping grow the platform’s revenue and establish corporate partner and sponsorships, he was able to help the company grow its revenue in his first year alone by 700%.
“The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Tayor, George Floyd and others back to back, compounded by the devastation of the pandemic, amplified the importance for us of telling our own stories, and honestly we needed someone with his pedigree to help us do the things that were difficult for us to do on the sales side,” says CJ Lawrence, Black With No Chaser Chief Executive Officer. “Companies weren’t even having conversations about giving Black folks dollars before last year. Marcus walked in and helped us elevate our brand’s profile, particularly in the tech world. Understanding that many times companies like ours do not lack the talent but often lack access to the resources, Marcus brought that knowledge to Black With No Chaser. He bet on Black.”
When Knight is not busy helping grow with Black with No Chaser, Shipium or Cultured Perspective, Marcus operates a clothing company, KidKlture, that he co-founded with his grade-school son. Earlier this year he opened a showroom in his hometown of Chicago to help scale clothing production efforts. If you’re interested in connecting to Knight to discuss sponsorship or partnership opportunities with Black With No Chaser, speaking engagements or sales-related consulting, message him here.