Ken Collis is thriving as a leading entrepreneur in the marketing industry. Coming right out of college and immediately collaborating with three individuals to create the much needed Bank Card Processing and the world’s first credit card processing gateway, his career path in the financial industry was deemed a huge success. After taking the company public and exiting the financial industry, a chance meeting led him down the path of marketing that gave him a whole new industry to dominate. Today, Ken continues to nurture up and coming entrepreneurs and start-up businesses.
His desire to be successful started at a young age, and fresh out of Cal State Northridge, where he aggressively studied in their Business studies programs, he collaborated with three individuals and changed the direction of his life and his new family in a massive way. The world was just entering the digital age when he became one of the four original collaborators of Bankcard Processing and authorize.Net, which went on to become the world’s very first credit card processing gateway for the new Internet.
With success already under his belt, he needed a new passion to pursue. He went on to become the Director of Strategic Alignments of Clear Channel, now known as iHeart Radio. After rising to the top of his trade quickly, he needed an avenue to begin his work with the Kardashian Family. The obvious choice was to create a new venture and step back into an entrepreneurial role.
Currently, Ken is keeping busy as the Founder and CEO of the most lucrative and successful marketing firm in the country. Positioned as a “Pop” Culture Marketing Firm, TLK Fusion successfully fuses together traditional marketing ideas, powerful digital advertising, social media management, public relations and distribution of products into retail, along with strategically aligning growing brands with today’s Hollywood Celebrities.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
After spending a number of years in the financial industry and emerging as a master and innovator in the trade, I needed a new challenge that I could direct my passions into. After taking some time for myself and family, I joined Clear Channel as the marketing industry had always intrigued me. I rose very quickly and worked diligently to master a new career path. After many years, I needed a path forward to blend my ability to strategically align business and Hollywood. I chose to go back to my entrepreneurial roots and founded TLK Fusion.
How do you make money?
I am inherently very business savvy. Through the years, I have learned that having and maintaining many different verticals of financial revenue streams has been my greatest success. Each piece nurtures the other. I surround myself with other savvy business professionals and make wise and lucrative investments. However, I remain personally involved in every decision and use my experience to drive financial success.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There have been numerous occasions where the obstacles I needed to overcome were daunting and challenged my inner spirit. Each time I was presented with these obstacles that left me in doubts and cloudy, I would always take a step back and assess. My passion for what I am doing is what keeps me focused and going. I practice the discipline of persistence and perseverance, understanding that great success is sometimes defined by the hurdles that have been jumped to get to the next stage in business.
How did you get your first customer?
I had been visiting a Dermatologist named Dr. Vicky Rappaport. After many a lengthy discussion with her, she actually provided me with the inspiration that I needed to branch out the business into the brand development side. Shortly after making this decision, she became my first client. We worked together for many years and still have a strong friendship that has stood the test of time.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Currently, I have developed a spectacular team of Business Development Representatives that actively reach out to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and business professionals that are in need of marketing services. Once the connection is made I speak to each new prospect personally to understand what that individual needs so we can customize services that are tailored for them. My personal involvement with these businesses has given me a unique perspective of understanding commonalities in challenges and work to help business owners overcome obstacles and thrive in today’s ever-changing market.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
Recently I had to turn away a brilliant entrepreneur that had an incredible business idea, however, he was not properly funded and could not support the services that my organization could provide. It was personally heartbreaking as he had the passion and the grits to do it but needed to find a financial path forward. I believe this individual will succeed, I just couldn’t take part in his success. I wish him all the best.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I am successful because I maintain a short-term and long-term strategy for growth. I have an inherent ability and charisma to see the future of business and am able to adjust quickly to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
After spending many long hours and having to travel the world while in the financial industry. The moment the organization that I collaborated to create went public and that opening bell rang, I remember thinking how surreal and momentous this was for me.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I know I will continue to thrive by assisting new entrepreneurs and celebrities follow their dreams and passions. The entrepreneurial spirit runs strong in today’s climate and everyone loves a good Hollywood star. The future of my business is built upon the success of these individuals and my personal passion is tied directly to this. I am most excited about the growth my organization has and will continue to experience through the retention of our existing client base. We are seeing milestones currently that are unheard of in the industry.
What business books have inspired you?
I have always been an avid reader and enjoy all types of books, however, my favorites include, The Millionaire Next Door, The Worlds Greatest Sales Man, The Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and 48 Laws of Power. Each one of these has been brought to my attention at a critical time in my business development and each and the ability to drive me in the correct direction. I strongly recommend that everyone reads each of these.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
I have always been a supporter of Apple products and recently converted the entire office into an Apple environment. This simple investment has helped my team streamline processes and work together collaboratively to become more productive versus working off of various equipment.
Do you wake up with the same passion as when you started out?
100% yes. Each day is new and challenging. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that there is no predetermined path to walk. Every decision is precisely calculated to help my business and employees thrive. Helping and assisting fellow entrepreneurs and watching them thrive is extremely rewarding. I can look back at many businesses and say – hey – I had a part in that!
After achieving so much success, why not stop?
I have no desire to slow down or stop. Every day I am presented with far too many new and untried ventures, that it still is thrilling and exciting to drive into the office every day. I have a long life ahead of me, maybe someday I’ll think differently, but for right now, following my passion just feels rewarding and right.