Mark Yegge loves investing in the stock market. He says it has been his passion since he started trading when he was just 12 years old.
Yegge made the Business Observer's 40 under 40 list of top business professionals in 2003, for building NexTrade Holdings, a Wall Street software and development company. Yegge started the company in 1995 and grew it to $30 million in revenue, eventually selling to Citigroup in 2006 to retire. But retiring before the age of 40 didn't last long. “My golf handicap didn't improve enough,” Yegge says.
Yegge now runs a hedge fund company called Intelligrowth, and provides an investment advisory service through stockgenius.com. Three years ago, his portfolio had a 44% return, two years ago a 77% return, and last year an 8.5% return. This year Yegge is shooting to outperform the market again, hoping for a 75% return.
Despite being part of the electronic trading revolution, Yegge thinks it is too easy now for people to trade. “People think you can click a mouse and make money,” he says. “But you need to have a system, a strategy. You wouldn't fly an airplane without having some lessons.” It's important to realize in a world where 95% of traders lose money, Yegge insists.
Yegge has always been an entrepreneur. As a kid, he started a lawn mowing and pool cleaning business, which gave him some money to invest in the stock market. He bought some stock in US Airways, which quickly doubled, and then he learned how to short, and was able to leverage his earnings from that in order to buy his first car, a '75 Camaro, when he was 16 years old.
In college, he started a business during the Swatch craze, importing watches from China that featured school mascot logos like the Florida Gator. He also opened a T-shirt business with his dad and sold copiers for awhile.
Yegge says the best advice he's ever received was from Ben Hill Griffin, when he was giving Griffin a tour of his fraternity at University of Florida and asked for advice for an “entrepreneur wannabe.” Griffin responded, “Save every penny.”
Asked what his best advice to share with other investors is, Yegge says to keep emotions out of it. “Emotions are the enemy of good decisions,” he says. “Nothing teaches you quicker than the stock market.”
Now, one of the 49-year-old's main hobbies is as a member of Gobundance, an organization for healthy, wealthy men who enjoy adventure. The group goes on trips, doing things like 50 miles of paddling through Norway or building homes in South America. It creates a community for like-minded men who are also millionaires. “It's hard for guys who've succeeded to tell people in a different area of life that I just made $1 million on this deal.”
He adds: “We all have the same problems and the same celebrations.”
Blast from the past
Here are some of Mark Yegge's responses to a questionnaire when he was a 40 under 40 award recipient in 2003.
YEARS ON THE GULF COAST: 35
EDUCATION: B.S., business administration, University of Florida, 1986
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Co-founder of Charity for Women to benefit breast cancer research; Florida Breast Cancer Coalition; National Parkinson's Foundation
FAVORITE READING MATERIAL:“Richest Man in Babylon,” by George Clason, and “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie.
FAVORITE VACATION TAKEN, PLANNED OR DREAMED: “To fly my own airplane around the world.”
FIVE-YEAR PROFESSIONAL GOAL: “To raise a significant amount of money toward the cure for breast cancer.”