Brian Nickerson ’00 on Entrepreneurship, Dartmouth, & the Perfect Morning Routine

Brian Nickerson ’00 on Entrepreneurship, Dartmouth, & the Perfect Morning Routine

Brian Nickerson ’00 is Founder and CEO of MagicLinks, an LA-based startup that enables social commerce on video platforms. A baseball All-American, and a serial entrepreneur, Brian has been immersed in both retail and tech for 10+ years. Brian is also a member of the Dartmouth Founders Project, a community of entrepreneurs committed to supporting Dartmouth. We chatted with Brian to explore his thoughts on startups, Dartmouth, and the perfect morning routine.

While you were at Dartmouth, did you think about becoming an entrepreneur?

Since I was 12 years old, I had a clear focus on two careers: to be a professional baseball player and to be an entrepreneur.

Dartmouth was a launching pad for me in both cases. In baseball, I developed into a draft prospect under Coach Bob Whalen and spent two years in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization as a third baseman immediately after graduation.

Academically, Dartmouth prepared me with experiential learning in a team environment. As an Engineering and Economics double major I had the opportunity to develop skills at both Thayer and in business competitions.

What aspect of your Dartmouth experience do you rely on most as a founder and leader?

Team-oriented collaboration, and the ability to relate to and engage with others. A rigorous desire for lifelong learning and independent thought are skills I enhanced through the Dartmouth education.

So tell us about MagicLinks. What problem do you solve?

MagicLinks empowers YouTube creators with tools for authentic social commerce. MagicLinks technology makes it really easy to share products they love and earn income as their fans shop.

A snapshot of MagicLinks’ impressive network and reach on YouTube. They also work with creators on Instagram.

Has the Dartmouth network been helpful along the way?

Definitely. A Dartmouth alum took a chance and hired me into my first internet-related job at Yahoo!. My first full-time hire for MagicLinks was Schuyler Minert ‘01, a classmate with whom I reconnected at the Dartmouth Entrepreneurship Forum in 2015.

Derek Draper ’02 and I were baseball teammates, and we share a love for both entrepreneurship and surfing. Derek’s leadership of the sales team at Wildfire, which was acquired by Google for $400M, and his launch of Pattern, which he recently sold to Workday, are inspirational examples for me. These examples are entrepreneurship at its best: smart people, high integrity, and outstanding execution — all while having fun. I am fortunate to have Derek's counsel and have him on speed dial when I seek his advice.

What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is like being at the tip of the spear, the cutting edge of change. The challenges one faces are not for the faint of heart — customers, partners, team members, investors, family members, and your immediate community are all impacted by your decisions.

The opportunity to make the world better via entrepreneurship is like an art form which calls on all of your talents. I don’t think I could do or be anything else.

The company has hired more than a dozen employees since launching in 2015.

What are you looking for in building your team?

I look for passion, grit, and integrity. Passion, demonstrated rather than spoken, is absolutely key to making a difference in the world. I want to know what you are passionate about and how you bring your passion forward into the world.

Grit is such an important part of changing both yourself and the world. When times get tough, how do you react? Being in a startup is a nearly constant experience of discovering challenges and finding ways to embrace them to move forward, and if my team can do that with passion, grit, and integrity I feel pretty good about where we end up.

How do you manage your energy during the ups ands downs of the startup journey?

I need to take care of my physical and mental health in order to be the best leader I can possibly be. Surfing is my new sporting passion after finishing my baseball career — I surf in Malibu as often as there are waves and my schedule allows.

I am also active with yoga, road biking, pilates, running, and hiking. Exercise is a great avenue to feeling good both physically and mentally. I have a regular morning routine, inspired in part by Tim Ferriss, which includes a cold shower, a 20-minute meditation, a 5-minute journaling exercise to express things I am grateful for and what I want the day to bring, and of course a fresh cup of coffee. When I struggle, I remember this simple saying from the Navy Seals: win the morning, win the day.


Learn more about MagicLinks on their website, or check them out on AngelList.