Mike Costache Director, Global Expansion

Mike Costache
Director, Global Expansion

Mike never liked being put in a box so he spent the last 20 years as an entrepreneur, investment banker, author, motivational speaker, university professor, angel investor, and as a “professional beggar" and fundraiser for various children causes. Having traveled to 54 countries, Mike is truly an international renegade always willing to jump on a plane to explore new opportunities.

Having successfully failed at over 200 ideas and ventures and having built a number of profitable businesses, Mike enjoys mentoring CEOs of startups, opening doors to new clients and investors and all the way to finding the right exit. Since 2011, Mike is a member of Tech Coast Angels (TCA), a network of 300 angel investors who have invested $175 million in 300 deals and raised over $1.5 billion from VCs. 

Currently, Mike serves as founding CEO of Krowd Mentor (crowdfunding agency), Chargeback Armor (credit card chargeback re-presentment & analytics platform) and TimeWare Solutions (smart home & office automation).

Previously, Mike founded GeniusGiver, a crowdfunding and social network platform allowing anyone to become a fundraiser for his/her favorite charity WITHOUT begging for donations from friends and while monetizing their social graphs at the same time. This concept is too disruptive for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to understand its value and after an investment of $200,000, Mike decided to let it hatch further before bringing it to market.

Since its inception in 2005, Mike has been a proud member of Karma International, a philanthropic social business network. In 2012, Mike was honored with the Member of the Year Award for his dedication and support of Karma’s charities, recruiting new members from all over the world and for “paying it forward” by helping others achieve their goals. Over the past decade, Mike has been instrumental in recruiting 25% of all of Karma’s members by first bringing them value and benefits and then inviting them to join Karma where other members can also benefit from their friendship and expertise in the fields they activate in.

From 2003 to 2016, Mike served pro bono on the Board of Directors and as the Director of Fundraising & Strategy for Blue Heron Foundation, a charitable organization which raised $1,800,000 from 1,000 donors for various projects benefiting 3,000 Romanian and Moldovan orphans, including a program that awarded 300 teenagers university scholarships. Additionally, from his Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budgets (2006-2009), Mike contributed $250,000 to charitable projects managed by United Way, UNICEF, Friends of the National Museum of Romania, H.R.H. Princess Margarita of Romania Foundation, Ovidiu Rom Association, and Marie Curie Hospital for Children in Bucharest.

In 2006 Mike established Leo & Leo in Romania, providing management and franchise representation services to Maserati, Segway, NetJets, NetSuite, PrivatSea, Sunseeker Yachts, Rockstar Energy Drink, Orgil Greenhouses, Marsh, and Miss Universe. Total sales reached €60 million. 

Since 2009, Mike's main focus has been on advising and investing in startup technology companies in both Romania and California. In November of 2011, after a year-long negotiation with Adevarul Holding (Romania's largest print media company at the time) Mike sold a minority stake in tetatet.ro (the LinkedIn of Romania) to this conglomerate, which at the time was owned by billionaire Dinu Patriciu. Mike and the original founders remain majority shareholders in the social network.

From 2005 to 2008, Mike served as Country Manager in Romania for Rockstar Energy Drink, the 2nd biggest energy drink in the USA. Mike secured a distribution deal with Interbrands, Romania's biggest distributor of FMCG products with over $1.6 billion in revenues. Romania was the first country Rockstar expanded to outside of North America, and today is found in 35 countries through Pepsi's distribution network.

From 2000 to 2006, Mike served as the Founding CEO of Pioneer TeleCare, a e-commerce company distributing office products and other consumer goods. Total revenues reached $4 million and the company employed 20 employees between its office in Los Angeles and India. In 2006, Mike sold his 50% stake to his business partner and moved to his native country to capitalize on Romania's upcoming entry into the European Union in January of 2007. 

In 2008, Ziarul Financiar (Romania's top financial newspaper) named Mike one of the Top 1,000 business people in Romania. In 2010, Polirom published Mike’s life story in "Why did I return to Romania", a collection of 40 stories of Romanians who went abroad to study and/or work and returned home after many years to make positive changes in their native country. Mike was first published in the 2007-acclaimed book, "Open an Online Business in 10 days," published by Entrepreneur Press, the publishing arm of Entrepreneur Magazine.

From 2000 to 2003, Mike was a Senior Associate at WestPark Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment-banking firm where his responsibilities included identifying and evaluating new investment opportunities and assisting clients with strategic alliances. Previously, from 1998 to 2000, Mike was an Associate at The Interlink Group, a Los Angeles-based investment and merchant-banking firm, which specialized in infrastructure projects in India, Pakistan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia. For six months during 2002, Mike was also an Associate at Millennium Capital Partners, a Beverly Hills-based merchant banking firm and venture capital firm, where his responsibility was to source a strategic equity investment for Geely Auto, China's biggest non-government owned automaker. Mike also initiated discussions with the CEOs and board members of all the major auto brands in the US and Europe and Geely ended up buying Volvo from Ford in 2010.

From 2000 to 2005, Mike served as an Ambassador of the Los Angeles Venture Association (LAVA) as well as a member of the Organizing Committee for the annual Investment Capital Conference (ICC), which at the time was the largest annual investment capital conference in the United States. In 2002 and 2003, respectively, Mike also served on the Board of Directors of the China World Capital Forum (WCF), which had a $1.4 million budget from the Province of Nanjing’s Tourism and Promotion Board. In 2004, together with three friends from Los Angeles, Mike co-founded the Romanian-American Professionals Network (RAPN), a network of like-minded business people of Romanian origin living in the United States.

Mike holds a degree in Economics (1999) from Pepperdine University (Malibu, California), a Certificate in Negotiations, Arbitration, and Mediation (2003) from Pepperdine's School of Law and has completed the Program on Negotiations for Senior Executives (2008) from Harvard Law School. Mike completed studies in business, history and law in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Israel and Switzerland.

From 2002 to 2006, Mike served on Pepperdine's Alumni Board of Directors, the Alumni Career Advisory Council and was an Advisor to Pepperdine's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) chapter. In 1998, Mike founded the Young Professionals Global Network (YPGN), a non-profit mentoring organization, which currently has over 2,000 members in 70 countries. During 2012-2013, Mike served as Chairman of the Advisory Board of Pepperdine University’s master degree in Social Entrepreneurship and Change. Mike also currently serves on the Board of Pepperdine's Alumni Leadership Council since 2012.

In 2003, at the age of only 25-years, Mike was given the great privilege of teaching at Pepperdine University's Undergraduate Business Program for two semesters. His honorary fee was donated back to Pepperdine as Mike believes that teaching should be done without monetary compensation. The course he designed, "Success 101," prepared college students to network into their dream job or to start their own business ventures. During the summer of 2003, Mike offered over 100 young professionals from 33 universities from all over the world a 5-day "Success 101 Business Academy" where the participants had the opportunity to be mentored by 37 top executives, including five self-made multi-millionaires.

Over the past decade, Mike has enjoyed over 4,000 media appearances and was featured in USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week, Malibu Times, China Central TV (CCTV), Business Week, Men's Health, Top Gear and many others.

Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1977, Mike moved to Israel together with his family in 1988 and later migrated to the United States in 1992. Mike is fluent in Romanian, Hebrew and English and has basic knowledge of French.