Interview With Mark Lee
Describe your product or service:
“MarqVision is an artificial intelligence-powered platform designed to automatically detect and remove counterfeit products from ecommerce marketplaces 24/7.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“MarqVision helps global brands identify and remove counterfeits from online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba in over 30 countries. Counterfeiting is a massive and growing threat worldwide, and MarqVision is on a mission to protect intellectual property with technology that allows brands to automatically monitor and protect their IPs. Harnessing image recognition and natural language processing, this AI-powered, anti-counterfeiting SaaS makes it faster than ever before to take down counterfeits.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Venture Capital. We secured a $5 million seed round led by Softbank Ventures and Y Combinator.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Our team is 40 people strong and growing. I founded MarqVision in 2019 while attending Harvard Law, and co-founder DK Lee and I both have previous experience in tech entrepreneurship and launching other successful startups. I was a founding member of fintech company HonestFund — one of the largest fintech companies in the South Korean market. We both went on to graduate from Y Combinator’s 2021 startup cohort.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“When I was working for McKinsey & Company, I realized I wanted to be a builder. Instead of preparing advisory materials for company management, I wanted to have a hands-on role. From there, I left McKinsey in 2015 to be a founding member of a fintech startup. The startup had explosive growth (from zero to $1 billion in assets under management in three years), and that positive experience convinced me to become a founder.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“When I was in law school at Harvard, I learned that counterfeiting is the most significant criminal enterprise in the world, with sales expected to reach $3 trillion in 2023. With the rise of online marketplaces fueling this growth, [there was] nearly $1 trillion in counterfeits sold online in 2020 alone. I knew there were always ample opportunities behind big problems, and anti-counterfeiting was one of those spaces.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“‘Marque’ means brand or trademark in French, and ‘vision’ came from computer vision, the leading technology we use in our product.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“We help global brands take down counterfeits from online marketplaces. Two of the world’s largest luxury conglomerates use our product to automatically monitor and report counterfeits online. Recently, companies in the fashion industry and the entertainment industry (games, media) are signing up.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We believe that our best-in-class products are crucial to our growth. All of our current clients have joined us organically. More specifically, outstanding software and enforcement capabilities in Asian ecommerce allow us to convert our competitors’ long-term clients into our own.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We acquired our first customers organically. All of our clients are mid-market and enterprise companies. The global fashion industry is a small, tight community. When we acquired our first luxury brand client, another brand of the same caliber reached out to us from a different part of the world.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“We focus on our growth by rigorously tracking our ARR (annual recurring revenue).”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“I have two favorite resources: ‘Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine’ (2011, authored by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler) and ‘Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies’ (2018, Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman)”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“‘How I Built This’ with Guy Raz.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“It’s not easy to achieve work/life balance. Knowing that when I finish my workday I’ll get to spend time with my spouse and one-year-old daughter forces me to focus during the day and get off work by 7 p.m.”
How do you stay motivated?
“To stay motivated, I tend to set and track specific and achievable short-term goals. Then, I use the same mechanism to keep the entire team motivated. We have particular revenue goals we want to achieve as a company every month. And every individual team has specific KPIs to ... support our growth every month. We work together to make our goals happen, and that inspires our team.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“To achieve success throughout my career and as a founder, I had to develop the ability to persevere and tolerate risks.”
More on MarqVision
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Mark Lee of MarqVision that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.