Mark Dhillon
IMPACT INVESTING

Mark Dhillon

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Co-Founder | Strategy & Ops Leader | Ex VC & Angel Investor

Investors also need to pitch – Mark Dhillon

“Because if they create a solution that solves that problem, they can potentially solve a big problem in the world and help a lot of people.”

ABOUT

Builder and Generalist with experience on both sides of the table, as an Operator and Investor. I love creating new products, solving complex problems, and crafting innovative business strategies that navigate untested waters. While I specialize in leading early stage startups (Pre-Seed to Series B), I’ve worked with and advised public companies with $1B+ Market Caps.

• Skillsets: Operational Design and Process Optimization (I Build for Scale), Project Management, GTM Strategy, Strategic Planning (Goals/Initiatives/Resourcing/OKRs), Fundraising, Executive Leadership, Strategic Partnerships, Product Design & Development, Regulatory Risk, Government Affairs

• Vertical Expertise: B2B SaaS, B2B & B2C Marketplaces, Future of Work, AgTech, E-commerce, DTC Brands, Industrial Engineering, Pharma, Venture Capital

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Mark Dhillon

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to the Supporters Fund Ask An Angel. I’m your host, Jeffery Potvin and today we want to welcome with open arms and super excited Mark Dhillon. Thank you very much for joining us today.
Mark: It’s a pleasure.
Jeffery: Awesome. Well the way we like to kick it off and j p right into things Mark is, if you could share a little bit about yourself, your background, the startups you’ve been with, the companies you’ve built, all these great things that you’ve done up to today and then one thing about you that nobody would know.
Mark: Sure, a quick bio for myself. I grew up in Ottawa with a family of engineers. I guess something not really enough people know about me is, I’m a skateboarder. So, I’ve been skateboarding since the age of 10. I still skate to this day. So, it’s very interesting. I worked on bay street skating in the office. But that’s all other than the story. i did a couple degrees in
Engineering, realized it wasn’t really for me, so I did an MBA. That’s how I felt about the whole tech startup world. I started my own apparel ecommerce brand. And then after that, joined like an early stage startup to raise series a and then pretty much after that i joined
the dc arm of canopy growth. so i was a director there and now more recently within the past year, I went to start my own company. That’s still in stealth but we’ll discuss more information soon.
Jeffery: Very cool. And with this brand, company, that you created, how did that start and what got you interested in creating your own business?
Mark: It was like Skateboarding. It is very entrepreneurial in general. Everyone started their own skateboard brands, their own t-shirts and a couple of my friends and myself. We went to Thailand for basically like a winter escape and we started buying all the fake ray-bans to bring back to our friends because they couldn’t afford the actual ray-bans. so from there, they’re just like, why don’t we just start our own sunglasses company. Why don’t we just go on Alibaba, source some different samples, make some simple designs and then sell it to our friends? knockoffs of ray-bans to be honest but we had our own branding. We installed skate shops. so that was the initial idea about five and a half years ago and we ran it for over that time and we had national distribution. It basically gave me the foundation of how to operate a business and manage it.
Jeffery: awesome and i think those things are always super helpful and then you’ve been working with incubators and other venture groups. so it seems like at the same time while you’re building your own business, you’re heavily involved in the startup community as well.
Mark: yeah for sure. It’s always something that’s attracted me. again going back to skateboarding as my base, i was attracted to the big thinkers, the ones who weren’t like
I was really afraid to fail. and I found that same culture and tech. and That’s why I really gravitated towards it and that’s why I’ve been in the middle of it for the past six or seven years. It’s just like all my friends work in tech. It’s something I really love to read about in my spare time and in general too it’s just like you work on really complicated ideas, really smart people. so it’s always exciting.
Jeffery: no that is. and then as you mentioned before, that you went into canopy rivers and a few others like Farm Lead. What drew you to it? Sounds like as you were building through, you’ve got all this great educational background. you started to run your own business, started to run it to go into other big businesses. What learning did you gain from those more scalable companies that you’re able to relate back to this early stage community?
Mark: I think in general, what I wanted was the most amount of experience possible. and joining farm lead at the seed stage and helping them scale, go from like eight employees to 60, was an experience that I really wanted. and I was also working in a generalist position. so it was even better for myself. so those two years were foundational for everything that i’ve done since then. and then on the venture capital side, i just want to get more experience on the capital markets to the other side of the table. It’s like how it looks from tech sitting in a table with VCs? How do they view the world? How do they view the ecosystem? So, getting that really rounded out, like I think , early on in my career, was really important to me. And then I took that to start a company. So, that was like the long-term goal to start a company eventually. And I just wanted to see as much as I could before then.
Jeffery: Amazing. and I like that when you’re just talking about that, you want to see it through the other eye, the other lens that’s out there. and I want to explore that because I don’t think a lot of people take that risk or really understand what it takes to learn what another business is going through. so you mentioned scaling. Then you mentioned the VC venture side. There’s a lot to both of those businesses and there’s a lot to unpackage. so maybe you can talk about that scaling side which is what? did you learn while you were working on a scaling company? because at the time you had built your own company so maybe you weren’t scaling so much on that side. and then you pay into a fast growing company and all of a sudden you’re a generalist and you’re scaling. What does that mean?
Mark: I think in general, it’s just like you’re throwing yourself in the deep end. And you have to do so much in a short amount of time. and there’s a lot of expectations there. so i think it just really bled me from a really young perspective like a young part of my career. but what it does at the same time, it’s like it’s the best amount of learning. It’s like learning times five in most careers. and that’s what really excited me about the early stage scaling. But like most people, it’s like no, it’s extremely hard. it’s extremely hard to go from the pre c to the series a. and once you hit series b, you really have those metrics. you like the product market fit. then you have an engine and then you figure it out from there. but really getting to that point where like your product market