It was a matter of when, not if. Global forces were pushing Mark Redlus’ company ImageTree towards a huge opportunity. ImageTree’s technology would be the gold standard for validating forest assets being used for carbon emissions off sets. Mark and his venture capital backers had already pivoted once. Listen in and find out what prevented them from pivoting a second time to save their company.
Coming out of the Univ. of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School with a BS in Management, Mark jumped right into the entrepreneurial side of the technology industry. He launched Red Sector A which was acquired by CoreTech. At CoreTech he rose to become the CEO. From there he moved on to ImageTree as employee number one. After almost five years at ImageTree, Mark moved Yallingup BioEnergy where he worked on a variety of clean tech investment projects. Shifting out of clean tech, Mark moved to MemVu to become their CEO.
Most recently, Mark has joined Polaris Health Directions. Polaris Health Directions develops and markets behavioral health outcomes assessment and management systems to help deliver better health outcomes at a reduced cost. Polaris systems are designed for use by health care providers, managed care organizations, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies, and focus on addressing the impact mental health conditions have on physical health and an individual’s welfare.
Mark is an avid outdoors man and spends as much time as possible snowboarding, whitewater kayaking and surf kayaking.
Highlights & Take Home Lessons
- Mark’s company, ImageTree, was built to pursue two markets that failed to mature. First was the forestry management application. Potential customers faced a serious economic penalty if ImageTree’s product showed that their prior data was significantly wrong. Better, faster and cheaper doesn’t sell well if it exposes potential users’ prior failings.
- The second target market, carbon cap and trade monitoring, assumed that long-term change mandated and enforced by government policy was certain. Mark highlights that lots of smart people believed cap and trade was a certain future. It wasn’t. Entrepreneurs must understand what’s often referred to as “stroke of the pen” risk. Policy makers can eliminate a markets as rapidly as they create them.
- Entrepreneurs must be sensitive to the pace at which their markets are ascending. If your market isn’t ascending, you need the cash to be flexible and pivot. Mark emphasized that awareness of market development must inform capital raising. ImageTree took on debt prior to having a firm footing. This along with venture capital fund dynamics greatly limited ImageTree’s options.
- On the operational front, Mark explained how he and his team underestimated the complexity of operating internationally as a small company. Finding local partners makes or breaks entrepreneurs.
As an entrepreneur, Mark leans on a group of three advisors that can objectively filter his ideas and assumptions. He believes the natural tendency is for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their ideas and businesses. Success requires objective, blunt assessment of ideas and options. With that feedback, entrepreneurs need the courage to pivot their business or abandon