As a kid, I could adequately be described as the nerdy kid who aspired to be cool. I couldn’t play any sports, so I played video games. I didn’t know who Biggie or Tupac were so I just pretended to know. I liked physics, but talked up photography. I bought a LA Kings hat, but didn’t (and still don’t) watch hockey.
Eventually I got genuinely into mountain biking, snowboarding, and electronic gadgets (minidisc players specifically). Pretty soon, I geeked out over the products. What surprised me most was just how good some of the products could be in a certain space.
My first “mountain bike” was a <$100 CCM and my first “snowboard” was a Black Snow snowboard, both from Canadian Tire. For anybody who’s familiar, these are closer to toys than actual sports equipment. I loved mountain biking and snowboarding so much that I got a part-time job in a sporting goods store to geek out as even more. Eventually, I saved up enough money to buy an actual mountain bike and snowboard. Thanks to employee pro-deals, I got a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro and a Burton Balance*. Boy was I happy wannabe cool kid.
These products were so good. Not only did they perform so well, but I could tell they were designed by fanatics for fanatics. I read and learned everything I could about the products and the specs. I collected both the Specialized and Burton catalogs for years.
I was always fascinated about how complex the products could be, how they would constantly improve, and what the possibilities they would enable.
I also loved how products and brands were marketed and appealed to certain audiences (ie. me). I eagerly bought items with prominent brand indicators as I hoped to be a part of the “in-crowd,” and I always found it interesting how some products spoke so strongly to me while I detested others.
I was fortunate to be in Silicon Valley starting from when smartphones and the iPhone burst on the scene and changed our world forever. For years, I worked with smartphone manufacturers to figure out and ship products that were on the leading edge of the rapidly changing mobile phone space. As with almost everyone, I was bedazzled by smartphones and was a heavy user of my iPhone 3G. I found it ridiculously cool to be working on products that had seemingly infinite possibilities.
I left corporate and started Mason Park in 2016. We worked to help brick and mortar retailers have a better experience in this age of e-commerce everything and to connect shoppers with wonderful products and boutiques. It was a whirlwind period full of memories, emotions, and lessons. Ultimately, we failed to hit product market fit in time and we decided to move on.
In 2017 I joined Amazon to work on products to expand Amazon’s international e-commerce presence. In the US, Amazon is a household name and a dominant force in retail. The rest of the world is of course, different from the US. For a lot of countries, it’s still Day 1 for e-commerce and Amazon.
I’m pretty excited since once again I get to geek out over products, imagine the possibilities, figure out how to build and market something, all while being a part of an area that continues to have seemingly infinite possibilities.
*Fun fact: I become such a fan of Burton boards that I tried to purchase a Burton Custom 151 the next year, the 2nd year the then hot new Custom line was available. Alas, it was sold-out and I never got one. In a wonderful twist of fate, in 2016 Burton re-issued the 1997 Burton Custom 151 for its 20th anniversary.
It was a brilliant marketing move to create buzz over Burton’s dominance, stir nostalgia with longtime users, and sell more snowboards at likely the industry’s highest prices. I bought one.