In this episode, Mark de Lange – founder of Ace & Tate – is sharing the story behind the brand that revolutionised the eyewear e-commerce industry in Europe. He is explaining how branding was crucial for the expansion of Ace & Tate and how he overcame the challenge of finding the right VC investors. Mark reveals his management style and how he is working with his team to offer to his customers high quality, thoughtfully designed glasses at a fair price.

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Mark de Lange – Founder & CEO @Ace & Tate

Mark de Lange founded Ace & Tate in 2013 and resides as the company’s CEO. Apart from his general management role, he is an active force in the brand’s decisions and continues to drive its underlying philosophy: to offer high-quality, thoughtfully designed glasses at a fair price. Mark is driven by building a long-lasting, direct-to-consumer brand that places responsible actions at its core.

8 years later, Mark has taken the brand from a startup to an omnichannel company with over 70 stores in 10 countries across Europe (and counting). Looking to the future his company-wide mission is to become the leading eyewear brand for Gen Y & Z, in Mark’s eyes focusing on responsibility is a key initiative to achieve this. Ultimately, he has always aimed to disrupt the eyewear industry, now striving to be a positive engine for change within it.

Key Highlights

7:45 – Mark – “I’m trying to get other people in a position where they can actually do the stuff. That is something that I really needed to learn, to give other people space to do their jobs and to surprise me and to do way better than I could.”

10:27 – Mark – “We as a consumer-focused country have never been service-oriented. When you go to the US everything is really service-oriented and in the Netherlands we really have some catching up to do.”

13:24 – Mark – “Our first key hire was someone who is very experienced in building customer experience teams. We saw that it is where companies are dropping the ball and that really paid itself back.”

20:01 – Mark – “If I look back now, I would spend more time on becoming more self-aware of where my strengths and weaknesses lie. And also do that for the founding team and hire people against that. I would have earlier spent the time to hire experienced talent on a couple of key roles for the business.”

30:08 – Mark – “Our angels helped me to get the narrative right and to build the right plan that also would be attractive to invest in.”

38:11 – Mark – “I think it is valid to build a strong European foundation first. Only when the business is ready for it and when we have the right team in place, and the right structure, and the right processes, that only then, we would go across the pond to a very different market.”

 42:18 – Mark – “We’ve always spent a lot of time finding the right partners. Not necessarily business partners who would own the business with us, but the right partners on the ground to build the brand with us, and to find the right first individuals we would engage with, and the right first customers.”

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