Justin Lee – Co-founder and CEO of Vessyl

[quote style=”boxed”]This is not a strategy, but is helpful. I genuinely really care about everyone at the company. Their happiness is something I prioritize.[/quote]

Justin is responsible for the overall product strategy and direction of the Vessyl. As CEO, he led the creation and is the principal co-inventor of Mark One’s sensing technology.

Prior to co-founding this company, Justin was the Director of Special Projects at the Human Media Lab. During this time, he led the creation and co-invented the multi-touch interactive beverage container.

Where did the idea for Vessyl come from?

The values of health, technology, philanthropy, and innovation are extremely important to me. My grandfather was a big inspiration. He worked as a physician at a philanthropic hospital in China and pioneered the use of new X-ray technologies in the 50s.

As a kid, I was obsessed with all futuristic things. My drawings as a young child were things of the future. In high school, my interests in medicine were geared towards healthcare of the future.

This continued in college, where I studied biomedical computing because I wanted to make an impact on health at a degree of scale.

In my later years in college, I worked at a research lab where we integrated computers into different objects. Some peers desired to put a computer in wristband form factors or eyeglass form factors.

I wanted to put a computer into a beverage vessel form factor — an object that has been around since the beginning of the human race. Combining this with my desire to make an impact on global health — the Vessyl was created.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As you can imagine, I no longer have typical days, as business and talent needs tend to dictate where my time is spent. I do prioritize one-on-one time with each member of the company to keep a pulse on all aspects of the business and to continuously drive the company mission and vision.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Once there is a particular idea that we desire to bring to life, I talk to the brilliant members of our team — in groups and individually. A great effort then is made to ensure the idea aligns with our mission and values. When we agree on the specific focus – the respective team executes.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Not surprisingly, the emerging trend of implementing technology to improve our overall health is very powerful. We saw this first with activity trackers like Jawbone and fitbit, which tracks and reports your movement in real time. Now we’re bringing this concept to our consumption and passively tracking everything you drink, to help solve the other half (we call it the bigger half) of the health equation.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I constantly remind myself of my role: to position our company for short, medium, and long term success. This means I am laser-focused on ensuring we have the right resources and leadership to execute efficiently and effectively.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I have been blessed to have a lot of different jobs starting from a young age — from stockperson, to cashier, to window cleaner to later on — entrepreneurial ventures collaborating with leading minds in design, business, and technology. Every experience helped shape my thinking and who I am. Every job was great.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Every experience has shaped who I am. I wouldn’t do anything differently.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I remind myself that I am extremely blessed and fortunate to lead brilliant people who believe in my crazy vision.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

This is not a strategy, but is helpful. I genuinely really care about everyone at the company. Their happiness is something I prioritize.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not having enough focus. My mentor and good friend taught me how to filter and focus.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A Jamaican patty food truck.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I’m constantly thinking about work and am always on. So, sometimes I like to watch movies in the theatre by myself. It’s fun, relaxing, and one of the few times when my phone is off.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

This is non-work related software — I am really competitive at Mario Kart, like really competitive.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I really liked Lean In. It’s a book about startups, leadership, marriage, and parenting — all in one.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Throughout the years, I have been influenced by some great people. Presently, the people who inspire me the most are the members of the Mark One team.


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