Zach's PEN #39: Markee 2.0

2021 Week 16: My partner and CEO, some writing about capitalism, debate, and Louisa's movie-watching habits, and my automatic film processor has arrived

Dear PENpals,

I can't believe it. It's finally here. The app that the Markee team has been working on for the past year is live, and it is good. It's generally hard for me to feel proud of things, but I'm so proud of what our team has created.

This is the core team that built Markee, back in December. The team is bigger now.

Over the next few weeks we're putting the finishing touches on this thing and then the sales push begins. There's also a new, almost-complete website (videos coming soon)!

This is my first experience being part of a team that has built a single product this substantial, and one thing I've learned is that every other app I thought I was building in the past… was never going to happen. I'm grateful now that those projects died on the vine because this team has shown me that I simply don't have the skills to pull off something like this. I have huge, critical gaps (that I didn't know I had at the time) that would have doomed those projects to failure. I learned what I learned from them and I'm glad there was no further investment.

Let me tell you about my friend and partner Craig Doig, the CEO at Markee. He's in the bottom left of that GIF above. He's a private guy so he wouldn't want me saying stuff about him, but I've got to tell you a little bit about Craig.

Craig can visualize the complex superstructure of a company in a way that is truly baffling to me.

I can come up with ideas and strategies and I'm confident that if you put me in a room with a (single) problem and a ticking time-bomb, I can come up with a solution. But as soon as we get into the implementation of that solution and how it relates to the 4,127 other moving parts of a business, a team, a strategy, a pipeline—I'll quickly become overwhelmed and duck out to find another (single) hard problem to solve.

I cannot hold the whole machine in my head at once. Craig can.

He does it naturally. He doesn't even realize how incredibly rare this talent is, but he's got it. Without someone like Craig, a project like Markee couldn't even begin to be successful.

I'll tell y'all more about Markee in a few weeks at the official launch, but in the meantime, you can just think of it as a fully white-labeled meeting, collaboration, and event software, like a self-branded Slack/Zoom combination where the rooms you create have a collaborative Google Doc-like canvas in them.

Anyway, I think our chances are good.

This Week's Posts

I wrote about what I see as the main flaw in the design of our current economic system.

I wrote about how demotivating reasons are.

I wrote about the usual difference between the $500 version and the $5,000 version.

This one is revision of an early PEN in observation of the Apple holiday tomorrow.

I wrote about the greatest business failure of my lifetime.

I wrote about an aspect of my personality that I didn't know was an aspect of my personality.

I wrote about my daughter’s voracious appetite for the same stories over and over and what I’m learning from it.


While I still don't have any beautiful new baby pictures to show you, this beautiful monstrosity has arrived (6 months after it was ordered). You load your film on reels in the dark, attach your tank, fill the thing up with water and chemicals, set your program and press go. It heats up the chemicals, pumps them in and out of the tank, rinses in between, agitates the tank, it even cleans itself (these damned Germans):

I've got my chemicals ready to mix. I need to shoot one more roll of film and I'll be running my first batch (four rolls of beautiful color Kodak film, two 35mm and two medium format).

But since I can't have a PEN go out without a baby picture, lest all my family and friends unsubscribe in protest, here's Wendell from when we used to live across the way from the Holiday Inn Express (technically, Wendell has been to Paris so he’s allowed to wear this sweater).

Much love, PENpals,