Member Feature: Chase Pion from Bezel

Member Feature: Chase Pion from Bezel

Member Feature
July 25, 2023

Quaid Walker (CEO), Chase Pion (CFO/COO), and Darryl Johnson (CTO), Co-founders of Bezel.

Every month we feature some of our Everything Marketplaces community members to help highlight their story, marketplace journey, and share more about what's ahead.

In this member feature we highlight Chase Pion, one of the Co-founder's of Bezel. Bezel is a marketplace for authenticated watches, which recently announced a $8M Seed round and is quickly scaling as a vertical marketplace.

So what’s your background briefly and what led to the idea for starting Bezel?

I started my career in finance, doing investment banking for JP Morgan before leaving to go work for a few different hedge funds in New York City. My childhood best friend Quaid Walker and I had always dreamed of starting a business together because we had very disparate, but complementary skill sets (he was a product design lead at Google). Coincidentally, we have both always been fascinated by luxury watches. We were both novice collectors and the secondary market was extremely intimidating and challenging for us to navigate, so we asked ourselves "why can’t we build something that changes that?". We then looped in Darryl Johnson, who Quaid had previously built products with at Google and that’s how Bezel was born, with the three of us all as Co-founders.

What were some of the first steps you took to start Bezel? What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?

We started by spending a lot of time deeply understanding the watch industry and how it works. It is incredibly unique and it has completely different dynamics when you compare it to most other product categories. We were extremely lucky that our first hire was a well-respected expert in the space, so his knowledge really helped and he has been absolutely invaluable.

The biggest challenge at the beginning when actually starting the marketplace was user education. We are the only marketplace where an in-house team of authentication specialists looks at every single watch before it reaches the buyer and our standards for authenticity are the highest in the industry. Others say that they only sell "authentic" watches, but often don’t, so we really had to hammer the point home of how and why we are truly different to consumers. Once users understood how we were different and our value proposition, they would often then say, "well then, why would I buy anywhere else?".

What's the problem that you’re solving for and how has building Bezel as a marketplace proven to be a great solution?

It sounds obvious that there should be, but there is not an easy way for people to browse and purchase the world’s watch inventory in a way that makes buyers feel comfortable doing so online. The secondary watch market is rife with horror stories of counterfeit products and the companies in the space today either focus on aggregating supply or focus on delivering a trusted experience. No one has done them both, which is why we’re both unique and different. The marketplace business model allows us to quickly scale inventory in an asset-light way, so that we can showcase the entire breadth of the world’s inventory to buyers. We can also do this with a focus on authentication, so every single watch first comes to us for in-house authentication, which allows us to protect buyers from the nightmare scenarios that are all too common. It’s truly the best of both worlds model, where we can build trust and also scale. This is the big problem that we’re solving for with Bezel, which is also turning into a powerful marketplace business.

How have you approached solving for the cold start problem that we all face as marketplaces in the beginning?

In our case, we quickly learned that supply drove demand acquisition. By developing a product that both looked and felt better than the existing ways sellers sell watches, we could hack the supply side and start to build a marketplace that buyers wanted to explore. We basically elevated the experience for both sides. Once buyers joined and really understood the value proposition of Bezel, we were able to create sales that became meaningful to our sellers. Not only this, but our process was much more streamlined, so they started to prefer selling on Bezel and like that, our flywheel started to spin.

What's been the biggest learning so far?

I think we’ve learned that being nimble and constantly listening to our customers (both buyers and sellers) has been the number one way to take on large incumbents in our space. When you truly listen and understand the pain points of all the stakeholders, you can build the best solution for them in a more natural way that will speak directly to their needs.

You have some really awesome investors onboard, so how has the fundraising journey been so far?

We are incredibly lucky to have amazing investors who really cover the gamut of all the things related to our business and strategy. We can go to different investors for different problems and have also created a relationship where we feel comfortable asking absolutely anything. This has allowed us to take advantage of the vast experience that our investors can provide us with. We are also fortunate to be operating in a passion-driven industry where many investors are also excited about what we are building because they have experienced the big problem that we are solving first-hand. This is all to say that we have great investors with top-tier venture capitalists, watch industry experts, strategic founders & operators, and even celebrities who understand the importance of brand and can help us amplify the Bezel brand and mission.

How big does Bezel get and what’s needed to get there?

We like to say the watch market is a "sneaky huge" and one that most people overlook. It is more than 2x the size of the global sneaker resale market ($25B vs $10B), which both GOAT and StockX have tackled. In the process of doing so, they’ve both created $4B+ businesses with a similar business model for StockX. With this, there isn’t any reason why Bezel can’t become a $10B+ company. Getting there is all about focus and execution. A big problem exists and we believe that we have the solution. We just have to go out there and stay committed to delivering on the promises we’ve made to our buyers and sellers so we can reach our full potential.

What’s exciting and ahead for Bezel that you can share with us?

I think we have just reached the point where we now have a best-in-class marketplace that delivers on all the features both buyers and sellers need to have a great experience. We have also started developing features that we truly believe are unprecedented in our market and could flip the industry on its head. In other words, we are just getting to the fun stuff with the possibilities of what Bezel can look like. Stay tuned for more!

Bonus: What was one watch that you've had listed or sold on Bezel that’s been a favorite?

Since the day we had this MB&F Legacy Machine Perpetual Evo Green listed on Bezel, I have prayed that someone will buy it so we can see it in person during the authentication process. Max Büsser (the founder of MB&F) is a trailblazer in the industry and his watches exhibit an incredible level of technical prowess without sacrificing aesthetics or wearability. This perpetual calendar in the bright green is one of my favorites.

Connect with Chase in the Everything Marketplaces community.