My name is Mark Anthony.
Born in NY 1987, raised in SoFlo, living in Okeechobee.
I am a first generation American, my mother (from Honduras) and father (from Argentina) are my inspiration for hard work, coming to America with hardly anything and building a life from scratch. I grew up in Palm Beach county and spent a lot of time at Lake Worth beach, it’s also where I first learned to surf. 🏄
In 2012, I graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s in Anthropology. It’s ironic actually because when I was a kid I wanted to grow up and be an archaeologist, mostly because of the Indiana Jones films. Before that, I changed my major many times (like 7) and even dropped out for a year but I decided to go back and study I truly enjoyed learning about, prehistoric humans. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with such a degree, but I figured it would pan out somehow and studying just to get a job didn’t vibe with me. I ended up not focusing in archaeology (archaeology is a sub-study of anthropology) but instead I focused on cultural anthropology and applied anthropology. I liked how the discipline encouraged me to have an open mind and consider how others perceive things.
I truly loved my last two years in college, I made myself get more involved with the student government and events. I became the representative for multicultural student organizations and event support for cultural events. I was fortunate enough to secure a job right after graduating from FAU. I read that anthropology could be applied in the business world, so I started joining business clubs at the university, one in particular was the American Marketing Association. One day, I sat in on a talk given by an executive at South Florida’s largest ad agency, Zimmerman. I was fascinated by the subject he discussed, it happened to be how social research could be used to improve customer experience. I approached him and gave my pitch and had an interview the next week.
I was grateful for the opportunity and proud of my accomplishment to have such employment. Two months in, though, I started to feel unfulfilled like something wasn’t right. I didn’t find the meaning in my work; it just felt like it was lacking purpose. I was not sure what I was looking for, but I knew it was something that had more meaning for me. Fast forward, maybe that’s why product design fits perfectly for me, it feels savvy enough yet meaningful – I’ll come back to that.
After Zimmerman I moved around a bit, but I did end up working for a company, Domain Holdings, that needed lead generation. It was my tech job, brokering domain names, and I was promoted to a broker position in about six months. I loved experiencing the internet in this new way, it was like virtually travelling the world as I did business with people in many other countries. It was also, indirectly, my first experience diving into the meme world, although I didn’t know what it was called at the time. My favorite meme was this Star Trek GIF, I was searching a domain for a client and it was the only thing that displayed on the URL at the time; I died laughing lol I think I could still watch that GIF for hours. Working at Domain Holdings was also my first glimpse into the startup world and after working with founders and learning more about their lifestyle I swore it off – yet another ironic moment in my life. I loved helping with domain name acquisitions, I feel like there is a more meaningful experience helping a buyer than a seller. Working with buyers, a lot of times company founders, gave me insights into how these kinds of leaders think and operate.
In early 2015, Bella was born. Experiencing child birth, not just the main event but the entirety of the journey and even the few days after, would be my self-acclaimed rite into manhood. I think it was the finishing touch for my transition into adult maturity. Seeing a child go through their “firsts” is amazing and an experience of the miracles of life. Bella loves dancing, she has had an affinity for music and movement, even in her infant years. Bella and I enjoy going on adventures together, we do a lot of stuff together. We enjoy camping, backpacking, road trips, theme parks, trying new foods and watching Dragonball Z.
Late 2015, I started caring for foster children with my then-wife. An organization that had families live in provided-homes on a ranch were looking for a new family to care for foster children 24/7. I think there had to be a bit of hesitancy, if there was I didn’t feel it because it was something I believed in my core I was meant for this. It filled that sense of purpose I was seeking, it was very meaningful and I truly enjoyed the memories made with the kids I cared for. I took care of boys exclusively, each home was designated as either a boys or girls home, and I loved the culture we cultivated in our home. We played video games together, went camping, watched YouTube videos and recreated Fortnite dances. Video games were a great way to bond with the boys, it’s actually how we continue to stay in touch too with online gaming. I’ve been asked a lot how do I deal with the kids leaving, it’s not easy and sometimes I didn’t feel like some were returning to the best circumstances, but learning to let go and have faith they will be okay is a learned skill. On the brighter side, I have been able to see some awesome adoptions and testify in court on the behalf of children’s betterment.
2018 was rough – all time low really. I think as men we are expected to “suck it up” and showing emotions can be signs of weakness. Lately I’ve seen a lot more encouragement on social media for men’s mental health. I think it is important for men and women to learn and recognize the signs of narcissism and gas lighting. I was in denial of infidelity, sometimes when you love someone you can’t bring yourself to think the worst from that person. I learned about these things after going through them. The deep hurt that accompanies the thoughts that everything is your fault are unbearable, and the suffering robs you of your daily joy so the only thing you look forward to are the moments when you are sleeping.
In my deepest sorrow I found peace in a Buddhist parable called “The King with Four Wives”. In short, the story speaks on how everything in life is fleeting, including those closest to us, but the one thing we carry with us into the next life is our soul. And the self reflection began, am I nourishing my soul? My thoughts and feelings of worthlessness were not nourishing for my soul, that reflection and realization was the beginning of my healing. This was also the moment in time when I took weightlifting more seriously, it was something that helped me feel better and look forward to. I hope that someday I can create something for men in abusive relationships, something that let’s them know they don’t have to “tough it out” for the wrong reason.
In 2020 my divorce was finalized and fresh life was breathed into me. It was like a second chance at creating the life I wanted to have and parenting the way I felt was right and that Bella deserved. I started to think of what was next for my career. I had been doing domain brokerage as a contractor for the few years prior, so I kept investing myself into that. I started a couple businesses that failed and tried my hand at some side hustles, nothing was really enticing. I hit that mind block again, the same feeling as I had about ten years prior, that feeling of a lack of purpose. I also knew that anything that required repetitive amounts of my time, like packing products for mailing, was not what I wanted to do with my time. I enjoyed my free time and I wanted to have the flexibility to continue traveling with Bella and experiencing new things for myself as well. I wanted something I could deep dive into work with but also be able to retreat and have reprieve. It was one day at a Barnes & Nobles that I found a book that changed my mindset forever.
I think I had been chasing wealth and focusing on making money. This book shifted my internal paradigm. I would always think that making money would let me create solutions to the problems I want to solve. If I, instead of focusing on making money, focused on creating solutions to problems then the money would follow. This shift in mindset was the beginning for me diving into the startup and product design world. It was an “aha!” moment for me because I could find that purpose I was looking for, because I learned that I could create it!
I started to think of what kind of problems I could solve. I was ambitious, I admit, but I had a good sense of being realistic too. I came to the problem that affected my mother during the pandemic. She needed to get a replacement title for a vehicle but she did not want to expose herself to the crowds of people at the DMV office. That’s when the idea started to modernize the DMV experience for customers. It was also at the same time that I was trying to sell a domain I personally own, PlateRenewal.com, to a company in the tag renewal space. They didn’t buy it so I decided why don’t I try to provide a similar service but better.
I embarked on a prototype and named the company Refetch. After meeting with state officials I concluded that the skills and development means I had were not capable of creating such a product. So there was a pivot for another product. I met a tech co-founder out of Chicago via an online co-founder matching platform. We vibed and I flew to Chicago to meet him. The future was looking bright. But then the war in Ukraine started and my Ukranian co-founder ghosted me. I was left with no co-founder and no product. So I decided to build the MVP myself and get at least one county to adopt my product.
It was July 2022 and I had an MVP I created with a respectable no-code tool, so I hit the road with my car camping setup. I drove around Florida trying to get my first client. I used my LA Fitness membership to shower and get my workouts in and Starbucks locations were my office space. I didn’t have success so I returned home. I pitched to my local county before and they turned it down, but I decided to try again since I had something I could demo. They didn’t end up wanting the product, but instead they saw a feature that was really interesting for them. So they asked if I could provide a way to help them schedule driving tests – I said YES. I finally had a client!
During the lulls in the product development for Refetch I dabbled with a protein tracker I had created. I created it for myself actually and to give myself experience with launching a native app. After a few months since launch I noticed other people were using it too. So I decided to revamp the product into something I could really use and hopefully others would continue to find benefit from. Scoopful became a diet AND exercise tracker – it was the tracker I imagined a tracker should be. I’m really into bodybuilding and I love going to the gym so I genuinely love this product and the features it provides users, like myself.
It was January 2023 when I launched the new version of Scoopful, and there was a delay in the development for Refetch. I had received an email for applications to be submitted for a startup accelerator, called Starter Studio, out of Orlando. I twice applied for Y Combinator in the past and was rejected, which ended up being a good thing because I was really happy with the smaller cohort size at Starter Studio. I gained so much from the accelerator, knowledge I could apply to Scoopful and Refetch. I learned to formalize my ideas and create definitive directions for my products.
At the present time (July 2023)…
I’m happy to say Refetch’s first product, DriveFlorida, is live and at the time of writing over 250 appointments have been booked on the platform. I’m using this time to gain feedback and fix bugs and when school starts I’ll work on more features so I can hopefully on-board another county before the end of year. Scoopful needs some work after doing some user research, a better way to track diet similar to MyFitnessPal. I finished my UX certification program. I continue working with foster children on a part-time basis and I help with the occasional domain name acquisition. I’ve been enjoying summer with Bella, going on trips and adventures along with some quality time at home.
Thanks for reading, check back again later to see what’s new!