Some people have the itch to start a business from a young age. Dieter Marlovics is one of those people. At 14, he launched his very first business, and it’s safe to say that venture started him on the path to becoming the accomplished technology entrepreneur he is today.
Marlovics is the founder and CEO of ReallyColor, LLC, a Chicago-based business launched in 2015 that transforms pictures into coloring pages and custom coloring books. Gift cards for ReallyColor have been sold in major retail brands like Toys “R” Us and Sam’s Club, and the business has become an effective marketing tool for hotels, resorts, and bakeries.
With a passion for facilitating innovation and investing, Marlovics is also the CEO of RoboSig, Inc., a fintech company specializing in autonomous and AI-supported currency trading strategies.
If you’re an entrepreneur in the tech space, this interview isn’t one to miss!
Allow me to introduce Founder and CEO, Dieter Marlovics…
Hi there! My name is Dieter Marlovics, and I am the founder and CEO of ReallyColor, LLC.
Launched in June 2015, ReallyColor is a Chicago-based business that has developed patented technology which allows you to turn your photos into coloring pages and custom coloring books (U.S. Pat. 9,569,857 9,602,835).
Apart from being wholesome fun for young children and a unique way to share memories, ReallyColor books add lots of unique fun and are conversation starters at parties, weddings, events, or just during family time at home.
Businesses such as hotels, resorts, realtors, camps, bakeries, etc. use our ReallyColor coloring books as effective marketing tools. Think about it, if you lay a coloring book on the kitchen counter or coffee table, how long do you think it will sit there? Quite a while, which is what makes it an effective marketing tool.
Digital and physical ReallyColor Gift Cards have been sold in retail brands such as Toys “R” Us, BJ’s Wholesale, Sam’s Club, and others. ReallyColor custom coloring books are the fastest-growing part of the business.
I am also the CEO of a very different fintech company, RoboSig, Inc. Here, we’ve developed autonomous, systematic, and AI-supported market-neutral currency trading strategies, coupled with automated risk management, to generate the highest and most consistent risk-adjusted returns ever seen in the FX industry. The goal is to use this technology for every major asset class.
RoboSig was co-founded by our CIO, Richard Preschern, who was an international competitive tennis player in Europe and also went on to play for Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He developed the concept of our FX trading strategy while he was a successful FX futures and options trader in Chicago.
He originally created the concept as a risk management tool to hedge his market-making endeavors. At that time, it would have required a team of quantitative engineers to execute the first version of the RoboSig FX strategy manually on any sort of scale.
RoboSig has delivered multiple FX trading strategies and a variable yield cash management alternative that has delivered consistently superior returns at low risk when compared with traditional solutions.
In the world of finance, a lengthy live track record is paramount. Simulated backtests are valuable in how they present the potential of a trading strategy, but when you are looking to find third-party capital allocations without a live track record, you will have to find a partner willing to take a chance on you.
The initial live client track for RoboSig launched in 2016, and the results were phenomenal. Between then and March 2020, RoboSig fiduciary clients had allocated over $270 million of their own capital (or their investors’ capital) onto the RoboSig strategy.
When Covid hit the markets in 2020, many of our clients were greatly affected by the volatility, and so decided to shut down many of their funds. Unfortunately, while the RoboSig strategy was able to handle the Covid surprise quite well, considering, 2020 was definitely the year the business was in survival mode. RoboSig did survive and is currently executing an aggressive growth phase.
RoboSig’s thesis is that the global monetary system acts as a giant ‘rubber band ball.’ When pieces are stretched, they are always, at least partially, pulled back. RoboSig seeks to mine this global stability that allows the world economic engine to function.
I’m an experienced technology entrepreneur, launched my first business when I was 14 years old, and get great satisfaction from investing in, creating, and working with other entrepreneurs to facilitate innovation, form a cohesive execution plan, make an investment, and provide positive energy to help take that first step and get through the inevitable difficult times.
While I was born in Chicago, my family has Austrian roots, and so growing up, I spent the first couple years of my life, as well as many summers, in Vienna. Through my teenage years, I played competitive tennis, went on to play for Northwestern University, and dabbled in the US professional satellite circuit. I graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.
In 1997, I co-founded HyperMeals.com, which was my first true technology company, to enable online food ordering from nearby restaurants for delivery. I was later introduced to a small Chicago floor brokerage firm, which didn’t even have email, let alone any significant technology whatsoever, and saw this as a golden opportunity. After some discussions with the CEO of Gelber Group, LLC, I went on to become partner and CIO for the better part of the next decade. I never stopped pushing via my incessant entrepreneurial drive, and Gelber Group developed into a highly successful international algorithmic trading and software firm with over $100 million in capital and more than nine data centers in three different countries. I sold my ownership stake in 2011.
High-quality and accessible customer service is the most important thing you can ever implement to maximize customer retention and word-of-mouth marketing. Customers should feel like they have “special access” to your business, and their inquiries should never take longer than 24 hours to answer, though same-day responses are what your real goal should be.
If you think implementing this is expensive, it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need a call center, and it could be done exclusively over email, which gives you flexibility on where you are, whether you are answering via your laptop, your mobile device, etc.
ReallyColor is still going strong and spends most of its time servicing its marketing and events customer base. RoboSig is on an accelerated rebirth of sorts, and revenue has been growing exponentially. It made total sense to fund our future operational growth by using our own product, which has the unique ability of monetizing itself. Additionally, through our partnership with Arb Asset Management and Arb Fund Management, the RoboSig strategy is available to qualified investors for private placement via the Arb RoboSig Alpha Gen Fund or an SMA (Separately Managed Account).
Not only is the fund or SMA an easy way for qualified investors anywhere in the world to place their own capital onto the RoboSig FX Strategy, but all RoboSig team members are already participating with their own personal allocations of cash into the fund. I feel that if the team who developed and is running the strategy day in and day out has their own skin in the game, it sends a very strong message of trust to our investors and partners.
The first piece of advice I have that you may not hear often or read in self-help books is that at some point you will need to have the courage to walk away from an idea if it really isn’t working. Let the market decide.
Not all great ideas end up being commercial successes. There is no shame in cutting your losses. Don’t keep going just to prove somebody wrong, to prove yourself right, or because you’ve already invested so much. Be honest with yourself at night when staring at the ceiling, trying to decide whether YOU believe it will still work and whether YOU believe it is still worth continuing.
If you honestly don’t, then set it free, don’t wallow, ignore any critics of your decision, and instead use that valuable time already making your next set of plans.
Another piece of advice I have is to not slow down when something doesn’t work out. Think about how much time is wasted by people that dwell on a disappointment, whether it’s business-related or in their personal lives.
First, there is the complaining, then the need to talk to everybody they know about their misfortune to feel better, then wondering “Why me?”, and then eventually getting stuck in a negative feedback loop.
Now…think about how efficient you can be and how much more you can get done if you just let it go instantly and immediately start taking your next steps. Maybe it takes some forgiveness or some compartmentalization, but obsessing about a failure or bad luck is nothing but wasted time as it accomplishes absolutely nothing.
You can dwell on disappointments later when there is downtime, which is important since you do need to eventually process your emotions.
My final piece of advice is to say that how you treat others is of monumental importance. So, sometimes moving forward quickly means helping somebody else, making a situation right if necessary, being honest, inspiring somebody else, and respecting other people’s time. In my opinion, it is important to always be the reliable and positive energy in the world.