Episode 187
December 5, 2023

K-Pop Beats and Skincare Feats

with Paul Baek, Founder and CEO of Matter of Fact

About this episode

From completing an undergrad at Harvard to becoming a K-Pop sensation in Korea to founding and formulating his very own skincare line, Paul Baek’s journey has been nothing short of extraordinary. In this episode, we delve into the unexpected twists of Paul's life, discussing his courageous decision to break away from the norm and forge a path that led him to the creation of his skincare company, Matter of Fact. Join us as Paul shares how his upbringing shaped him, the gratitude he feels for his immigrant parents, the exhilarating experience of K-Pop stardom, and the pivotal moments and mentors that shaped his journey as an entrepreneur and skincare innovator.

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 In This Episode You’ll Hear About:

[01:41] Paul’s upbringing in Florida, the touching sacrifices his parents made for their family, why he is so grateful to them, and the realities of being part of an immigrant family.

[05:51] His early desire to become an artist and why this was a terrifying prospect for his parents.

[12:30] The gratitude Paul feels for the teachers who believed in him, how they encouraged his aptitude for mathematics, and why his sister felt so protective of him.

[14:44] Being accepted into Harvard, the culture shock he experienced, and the inspiration he felt being around so many talented students.

[18:46] Paul’s love of music and K-pop; the incredible story of how he signed a deal with an agency in Korea and what it was like being a K-pop star.

[33:43] Leaving behind a music career, going back to school to earn an MBA, and how Paul first entered the world of startups at Atom Factory.

[37:24] Paul’s dermatological journey; from meeting one of his future mentors in South Korea to formulating his own skincare products and founding a company.

[45:24] How Paul has evolved as an entrepreneur; the biggest challenges he’s faced and the most rewarding successes.

[56:36] Partnering with Sephora, key lessons around fundraising, and the gratitude Paul feels for the investors who joined before they launched.

[1:02:16] What’s next for Paul’s company, Matter of Fact, and his advice for other entrepreneurs.

 To Find Out More:

Matter of Fact

Matter of Fact on Instagram

Matter of Fact on X

Matter of Fact on Facebook
Paul Baek on LinkedIn
Atom Factory
Lee Greene on LinkedIn

Stairway to CEO

Stairway to CEO on Instagram

 Quotes:

“I'm very proud of the hard work and sacrifices that my parents made in order to provide for their family. And of course, that's not something unique to me. That's true of so many parents, and especially immigrant parents. But it's something that I'm very grateful for.” [0:03:26]

“I wanted to be an artist, actually. But, of course, that scared the living daylights out of my parents who were living this hard immigrant life.” [0:06:48]

“For a very long time, I didn't think that it was possible to have a sustainable career and to spend time making things every day professionally. And so I do feel very, very lucky now that I am able to do that every day.”  [0:09:21] 

“The joy of making things with my hands is something that has helped me. And, as a child [was] probably also [a] self-soothing mechanism – [a] way to deal with sometimes stressful environments.” [0:12:19]

“I was lucky enough in that environment to have really great teachers who believed in my ability to learn. And so I joined the math club and the trivia club – places where my teachers encouraged me, and I seemed to have at least somewhat of a natural aptitude for it.” [0:13:31]

“At the time, I thought, ‘hmm, the only thing that I've ever thought about starting was something in skincare.’” [0:37:37]

“One thing that I was really inspired by was founders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and do as much work on their own before they asked others to join them.” [0:38:29]

“I said, ‘I don't know if I'm allowed to do that, because it's not been my formal training, it's just been a hobby.’ And she said, ‘You can do whatever the heck you want. And by the way, I'm happy to mentor you.’ And that was incredibly generous and kind and encouraging.”  [0:40:05]

“We're the first and only vitamin C technology to do this: demonstrate clinical efficacy both at the beginning of the shelf life of the product and at the end of the shelf life of the product.” — [0:44:19]

“Every lesson has its counter lesson.” [0:48:21]

“When I left K-pop, there was a sense of new opportunities and freedom, there was also a sense of mourning because I didn't know whether I would ever get the opportunity to make a living doing anything creative ever again.” [0:50:35] 

“How can we show that as such a small, young, early brand, that we may be small, but we're mighty.” — Paul Baek [0:58:00]

“My number one piece of advice would be to stay focused. Life is full of distractions, so many enticing attractive distractions. So it's important to stay focused on your goal – especially if that goal is starting a business because it's very difficult.” [01:03:26]

Read the transcript

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