Q: How did you get into the business of night vision?
Marc Vayn: I was traveling overseas and I was introduced to several products that were available for import. I gravitated to the night vision units, as I knew there was a market and there was nothing commercially available in the States. After a few years of importing night vision units, I quickly realized that importing someone else’s products was not the way to go and I set out to manufacture my own.
Q: What was it about this sector that interested you as an entrepreneur?
MV: With advances in technology, there was plenty of opportunity to offer unique products with advanced features never seen before, modeled after the cell phone market.
Q: How has the market changed since 1995 when American Technology Network Company was started?
MV: I founded ATN in 1995 starting from a small space the size of a garage in Silicon Valley. The first few years were difficult as the space was very niche and it was hard to get the awareness out that Night Vision was available commercially and not only to Law Enforcement or Military.
Today, ATN is a global enterprise with offices around the world bringing to market cutting edge products for the outdoors and the shooting sports industry. ATN has been catapulted into a market leader and innovator in the Electro-Optics space. We took a huge risk and it paid off tremendously as our sales and demand for our products grew (and continue to grow) exponentially.
Q: ATN Smart HD Scopes are known for being connected through Bluetooth and Smart IoT (Internet of Things). How has this technology helped hunters become better?
MV: ATN has created a “new way to be outside” and allows customers “a new way to enjoy nature.” ATNs Smart Scopes connect to smart phones so the user can see the scene live from the shooter’s perspective. This allows coaches/trainers to use this technology as a great training tool. You can show new hunters or shooters their mistakes and educate them on how to be better shooters.
Q: This year ATN opened up the company’s first retail store in Texas. Please tell us about the store and why it was important to have a brick-and-mortar store?
MV: Customers want to touch and feel the products. Unfortunately, dealers can’t stock all that ATN has to offer. With our retail stores, we are able to show customers the entire line of ATN products, which they can play with and see how they function and see what type of utility they offer. This provides an additional resource for the customer to gather information and helps them make a more informed purchasing decision.
Q: What are you learning from the direct interaction with customers in the retail setting?
MV: It’s helping ATN learn more about client preferences and the features they would like to see. This allows us to either add through a firmware update or include in the next generation of products. We have also learned that customer service, while often a lost art, continues to be a priority for both customer and ATN interactions.
Q: How are hunters using the ATN Radar App in a hunting situation?
MV: This is still a relatively new feature and feedback has been limited. But from what we can see, customers are embracing this feature and its ability to coordinate the hunting experience with their hunting groups. Knowing where your friends are located is an important aspect of hunting safely and it provides for a wider area to scout and tag, for example, a sounder of hogs. The group can then maneuver into a safe shooting position for maximum effect.
Q: As a Ukrainian, you have done a tremendous amount of work in the last year to make a difference for the Ukrainian Resistance. Tell us about your motivation and the work you have done to help Ukrainians defend their homeland.
MV: I’m a US Citizen first and foremost. I was raised in the USA and have been here the vast majority of my life, although I do have Ukrainian heritage. ATN has supported the efforts of Ukrainian resistance by working with great organizations like the GORTA Group and GSMSG, providing financial and product support for this effort.
Q: How can our readers make a difference?
MV: Well for one, readers can make a difference by supporting the companies that have decided to stop operations in Russia and boycott the ones that have decided to stay. We see that the people of the world are united in this effort, that Ukraine has been unjustly invaded and we should not tolerate this type of aggression in today’s modern world.
Q: What are the next big steps for ATN?
MV: We are continuing to add more retail locations as we see value to directly interact with potential customers. Also, we are gearing up to launch several new products in the coming month. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal anything about them yet, as it would spoil the surprise.
Q: What do you wish folks would ask you in an interview?
MV: My passion for the outdoors, especially sailing. I enjoy it tremendously as it provides a sense of freedom and adventure. I also enjoy taking people sailing with me who have never sailed before. I like to show them the intricacies and what it takes to operate and maneuver a sailboat.
Q: Which product is your go-to when you hunt or scout?
MV: It depends on whether I am hunting or camping. For hunting it would be the Thor thermal riflescope. There just isn’t anything like using thermal for hunting hogs at night. It’s a great experience. If I’m camping with the family then it would be the ODIN thermal viewer. It’s fun to be around the campfire, and if you hear a noise in the woods, you can turn it on and see what is going bump-in-the-night. It always amazes friends and family, especially my kids.
Q: What is your top-selling item/fan favorite?
Q: Tell us about the new products you are releasing this summer.
MV: We are always innovating and incorporating customer feedback, so we have a continuous pipeline of new products on the horizon. You are just going to have to wait and see!