MarTech Interview with Diana Lee, the Co-founder and CEO of Constellation

Join us for an exclusive interview with Diana Lee, the visionary CEO and Co-founder of Constellation where we unravel the secret sauce behind tech innovation!
MarTech Interview

In the world of technology, where innovation reigns supreme and disruptors thrive, there exists an exceptional leader whose visionary approach has propelled her company to the forefront of the industry. Diana Lee’s remarkable journey and unparalleled expertise in the technology sector have garnered widespread attention and admiration. As a trailblazer in her field, she has consistently pushed the boundaries of what is possible, leading her company to new heights of success.

In the following interview, we had the exclusive opportunity to delve into Diana’s insights, experiences, and the secrets behind Constellation’s meteoric rise. Her passion for innovation, unwavering determination, and strategic leadership have laid the foundation for the company’s extraordinary achievements.

Scroll through the interview to know more!

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to co-found Constellation?
I immigrated to the US in 1974 from South Korea and I grew up very poor so the first adult job I ever had was in college, where I worked as the salesperson at a local car dealership to pay my way through college. I ended up becoming a pretty good salesperson, and later a finance manager in retail automotive after graduating college and did this for 10 years. After that, I did consulting for another 15 years before launching Constellation in 2016.

What was your vision for Constellation when you first founded the company, and how has that vision evolved over time?
I built Constellation with a vision to provide unique and innovative marketing solutions to industries that are notoriously outdated and highly regulated. The core of Constellation still rings true to that, but since its inception in 2016, we’ve developed the world’s only creative marketing tech for highly regulated industries. Highly compliant companies are not using one automated platform to create, review, distribute, and report. Constellation is the first of its kind end-to-end marketing solution.

What industries does Constellation majorly cater to? How does it comply with evolving regulations of the respective industries?
Constellation is a SaaS enterprise technology with the world’s only creative marketing technology designed for highly regulated industries. Our end-to-end compliance solution features built-in verticalized engines for dynamic content development. Constellation’s platform allows marketers to create ads for various platforms including Meta, Programmatic, Performance Max, and Display. Features include the automatic generation of hundreds of customizable ads based on customer demographics and geographies. It reduces the burdens of compliance. While Constellation was originally rooted in auto, we have taken our learnings and tools and replicated our strategies for other highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, automotive, insurance, financial services, and spirits. And although the rules and regulations across all of these industries are vastly different, the basis of the strategies and technologies are easily replicated to fit all of the needs across various companies.

How does Constellation approach marketing and branding, and what role does it play in the company’s overall strategy?
We believe that as the line between technology and advertising continues to blur, only a true hybrid approach will allow us to deliver real results. Our proprietary technology is the engine that underpins everything we do. In terms of strategy, utilizing a holistic approach we design and execute comprehensive digital marketing strategies to reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time on the right channel.

Can you discuss any partnerships or collaborations that Constellation has engaged in to further its mission and goals?
While Constellation is still relatively new to the pharmaceutical space, our very first pharma client was actually Biohaven, which was famously acquired by Pfizer amidst the pandemic.
In the retail space, we’ve worked with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose in which we helped the brand grow 75.5% from 2021 – 2022.

How does Constellation approach scalability and growth, and what steps is the company taking to expand its user base and adoption?
Constellation has experienced exponential growth over the past year, closing out 2022 with over 80% YoY growth and $20M in revenue. In September 2022, Constellation underwent a global expansion opening new offices in Toronto, Dubai, and Seoul. With the global expansion also comes the projection of 100 new hires over the next year and an influx of diversified brands to add to its portfolio.

Additionally, we’ve launched a number of new tools including our Modular Creative Assembler Tool, which is able to monitor ongoing data, automatically remove and replace low-performing ads, and target other users based on shared characteristics with those who are engaging with high-performing ones. This means lower costs and stronger ROIs for the brands we work with.

Most recently, we’ve undergone a $15M funding round which we will use to continue to grow and verticalize our offerings. Constellation also brought on former Pfizer executive Melissa Gunn and former Takumi executive Derek Wiggins to help navigate our exponential growth and expand into new sectors.

How does Constellation approach community building and engagement, and what role do users and developers play in the company’s success?
One example of how Constellation has positively impacted its community at large is through its “Do Good Auto Coalition”, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that I run which is designed to help dealerships across the country unite in support. It lends vehicles to get supplies, food, and more to the projects and people who need it the most. The Do Good Auto Coalition has technical expertise that can be leveraged in many different ways to support the work Constellation and its partners do.

It has developed a real-time customizable dashboard for municipalities that layers the meals donated by nonprofits with affordable housing and unemployment claims. In doing this for the City of Newark, my team and I were able to identify duplication of efforts in certain areas and highlight which areas were in the most need, based on unemployment and other city data. Constellation’s data team was also able to save hundreds of volunteer hours by intelligently grouping the delivery addresses in the most efficient way. I am hoping to help other groups utilize this tech to uncover similar insights to make better use of their resources and time. By bringing transparency to these issues, Constellation can help to drive awareness, change, and reform. Additionally, Constellation offers website and technology development support for organizations that want to streamline their efforts and optimize their marketing or operations to save costs and be able to deploy their resources most effectively.

Can you talk about any challenges or obstacles that Constellation has faced, and how the company has addressed them?
Our most recent challenge was in relation to the recent funding round we just completed. It was a challenging fundraising environment due to inflationary concerns, stock market volatility, and overall anxiety about industry trends. These dynamics caused investors in the US and globally to pull back on making new advancements. However, I knew that we would be able to find a great partner, which we did in Newlight Partners, who were able to help take us across the finish line in December 2022.

Can you discuss any social responsibility or sustainability initiatives that Constellation has undertaken, and how they tie into the company’s overall mission and values?
As a company committed to diversity, Constellation has a dedicated lawyer who helps international employees get their H1B visas to work at the company. Today, 49% of the company’s employees are women with 50% of them being executive leaders and 25% of the executives being women of color.

Can you share a particular success or accomplishment that you have achieved, and what made it particularly meaningful or impactful?
Constellation and I have been honored with a number of incredible awards, all of which have been extremely meaningful as they provide the recognition that we so deserve. I was named one of EY’s Winning Women in 2019 as well as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2021 New York. Additionally, Constellation was named the 65th Fastest-Growing Private Company in America, the 10th Fastest-Growing Women-Owned Private Company, and the 7th Fastest-Growing Marketing & Advertising Company by Inc 5000. Its platform was also awarded the Digiday Technology Award for Best Marketing Automation Platform in 2021.

What advice would you give to women who aspire to be in leadership positions, and what steps can they take to help ensure their success? 
My biggest piece of advice to women who aspire to be in leadership positions is to push themselves out of their comfort zone. It’s easy to come up with excuses for why right now is the right time to take that next step, but if you’re determined to do or be something there is no better time than the present. In terms of steps to getting there – everyone’s journey is going to look entirely different, you just have to trust your gut.

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Diana Lee, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Constellation

Diana Lee, CEO and Co-founder of Constellation, is a trailblazer in the marketing industry. Leveraging her automotive background and expertise in sales and marketing, she pioneered a tech-driven approach to revolutionize the field. With Constellation's enterprise marketing technology, brands can automate creative processes and streamline regulatory approvals. Since its inception in 2016, Constellation has experienced explosive growth, becoming a global SaaS company with offices in multiple cities. Diana's commitment to diversity is reflected in a diverse C-Suite and her dedication to creating an inclusive environment. LinkedIn.
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