Home > Uncategorized > Why Entrepreneurs Make Great Modern-Day CMO’s… ‘That’s Me All Over Mable’

Why Entrepreneurs Make Great Modern-Day CMO’s… ‘That’s Me All Over Mable’


My first Internet start-up  SagePORT Inc  was ready for an IPO in 2000 when The Dot Com Bubble Burst. As CMO then CEO (the last man standing), I turned out the lights, but not before settling with all our debtors for pennies on the dollar and avoiding Chapter 11. If you want to buy a shell it is still a legal entity in WA state.
Now almost 15 years later, I am again a CMO of a startup (AM4U Inc), but this time, by GOD,  we are going to make it!
Bud Robinson CMO
AM4U Inc

No longer does a company single-handedly dictate the direction and success of a product or service. The Age of the Customer is here, which means people like you and I are informed to make purchases before ever engaging with a vendor. According to Forrester, empowered customers are disrupting every industry and the only sustainable competitive advantage a company has is knowledge of and engagement with its customers. The most successful companies need to be customer-obsessed, like Amazon.com, Macy’s.com and salesforce.com are. And when it comes to making sure a business is customer focused, the modern-day CMO is boss.

The modern CMO is a data scientist, a social media whiz and has only one thing in mind—customers. In today’s customer-centric world, CMOs have more power to drive the success of a business than ever before. That’s why this new CMO is also visionary, a goal-setter and a forward thinker. In many ways, the modern day CMO is like an entrepreneur and as a former entrepreneur, I believe that the best CMOs either come from an entrepreneurial background or have that mindset going into the CMO role.

My first job out of university was right before the tech bubble burst. In May 2000 I joined a small Vancouver-based technology start up. We raised a $1M in funding and for a year we worked at building the product—for nothing. We built a product, but couldn’t get it out of the door. We failed at marketing and quickly learned that sales and the front end of the house are just as important as what’s built. After my first start up experience failed, the two co-founders and I decided to give it another go.

We moved the couches out of my Vancouver apartment, bought a domain name and started selling. We were selling software that didn’t exist, but we were successful. Our first two deals to a couple of large organizations resulted in over 200K. After we made the sales, we started building and in just a couple of years we had 35 people on our team. Shortly after, we sold the business to Active Network, which then turned into a $350M business and went public in May 2011. In just four years, I was part of a business that went from $30M to $350M—a huge accomplishment.

Being an entrepreneur was a fantastic experience, but it had its downfalls. Anyone who has tried it knows that much time is dedicated to back room process, payroll and accounting. It’s an all-inclusive mental, emotional and financial investment. The dead lift is exciting, yet extremely difficult–wishing there was already some momentum to work from. It also goes without saying that starting a business is incredibly risky. Three in every four start-ups fail. Given the appreciation I developed for sales and marketing and given the increased attention on the role of a CMO as businesses strive to loop the voice of the customer in their decision making processes, it was time I gave it a go. After going into my fourth year as CMO at Vision Critical, a cloud-based customer intelligence company that helps brands capture customer insight in order to make more informed business decisions, I can truly say that entrepreneurs make exceptional modern day CMOs. Here’s why:

  • Customers make or break a business: “Treat your customers like they own you, because they do,” said Mark Cuban, a well-known American businessman, investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Today, companies don’t have a choice but to cater to their customers—their success depends on customer happiness. Entrepreneurs understand that better than most. They’re on the front lines with customers every day, trying to sell and create profit. As innovators, they’re turning ideas into reality by setting the mountain and creating the steps needed to take in order to succeed. Marketing is a huge part of that staircase—it’s important, if not the most important part of entrepreneurship.
  • Entrepreneurs, like marketers set the path: In the mid-60’s when the space program and its future success were a hot topic, John F. Kennedy said with regards to the creation of a new space research center, “This Nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it.” The quote translates well to entrepreneurship. Company leaders set objectives and outline the needed measures to accomplish them. Business owners are often responsible for creating a story and delivering its promise—something marketers know all too well.
  • Brand is critical to both: As spokespeople, entrepreneurs care about how they and their products are represented. Everything that makes up a brand including messaging, customer experience, product marketing and public image is something CMOs drive. So when entrepreneurs move to CMO roles, they’re highly mindful of the elements that make up a brand and the reputation a business has to build and maintain.

In sum, if you’re an entrepreneur thinking about moving into a CMO capacity, now’s the time. And if you’re already an entrepreneur, you’re already a CMO.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: