about

41Greetings.  My name is Christian Gammill.

I’m a builder.  I like to innovate. I’m an entrepreneur at heart.  I’ve enjoyed successes.  I’ve tasted failure.  I like success better.  I like to mentor.  I’ve worked at & with big companies.  I’ve worked at & with a lot of startups.  I like to solve problems.  I love data.  I’ve been lucky to work with smart people.  I’m having fun in life – that’s what matters most! Check out some of my highlights for kicks.

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I’m on the founding team at SocialGuides and advising a few other startups (what can I say – I can’t get enough).

I firmly believe that variety is the spice of life and that diversity in experience hones the sharpest mind.  I’ve been a lab guy, a brand guy, a strategy guy and a startup guy.  I’ve been a corporate guy, a web guy and a mobile guy.  I’ve been a good guy (I wear a lot of white) and a bad guy (rarely though).  I’ve usually been the young guy in the room (until last year).  I’ve been THE guy and I’ve been the guy behind THE guy.  But at the end of the day, I’m just a normal guy trying to navigate my way through one hell of an exciting journey.  So, please join me!

I recently received these two complements from colleagues – I think they describe some of me well.

  • “You are cool AND intense – don’t see a lot of that around here” – from rockstar marketing guy.  Well, this one made me smile.  Who doesn’t want to be cool right ; )  I enjoy being a guy people enjoy working with – its just more fun that way.  And partially given life’s circumstances and my up bringing, I’m pretty intense (a trait that has caused me problems with folks who don’t share my intensity…)
  • “Your experience is dense” – from a successful entrepreneur.  I had to ask for clarification on this one.  He meant, in a short time span, I’ve packed a lot into my career.  When I thought about it he is absolutely right.  I’ve had no slow periods (see first quote).  I want to do as many different things WELL as possible.  I pride myself at being able to succeed at a variety of things (see below).  I have been taught how to go deep quickly, consume tons of data and come back up with actionable insights – and the drive to get it all to work. 

The Early Days. My first experience making my own money was a sentence writing operation in middle school.  My friend John and I found ourselves in detention a bit.  While I was there, I would charge people to ‘write’ their sentences for them (I will not [fill in the blank] in class).  Trick was, I had carbon paper from my dad’s office!  That was my first lesson in ‘outsourcing’.  Best part was, I was the good kid doing bad things, so no teacher suspected me.  Anyway, that was my first experience making a little regular money of my own – I spent it all on 720°at the arcade.  After that, I went on to work in the corn fields.  It was the only job you could get under 16 in Kalamazoo.  I made a killing and paid for my own season ski pass, skis, tons of CDs and some cool clothes (my mother was a fashionista).  It was fun to have my own money.  So in high school I got a job at the mall – that is where the cool kids worked in the 80s/90s (see Fast Times at Ridgemont High).  It was great (but is was no Bronco Burger).  My boss was the lead singer of The Verve Pipe – the ones that sang that song ‘Freshman’.  Again, more fun making my own money.  But life wasn’t all good.  I lost my mother to Cancer.  It taught me a lot about life, myself and people in general.  It is clearly one of the most defining experiences of my life.  It shaped me in ways that I cherish and fuel me to this day.  It prepared me to be a listener, a leader and an innovator.  And it made me one analytical SOB>

The Chemistry Days. I studied chemistry in college – straight chem.  no chem eng crap (sorry – had to work at least on engineering jab in there).  It was awesome.  I did decent in class and spent two summers working in labs researching things like ‘ion binding affinities of amines” using NMR & X-ray Crystallography.  It didn’t help me with the ladies, but I had frat friends for that.  And since my dad is a PhD Chemist, I took things like Pharmacology 350 and BioChem 410 as senior electives instead of Bowling and Rocks for Jocks – thanks Dad ; )  After graduating I started my career as a chemist in drug development in the Pharmaceutical industry – which means I know a thing or two about product development and innovation. I took a job at a small pharma lab.  It was great.  It was a startup in the build out phase.  Man did I learn a ton about business there.  I was a chemist moonlighting as a budding business guy.  I developed analytical methods, wrote client reports, build databases and operational processes.  And one day I shared my plan to grow my department and was kindly told that “wasn’t my job”.  Best thing that could have happened to me!  I started my MBA apps the next day.  I helped build that small lab and it eventually sold to a big European life sciences company.  My time as my chemist was invaluable to my professional and personal development.  I joke now that everything I learned about startups/innnovation I learned in the lab (presentation and book forthcoming)

The Blue Days. While working in the lab I realized I wanted to do the startup thing. I figured I could be a pretty good bridge between the scientists and the suits. So I figured before I run off and start a company, I should get some business chops and went to University of Michigan Business School (I’m from a family with a lot of degrees – PhD, JDs, MAcc & MBA) where I focused on marketing, strategy and tech. From there I decided to go work for one of the biggest and oldest tech companies out there – IBM.  I figured they might be able to teach me a few things about actual management and leadership – which they did (it is a 100 yr old, $90+B company).  It was a great experience. I spent my time working on really amazing projects (Marketing Analytics, Innovation, Supply Chain, Product Development, etc), with some of the best folks in the company and at some very high levels. I was particularly well known for my ability to operationalize a strategy (e.g. make it real and relevant to the business operations as they existed at the moment – sorry McKinsey).  It was overall an amazing geekout experience – I worked with professors at top business schools to help create some new customer value models, I learned more about advance market research than most will ever forget (went to this great class), I worked with some amazing technologists (more PhDs) to figure out ways to accelerate product adoption, I worked with some amazing market researchers (more PhDs) to create crazy Structural Equation Models (I love stats models – Bayes rocks) that showed how we could make a few BILLION more dollars (really) and I worked with some fantastic folks in Supply Chain (yep more PhDs) to help identify ways we could improve our customer experiences – and I also got to work with some fun and sharp marketers too. One of the high points of my time at IBM was being nominated to participate in the National Innovation Initiative (a project focused on shaping US policy and resulting in the National Innovation Act).  I had calls with Economists (more PhDs) about global markets and innovation. I learned a TON at IBM! I traveled a bit (India, China, Japan, Germany, Portugal and all over the States). I also got to present at a lot of conferences (MIT, Lisbon, IIR SF, PDMA NY and all sorts of IBM locations). It was one of these conferences that triggered my move to California. Someone connected me with a founder of a web company in LA. So I decided to take all my past experiences and head into the startup world.

The Sunny Days. I’ve been a startup guy (and a bit of a strategy guy) in Southern California for 4 years working in various web and mobile startups in varying business capacities (Co-founder, President, COO, VP Product/Mkt, Advisor and Consultant).  I’ve enjoyed the journey thus far and have done quite a bit to understand the full ecosystem.  I’ve got a clear set of POVs on what its all about down here and am enjoying making my contributions where I can add the most value while I chart my own course. Check out my Startups.

The Present Days. I’m the President/Customer Guy at an exciting new startup (SocialGuides).  And I’m also doing what I can to help a few startups as an advisor.  I work on Customer Development and Go to Market or you can say  marketing strategy (GTM and brand), business development (partner for customer acquisition vs straight sales) and product development (from concept to spec – I don’t code).  I’m currently open to cool opportunities to help businesses/brand figure out how to leverage or build their brand in the social/mobile/location era of the web.

If this isn’t enough, check me out on linkedin View Christian Gammill's profile on LinkedIn

So, you may have noticed I’ve worked with a lot of PhDs and may be asking why didn’t I get a PhD? after seriously investigating and considering it twice (once in science – pharmacology – and once in business – strategy) I determined I was better off being the operating business guy that worked with the PhDs (and other smart technologists & scientists). I do want to be a professor at some point in my career as I have a strong intellectual curiosity. I have found that I work well with those folks and we compliment each other well. But, I also believe for the academic pursuits that interest me, there is no better training and value to the audience than a ‘been there, done that’ guy…

Comments
4 Responses to “about”
  1. This is an awesome bio, Chris! As someone who had the privilege of working with you early-on in your blogging life, I’d say you definitely are now “in the zone”… 🙂

    Best of luck with your blog and, especially, with your startup!

    cheers,
    Graeme
    http://www.twitter.com/graemethickins
    •Minneapolis •San Clemente

    • gammill says:

      Graeme, Thank you for the kind words. I owe a lot of it to you. I learned from a master! I hope to see you at DEMO’09!

  2. Mike Merrill says:

    Hey Chris,

    Great Bio. Very interesting experiences. I did a few startups after grad school and have settled at NetApp after Dell.

    Enjoyed reading your content here. Best of luck on your new ventures!

    Mike

    • gammill says:

      Thanks Mike, Great to hear from you! Its been awhile since our B-school days, but it looks like things at Michigan are going quite well. The facilities look amazing and another #5 ranking. What kind of startups did you do?

      How are you liking NetApp? Best of luck to you as well and let me know if you get out to Southern Cal.

      gammill

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