Christopher Golec is a seasoned entrepreneur with a demonstrated record of fostering innovation and leading successful start-ups. Golec’s journey spans from his early days as a chemical engineer to becoming a key figure in the world of martech, with his co-founding of Demandbase, a pioneering B2B marketing platform, serving as a remarkable testament to his visionary leadership.
In an enlightening discussion, Golec delves into his remarkable career trajectory, sharing insightful anecdotes about transitioning from product engineering to sales, pioneering the concept of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), and navigating the unpredictable waters of startup exits.
He also highlights his latest venture, Channel99, that aims to streamline B2B marketing by providing transparency about marketing vendors’ effectiveness.
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From Chemical Engineering to Marketing
Starting as a product engineer, he transitioned into sales within DuPont, eventually managing large sales for General Electric (GE) on the West Coast. He was responsible for plastic sales to notable tech giants like Apple and Hewlett Packard – a business that accounted for a whopping $100 million.
During the early 90s, as the internet was starting to gain momentum, he co-founded a B2B supply chain software company. This was a pioneering endeavor as they were among the first web-based B2B supply chain software businesses.
Growing Pains and Triumphs
Building software wasn’t their forte, so the beginning was slow. Raising capital was a challenging task as the B2B concept wasn’t appealing to many investors at the time.
The turning point arrived when they met a venture firm whose senior partner hailed from a big manufacturing company and understood the problem they were addressing. The company grew to about 70-80 employees, but growth wasn’t without its unique challenges.
Exit and Lessons
In the era of booming dot-coms, the company saw a successful exit in the year 2000, the day the market peaked. While some investors thought they might be leaving a lot of money on the table, the crash of 2001 would have left them with nothing if they had stuck around.
This period imparted valuable lessons about market dynamics, greed, and the importance of timing.
He believes it is crucial not to be arrogant but constantly learn and evolve.
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Building Demandbase and Pioneering Account-Based Marketing
Post exit, he consulted with businesses and realized that B2B marketers were stuck with B2C technologies.
This led him to the concept of creating B2B technology specifically for marketers that are selling to other businesses, birthing the concept of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). This vision was ahead of its time in 2005, so he had to pivot and build a solution that the market was ready for.
The Importance of Timing
Being too early or too late can have profound implications on a startup’s journey. If you’re too early, raising money might be hard. If you’re too late, the problem might have been solved already by other companies.
Validating ideas with customers, industry leaders, analysts, and investors is a critical part of identifying the market readiness for your solution.
Building A Culture
As an entrepreneur, building a healthy work culture is a priority for him. At Demandbase, they invested heavily in transparency, employee engagement, weekly town halls, and philanthropic activities.
This investment led them to become a best place to work in San Francisco for 8 consecutive years and rank 10th in the country on Glassdoor out of 500,000 small businesses.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Christopher Golec was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Channel99: The Next Venture
Channel99, Christopher Golec’s most recent venture, is on a mission to provide unprecedented clarity and efficiency in the world of B2B marketing. It focuses on offering a platform for understanding the quality and dollar efficiency of all marketing vendors and providers, shedding light on the otherwise opaque landscape of marketing investments.
This innovative technology gives businesses a much-needed source of truth regarding what marketing initiatives are truly working and what’s not.
Given that most companies only target a small fraction of potential business customers and there are thousands of marketing solutions available, it’s increasingly difficult to identify the few that genuinely matter for each individual company.
Channel99 steps in to provide this essential transparency, with a particular focus on the realm of advertising.
Channel99 operates on a simple business model with a low base subscription and a pay-as-you-go model for monitoring off-site advertising activities. In times of economic downturns or budget constraints, Channel99’s solution becomes particularly valuable as it enables companies to make informed decisions about where they can reduce spending without negatively impacting their pipeline or revenue.
The vision for Channel99 extends beyond providing valuable insights. It aspires to be the “Adobe for B2B”, delivering indispensable analytics and performance measurement tools for the B2B marketing sector.
The platform also aims to offer brand safety verification and tracking features similar to what DoubleVerify provides in the ad tech world. With these ambitious goals, Channel99 is poised to become a transformative force in the B2B marketing landscape.
His journey highlights the importance of pivoting when necessary, the significance of understanding market readiness, and the value of fostering a positive company culture. He underscores the importance of the ‘people’ factor in a company’s growth journey, emphasizing the need to make swift decisions about the right fit for the business.
Whether it’s hiring great people or realizing when someone isn’t the right fit, these decisions can have a profound impact on the company’s trajectory.
The story of his career from chemical engineering to martech innovation encapsulates a journey filled with resilience, adaptability, and continuous learning.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Golec’s transition from being a chemical engineer in Detroit to co-founding a game-changing B2B marketing platform, Demandbase, and his latest venture, Channel99.
- The concept of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and how it revolutionized B2B marketing.
- The challenges faced during fundraising and strategies employed to navigate these hurdles.
- Insights into managing the evolving leadership dynamics in a rapidly growing startup.
- The importance of fostering a strong company culture and making quick people-related decisions in the growth journey of a company.