Campbell Macdonald – Founder and CEO of Pathful

I would start my own venture sooner, spend more time coding, and ship products faster.

Campbell Macdonald is the founder and CEO of Pathful, which uses visual and action-oriented insights to help users understand what content is hurting or helping their sales. Prior to Pathful, Campbell led digital marketing programs for major brands such as BuildDirect and The Home Depot. A passionate advocate for digital measurement, Campbell is proud to be paving a better way to actionable analytics that really matter for content marketers.

Where did the idea for Pathful come from?

My business partner had been working on a side project to understand behavior in the browser. We realized that we could radically help marketers improve the performance of their websites with analysis of the data we were gathering.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

I break up my day. First thing in the morning, I review and plan my day and respond to urgent emails. I have breakfast, then I take a 30- to 45-minute bike ride to work. I try to dedicate earlier hours to creative and product-focused work, reserving the afternoon for customer calls and meetings. I ride home to be with my family for supper in the evening.

The biggest thing I’ve done for boosting productivity is to plan my entire week as much as possible and then review how I did at the end of the week. It’s made me much more accountable and helped me prioritize what’s important, what’s urgent, and what can wait.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We constantly explore new ideas and test them early. We validate all our major ideas with a subset of our customers before writing any code, which lets us move quickly with ideas.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The consumerization of enterprise software. I started my career working with powerful but horrible-to-use enterprise software. It was only available to the largest companies due to the expense of licenses, training, and other costs. As a user, it was hard to learn how to use the software and get other people in the organization to adopt it.

Zendesk, Slack, and Hootsuite have shown that you can have software that’s easy (and even fun) to use that’s also extremely powerful.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Hiring people I trust and not getting in the way. My productivity as a CEO is largely a function of how productive my team is.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

When I was a teenager, I tried a bunch of jobs after giving up my paper route. One was selling popcorn at football games. The other was delivering flyers. Both were highly repetitive, and I hated the environment in both. Most importantly, there was no relationship with the customers. Ever since, I have always tried to be in a healthy, dynamic environment where I can closely engage with customers. Repetition is death to me.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would start my own venture sooner, spend more time coding, and ship products faster.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Talk to customers — and not just through surveys and your team. Pick up the phone, or jump on a plane to see them.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Focus on value versus unsustainable growth. It’s easy to fall into the allure of growth that’s hacked. From day one, we’ve been suspicious of customer segments that came to Pathful that we couldn’t clearly articulate why they were using our product.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I have had many. The biggest failures are when a venture or product fails. (I’ve been involved in a couple.)

There are two things I recommend:

• Get back up. Just because a venture fails doesn’t mean that you personally are a failure.
• Learn from the experience. You now have a leg up on everyone who hasn’t started a business and those who failed and walked away.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A credit card that you can cancel at one merchant when it becomes compromised. (One card looks like it’s coming close to this.)

Tell us something about you that very few people know.

I almost became a chef. Fortunately, I figured out that running a restaurant or being a chef has very little to do with enjoying cooking.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

• Car2Go: OK, so it involves cars, but the software to find a car that I can jump into and leave when I arrive is pretty awesome.

• WorkFlowy: I use this to keep track of my personal to-dos.

• Mailbox: Email can be overwhelming. Mailbox is a better way to manage it — not perfect, but better.

• Intercom: This tool lets us stay in touch with users and prospects seamlessly.

• Xero: We’re a paperless company, and Xero allows us to keep track of all our books, expenses, banking, and payments in one place.

• Pipedrive: This CRM system is great for keeping track of larger deals and fundraising.

• Slack: This communication tool has literally reduced email by 40 to 50 percent for me by putting our internal and contractor communications in one place for everyone to see.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” is a very interesting read. The biggest value is that it forces you to question not just everything you know, but also your sources for information. It’s mind-blowing.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

For content, I read Content Marketing Institute, B2B Marketing Insider, and Chief Marketing Technologist. For funding and good startup guidance, I read Feld Thoughts, Both Sides of The Table, and Mattermark. Then, of course, there’s
Seth Godin: genuine and genius.


Campbell Macdonald on LinkedIn:
Campbell Macdonald Twitter: @cambel