Charles Cantu – Founder of Huddled Masses

[quote style=”boxed”]Always take time to reflect on the day or what’s to come. Some call it meditating or praying. However you label it, it’s during these quiet times that you can really meld vision and purpose.[/quote]

Charles Cantu started with nothing more than an associate’s degree and a passion for technology. Over the past 15 years, he’s transformed that knowledge and passion into numerous multi-million dollar organizations, ensuring the success of multiple sales teams and businesses.

Charles has managed the national iTV, VOD, mobile, and online sales strategies for such industry leaders as Disney, Microsoft, Time Warner Inc., Comcast, and Cox Media. He’s also worked extensively on the demand side of the digital advertising equation, most recently as Vice President of Sales at MediaMath, where he helped marketers develop optimized digital ad campaigns to connect individually with consumers across the world.

Recognizing that too many digital service providers cater to big brands with big budgets, Charles saw the importance of helping specialized clients who wished to achieve efficiency in their digital marketing. With seed funding from MediaMath, he founded Huddled Masses in 2012 to offer smaller organizations and agencies programmatic optimization of highly targeted digital campaigns at scale. Today, Huddled Masses is in the top tier of media buying and digital marketing strategy companies in the country.

Where did the idea for Huddled Masses come from?

After working many years for media companies, I was — and still am — intensely excited to be part of an emerging technology that’s redefining the ways consumers and businesses interact by connecting the right individuals with the right message with no waste.

I noticed that tech companies in the media arena — especially in the programmatic sector — had a high rate of turning away businesses and clients because the prospects weren’t experienced enough or didn’t meet minimum spend requirements. I wanted to start a business to help an underserviced segment of the advertising community achieve its goals.

What is your business model?

We are a pure service organization that charges various percentages based on the level of service — self, co-managed, and full-service.

What does your typical day look like?

I wake, kiss my wife, pet my dog, and drink my coffee. While on the train to Manhattan, I check my email and Facebook and play Candy Crush Saga. The rest of the day is filled with emails, phone conversations, and virtual or face-to-face meetings related to growing our clients’ ROI, ROAS, and other metrics important to them.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I don’t — my team does. We work so well together that it’s often hard to tell whose idea it was in the first place. I spend a lot of time working with brilliant people. The synergy of our shared ideation allows our ideas to become reality.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The one trend I am thrilled to explore further is the concept of going beyond big data and into the realm of data-driven optimization and capitalization. So many companies are making money by selling a bill of goods to segment customer files or audiences, but they fall short in driving real results. We’re helping to bridge the delta.

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

My first real job was a summer job at my high school. I was 14, and I was a custodian. I learned that I am not the kind of person who will ever be fully okay with removing chewed gum from under desks. I also learned that with a little Freon, things are a lot “cooler.”

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

I would have become an entrepreneur much earlier in life. I spent nearly 15 years in traditional media. I never knew it would be so much fun to venture out and build something that people really like.

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

Always take time to reflect on the day or what’s to come. Some call it meditating or praying. However you label it, it’s during these quiet times that you can really meld vision and purpose.

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

Caring about our clients is the single most productive strategy we have. By caring about our clients’ businesses as much — or sometimes more — than they do, we see a huge return and renewal rate. We also benefit a great deal from year-over-year growth, referrals, and client references and testimonials.

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

Small- and mid-sized businesses usually have cash flow issues because nobody is assigned to follow up with accounts receivables to get them in sooner. I would pay a fair amount for someone to simply call clients and remind them that their payments are due.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be? How would you go about it?

I would teach people to get “out of their heads” or set ways. So many people are always in their heads or thinking of the next answer. They miss the wonderful experience of being present. It’s hard to be “the best you” if you miss half of what other people are sharing with you. I would implement communication programs in schools that go beyond English. I would teach people that our words are only 30 percent of communication, and there is so much more to life when you learn to fully communicate.

Tell us something about you that very few people know.

I am a college dropout. I had to go back to school for an A.A. before I started my first company.

What are your three favorite online tools, software, or resources and what do you love about them?

It seems silly, but I love online banking, QuickBooks (Citrix), and the American Express Travel tools. I would be lost without these three things.

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

I recommend Robert B. Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” because this book has led me on one of the most fascinating journeys to examine why people do and say things — and how I can help them when they’re stuck.

List the experts who have helped you as an entrepreneur?

Some people who have influenced me are Tommie Lindsey, Joe Zawadzki and Ari Buchalter of MediaMath, Joseph Riggio, and Devon White.

What did you have for breakfast?

I had two shots of espresso and one-half cup of heated chocolate almond milk. Every day without fail.


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