[quote style=”boxed”]Well, “over and over” sounds like the non-technical definition of insanity. But I’ve become a believer in balancing diet, mind and focus. I believe this balance has a huge impact on my performance, and it’s something I’d recommend everyone else to do.[/quote]
Chris Campbell is the Chief Tracking Officer of Review Trackers, a new B2B software and services company dedicated to helping businesses of all kinds and sizes monitor their online reviews.
An online marketing and SEO strategist with extensive entrepreneurial experience, Campbell founded Review Trackers in early 2012 to help his own clients track and respond to their online reviews. With a vision of making the company an international leader in online review monitoring, he has since led the development of Review Trackers to fit the needs of mom-and-pops, small businesses and enterprise-level organizations with hundreds or thousands of locations. He is currently living and working in Santiago after having gained entry to Start-Up Chile, one of South America’s most prestigious incubator programs and social and capital networks.
Before Review Trackers, Campbell was the Director of Online Marketing at Lakeshore Branding, a digital agency that he established in 2007. He sold his first company at the age of 19 and has successfully developed marketing campaigns for clients such as the United Nations, Dell, University of Chicago, Pep Boys, Nissan, Gortex and Jamba Juice, among many others.
With a finger always on the pulse of the global entrepreneurial world, Campbell regularly takes the time to help launch promising startups. He’s a volunteer Global Facilitator for Startup Weekend, serves as a founding member of the Integrated Marketing Think Tank in Chicago and appears regularly in high school classrooms as a mentor for NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) and the Illinois Institute of Entrepreneurship Education.
Campbell received the 2009 DePaul Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year award from DePaul University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Marketing.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on Review Trackers, an online review-monitoring service. We help organizations like hotels, restaurants and car dealers track their online reviews across a variety of review websites. We aggregate the data into a central dashboard and send our clients e-mail notifications every time there is a new review.
Where did the idea for Review Trackers come from?
When I was still working as a marketing and digital strategy consultant, one of my clients came to me with a problem they needed to solve. They were trying to track their online reviews. They realized it was critical to their business, particularly in terms of gathering business intelligence, tracking customer feedback and identifying problems in their different stores nationwide.
After testing and demoing a lot of the solutions that my client and I had researched on the web, we realized we needed to build something new—a better mousetrap, if you will. So we developed a prototype, and that was the foundation of what Review Trackers is today. Since that time, we’ve done a lot of testing, and we’ve gotten closer to what other clients are asking for, so we’re looking forward to growing Review Trackers as we move along.
What does your typical day look like?
Summer is just around the corner here in Santiago. I’m usually up by 8:00 a.m., and I start to check in with the teams overseas. We work around the clock, and we have people in so many different time zones that I have to make myself available in almost every time zone. (At least that’s what it feels like most days.) Then I get the day started with a high-protein breakfast, then a shower, and I’m out the door usually by 9:00 or 10:00 a.m.
For most of the day, I work at the Start-Up Chile Centro Movistar Innova office to get some work done, but in the evening, after CMI, I make a point of doing something—whether it’s as simple as watching TV or having friends over for a bottle of Chilean wine or going out for dinner—just trying to experience the city of Santiago and get a chance to hang out with the other people who are a part of the Start-Up Chile program.
How do you bring ideas into life?
I think this requires a couple of key components: having a clear vision, then focus and, finally, the ability to execute. Those are the three things that I think you need the most to have a successful business.
What’s the one trend that really excites you?
The fact that every research paper that comes out of universities (Harvard and Berkeley, for example) keeps telling businesses that reviews are more important than ever. It’s great for business.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
Selling ink cartridges was definitely the worst job I ever had. It was one of those college gigs that had me go from door to door, literally, selling ink and toner cartridges. The pitch would go like this: I walk into a business or office, I carry a delivery bin and I say, “Hey, I was just making a delivery next door to ABC Carpet (or whatever). They’re saving 50 percent on their ink cartridges, and we’d like to offer you the same savings opportunity.”
I got kicked out of a few buildings for doing that, but I learned a lot about sales, and I gained a basic but valuable understanding of how to pitch and sell a product or service.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have stayed longer in college. And I would have started traveling sooner.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Well, “over and over” sounds like the non-technical definition of insanity. But I’ve become a believer in balancing diet, mind and focus. I believe this balance has a huge impact on my performance, and it’s something I’d recommend everyone else to do.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had a landscaping firm for my first company, which was successful in terms of sales, revenues, profits. I was only 19 years old at the time, and we had over 15 employees and good, year-round business. I ended up choosing to partner with two other companies. We merged and, being naive at that age, I got taken advantage of in the terms of the deal.
By the time it was all done, the two partners that I merged my company with had more or less forced me out of the company with some debt that was still tied to me personally. It wasn’t long before I started another company, but from this situation I definitely learned a great deal about how to choose your business partners wisely and carefully.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Do you love Girl Scout Cookies? They’re so delicious, and people love them. There’s Thin Mints, Caramel deLites, Peanut Butter, and a bunch of other great flavors. But the sad thing is that these cookies are sold only a few weeks a year.
What I would like to do is create a subscription program for people to sign up for, say, $10 a month, so we can send them two boxes of cookies every month. This would mean me buying thousands of boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and signing up people who want to get these delicious treats regularly, instead of just a few weeks a year.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
There are a couple of problems that I’d like to see solved: providing clean water to the entire world; eliminating poverty; fixing education; and getting the world plugged in to the internet. The operational efficiencies and gains that are made possible by internet connectivity are astronomical.
How to do these and change the world? I have no idea. If you have any good ideas, let me know. But let me just say that Scott Harrison of Charity Water is doing a great job in helping provide clean water to the world. We need some champions for the other causes.
Tell us a secret.
I’m in the Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the world’s largest bikini parade (Panama City Beach) and for being part of a group that turned out to be the most number of people wearing sunglasses at night (Wrigley Field, Chicago). To be clear, I was not wearing a bikini at the bikini parade.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources, and what do you love about them?
I’m going to give a shout-out to startups whose tools I’m using right now. You may not have heard of them, but these are startups I think that entrepreneurs should know:
1. Rival IQ – A tool to better monitor and understand your competitors.
2. Bitesize PR – An online resource that helps startups and small businesses get press mentions and media attention.
3. Zapier – A tool that makes it easy to sync multiple APIs.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d say Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life by Neil Strauss. First of all, Strauss is an extremely good writer, and he has the ability to suck you in with the way he writes. The book is actually about how to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies (earthquakes, tornadoes, that kind of stuff), but the lessons still apply in business: creating backup plans, anticipating different scenarios, planning in advance for when everything hits the fan.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
1. GS Elevator Gossip – Because I just find them hilarious.
2. David Mihm – Because his tweets keep me up-to-date with all the local search marketing stuff that’s going on.
3. SoYeahDuh – Originally a Tumblr blog, with really funny inside jokes around Chicago that, some of the time, only people who’ve lived in Chicago will get.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
For me, laughing out loud happens on an hourly basis. I love laughing. I laughed out loud remembering funny stories while trying to answer this interview. It’s an important part of my life. I like to be silly, and if I can do something that makes other people laugh, too, then that would be awesome.
Who is your hero?
My grandfather. He passed away a few years ago. He inspired me to be a better person, and he taught me a lot about business and history, that kind of thing. More importantly, he taught me how to be a man: how to dress, how to act, how to carry myself, how to be a gentleman. The ideas and values that he passed on to me are still ideas and values that I carry with me today.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
My mom realized I was going to be in business one hot summer morning in our Chicago suburban neighborhood, when I was about 10. I set up a lemonade stand in front of our house and the mailman, Butch, came by, so I asked him if he would like to have a glass of lemonade. He reached for his pocket, tried to look for some change, but he said, “I’m sorry, Chris, but not today. I have no change.”
As he started to walk off, I asked if he wanted a glass of water. “Water’s free,” I said.
“You know what?” he replied, “I’d like a glass of water.”
So I went quickly inside the house to get Butch a glass of water then walked back out. He immediately took a sip as soon as I handed him the glass. (Actually, he chugged it—it was about 100 degrees out there that day!) And right as he chugged it, he spat the water out. My mom, who was in the front yard, asked Butch, “What happened? What’s wrong with the water?”
“It’s boiling hot!” he said.
That’s when I looked at Butch and said, “So…now do you want a glass of lemonade?”
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