Chris Redlitz – Founder of Kicklabs

[quote style=”boxed”]I spend a lot of time reading, observing and talking with people. To stay relevant in today’s market you can never stop learning and you must remain open and receptive to change. I make sure that I have several hours a week for time to ponder and reflect. This can come on my bike, a trail hike or in the garden. [/quote]

Chris Redlitz has been on the forefront of emerging technologies since the commercialization of the web. In 1997 he co-founded AdAuction, the first online media exchange; the precursor to auction based and dynamic pricing platforms for online media. Chris was instrumental in restructuring business strategies for marketing and lead generation companies GetRelevant (acquired by Lycos), and Aptimus (acquired by Apollo LLC). He launched the first online independent yellow page directory, automated coupon platform, RSS advertising, and helped develop the first peer to peer ad delivery system.

He received Ad Age’s prestigious i20 award for his contributions to the development of interactive marketing and advertising. Chris is a founding partner of Transmedia Capital in San Francisco, a seed stage investment fund focused on emerging digital media companies. He also the founder of KickLabs, one of the top technology accelerators in the country. Chris spent more than ten years at Reebok International where he held positions in sales and marketing and also owned one of the first sports retail chains in Southern California. For twenty years, Chris was distance runner completing multiple marathons and ultra marathons.

Today Chris Redlitz is a certified spin instructor, avid cyclist, golfer, and skier. True to his passion for health and fitness, he serves on the board of Body Ami, a producer of organic health products. He also has a small flock of hens and tends to his organic garden.

Chris is also the Founder of The Last Mile project San Quentin State Prison, California, focused on reducing recidivism in our country and creating a more effective reentry program.

What are you working on right now?

Personally I am recovering from a bike crash last month on Mt. Tam in Marin. I broke my clavicle and scapula. The recovery is slow, but I’ll be back with a vengeance. Professionally we are in the midst of several investments, mobile and commerce. The market is frothy, but there are a lot of great opportunities and talented young entrepreneurs.

What does your typical day look like?

I am an early riser, usually up by 5:30am. I drink my Body Ami apple cider vinegar and a green shake, and check email, Twitter, my Percolate feed and feed the chickens. After that I’ll do a short yoga/stretching session in our home studio. I usually ride my spin bike for 60 to 90 minutes and three days a week I’ll include circuit training with weights at the Bay Club. I try to get out at least one day a week for a road or trail ride, and I’m definitely out on the weekend.

I head to our office in the city by 9am if I don’t have remote meetings scheduled. Two afternoons a week we reserve for pitch meetings with prospective companies. I usually leave the city by 6:30pm or 7pm if I don’t have a business dinner scheduled. After dinner I’ll check email and I might have a brief conversation with one of our portfolio CEOs.

3 trends that excite you?

There is a lot that excites me about the future of digital media, but the ubiquity of mobile devices has completely changed the way we operate as businesses and consumers. Mobile payments, new advertising models and location based services are three areas within mobile that we are just beginning to gain significant traction. It’s almost like the internet has started over again with mobile platforms.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I spend a lot of time reading, observing and talking with people. To stay relevant in today’s market you can never stop learning and you must remain open and receptive to change. I make sure that I have several hours a week for time to ponder and reflect. This can come on my bike, a trail hike or in the garden. Today, our business is more focused on helping to nurture companies that are beyond the idea stage. Once the ideas are brought to life, we try to make sure they keep living.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by many things. I love working with smart, motivated entrepreneurs that are passionate about their business and about life. We invest in people, so we need to have a connection with our founders for us to fully leverage our ability to add value. I am inspired by where I live, work and recreate. It’s hard to beat San Francisco and Marin County. I get inspiration by my chickens. This may sound a little crazy, but nothing fazes them and they are tough sobs.

One of my chickens was attacked by a bobcat on my property. I was able to rescue the chicken from the bobcat, and I thought the bird was dead. She recovered and she is one of the most vibrant and productive hens in the flock, that’s inspiration. Most of all, I am inspired by my wife. She has been my life partner and my business partner for nearly 10 years, and never wavers in her support, regardless of what crazy ideas or projects I might pursue.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

I let my emotions speak instead of thinking about my response, as they say: ready, shoot, aim. What I’ve learned: Take a deep breath and think before I respond verbally or push the send button.

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

Obesity in this country is accelerating at a ridiculous rate. We need a system that can reward people for health and fitness, and penalize people for neglecting their fitness. The burden of support for the consequences of obesity ultimately comes back to the taxpayers. I’d like to see a mobile device that monitors weight, BMI and other vital signs on a monthly basis. Results should be very transparent, including a natural game layer.  Incentives can come from employers, insurance companies, sponsors and tax benefits.

There are obvious privacy issues and the ever present issue of political correctness. This is not necessarily a revolutionary idea, but we need to find some solutions, reward success and/or create some pain for those who are dragging us down. I think that our society and culture is far too tolerant, and we are all paying the price. The new product from Jawbone called Up is a nice attempt, but we need to attach accountability to the vital stats extracted from the device.

What do you read every day? Why?

I scan my feeds: Twitter, Percolate, Stock Portfolio, The Daily Love, Sky Grid. I save stories that I want to read later with Instapaper. I read the WSJ (I still get the real newspaper). I check to see if Mark Suster, Fred Wilson and several others have anything worth re-tweeting, and they usually do.

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

Richard Branson is not a tech guy, but he is a balsy entrepreneur. His book Losing My Virginity is worth reading.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

I can’t live without my Droid X. Why don’t I have an iphone? Because I actually want to make calls… I also have my Flip camera ready because you never know…

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Freeway Rick Ross, one of the most prolific drug kingpins in LA in the early 80s (paroled in 2009), and a fascinating guy.
Bernard Hinault, the most prolific rider in Tour de France history, the Babe Ruth of cycling.
Lester Wunderman, one the most prolific ad men from the heyday of Madison Avenue, the father of direct marketing.

What drives you professionally?

We are in the age of innovation and there is no other place to be than here in the center of innovation. In years past, it took many years for aspiring brands to become global brands. Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube became ubiquitous in less than 5 years. I want to be part of this Wild West as long as I can.

What drives you personally?

I think there is a lot that we can contribute in our own unique way. My kids are grown, so I have more opportunity to focus on my health and promote some of the things that are important to me, hopefully making a difference. I believe that  success is the positive legacy that you leave with your family and your community.

Connect :
Twittter : @chrisredlitz
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[box size=”small” border=”full”]This interview was brought to you by Rohit Jain who works in business development. You can follow Rohit via his blog and on Twitter. [/box]