Entrepreneur goes the Distance - and more Interactive Marketing Leaders

March 15, 1999


This is one of an ongoing series of articles on interactive marketing leaders who are doing things other marketers could learn from. They are not yet household names. The executives we profile are laboring in the trenches today and will be in the headlines tomorrow. They're the emerging leaders of an emerging marketing discipline.

Name, rank and serial number: Douglas Spink, 27, entrepreneur, vice president of marketing, G.I. Joe's Inc., Wilsonville, Ore.

Latest Accomplishment: In September, sold his start-up, Timberline Direct of Hillsboro, Ore., to sports retailer G.I. Joe's, Inc.

CV: B.A. in cultural anthropology, Reed College; M.B.A., University of Chicago. Stints at Boston Consulting Group and direct marketing consultancies Tessera Enterprise Systems and Ideon Group. Started Timberline in 1996 with endurance sports nutrition Web site, Athletica.com. Added specialty catalogs for snowboarders (Gravitygames) and duck hunters (Tidewater Specialties). Sold out with an ROI 28 times the initial investment in less than two years.

Why he sold: Wants to focus on brands and marketing. Didn't want to focus on raising capital and taking the company public.

Mantra: "God is in the details."

Puts academic theory into practice: Disagrees with "rational man" theory of economic behavior. Understands Porter's five forces but builds businesses based on social scientists like Durkheim and Weber. "We contextualize our world through a system of meanings and relationships, systems of social reciprocity, (and) that's what branding is all about."

Entrepreneurial advice: "Throw a lot of passion at the wall and see what sticks. In the early days there's more passion than revenue. Over time the revenue starts to backfill the passion."

Should you be an entrepreneur?: "Don't play the game, unless you're willing to pay the price. You burn the candle at both ends, and there are a couple of flames at various points in the middle. If it were easy, everyone would do it."Don't think of it as glamorous. I spend my days arguing with vendors about payment terms trying to clear up bad invoices. (But) in corporate life, passion is a disincentive. As an entrepreneur, if you don't have passion, you shouldn't be doing it.

"It's not about the latest email technology. It's not about servers. It's not about bits and bytes at all. It's about the practicalities of running the business."

In his spare time: Ultra-marathon running (distances over 26.2 miles), rock climbing, kick boxing, Jiu Jitsu and horseback riding. Breeds champion golden retrievers. Starting his J.D. degree in the fall. Thinking about finishing his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology.

Regrets: "There are only 24 hours in a day and you have to sleep at least six of them."

Michael Krauss is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at news@ama.org.







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