By Kendall Fisher, executive producer at Grow Wire
Chris Gladwin is one of those people who was destined for entrepreneurialism, and he knew that at a young age.
Inspired by the movie Hellfighters (a John Wayne film about oil well firefighters), Gladwin made up his mind early on that he wanted to do “entrepreneurial things” (his words). What he probably did not realize was that he’d end up starting four major companies amid several other ventures.
But let’s back up really quick.
Gladwin grew up in Ohio and only left the state for the first time to attend MIT. It was there that a friend talked him into taking a graduate class in entrepreneurship, which led to his first go at starting a company: He wrote a business plan for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio to install and integrate IBM computers into its workforce.
And thus began Gladwin’s career trajectory of “entrepreneurial things.”
On this episode of “The Grow Wire Podcast,” Gladwin takes us on his incredible journey from that point forward: The years he spent working for Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin), evaluating information technology products, to his time at Zenith Data Systems, building ethernet into portable PCs before any other PC manufacturer was doing it, and then to founding his first company, Cruise Technologies, developing Wireless Thin Clients—essentially, the tablet of the ‘90s—for customers whose employees didn’t have a desk to work on a PC (warehousing employees, nurses, etc).
Gladwin’s entrepreneurial journey only continued from there. In 1999, he founded MusicNow, a music subscription service that saw 100,000 paying customers and 20,000 monthly subscribers—yes, before iTunes was a thing (that’s a frustrating subject Gladwin dives into on the episode). He explains how MusicNow created a natural bridge into his next company, Cleversafe, the largest data storage system in the world, which he sold to IBM for $1.3 billion, as well as his current venture, Ocient, building new technology to analyze the world’s largest data sets, faster than ever before.
Needless to say, this guy knows a good idea when he sees one, and more importantly, he knows how to turn those ideas into something massively successful.
Make sure to turn into this episode for some of his biggest lessons learned, insight and advice on starting a company. Listen on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and YouTube.