Chris Young is such a busy man these days even his bathroom breaks have to be penciled in. So you can’t really knock the co-founder/CEO of Klipmart for recently deciding it was high time to hire some help. “I never knew it was possible to be this booked,” he says. “I’ve had [to hire] a personal assistant…to help me manage my schedule, because it’s just insane.”
Considering the newfound ubiquity of his six-year-old business, such “insanity” makes sense. In the online space, the name Klipmart has become as analogous to video as the name Google is to search. Those hilarious Ali G spots promoting the NBA on TNT? Klipmart. Those expandable ad units for Jarhead, Sprite and Disney? Klipmart, Klipmart, Klipmart. In an industry that’s quickly distinguishing its few innovators from thousands of imitators, Klipmart’s hi-res video ad delivery has placed them firmly in the former strata.
While the convergence of TV and the Internet is what’s sweeping the industry today, Young was already grappling with this concept in 1999, when he started Klipmart out of his apartment in New York’s East Village. As Young recalls from Klipmart’s current Park Avenue digs (another sign of just how far he’s come), all it took was a friend’s idea to plant the seed. “A friend of mine From college came to me and said, ‘TV is a tried-and-true medium. It’s just a matter of time before the 30-second spot makes its way online. What do you think?”‘
At first, it seemed like an unlikely proposal—especially considering that at the time Young had yet to dip his toes into the online space (at the time he was earning wages as an investment banker for Citigroup). But according to the chief exec, entrepreneurship is something that’s been in his blood since he was a young lad. “I had always been a serial entrepreneur as a kid,” he says with a laid-back Northeastern drawl that seems somewhat out-of-place on a man raised in London. “When I was a junior in high-school, I decided I wanted to get my MBA as well so that I could have the biggest toolbox available to me.”
Young found his higher-education aspirations too big for London, so he carried them across the Atlantic to a place he felt was better suited to meet them: New York City. “I got to the city when I was 24, and I said, in five years I want to have launched my own business,” Young explains. “I had three goals: First, I wanted to develop a network of contacts to help me launch my own business, get the best experience I [could] and then build up my castle base.”
After earning an MBA from RPI in 1997, Young didn’t wait long before setting his game plan in motion. Once that college friend approached him with the idea to bring video ads online, Young pounced—despite any real experience in the online world. And the rest, as they call it, is history.