Recently hired as inMotionNow’s first Chief Marketing Officer, Withers hosted a fireside chat with the company’s 60+ employees during his first week on the job. The topic was familiar to the fast-growing startup’s employees. In fact, it was an explainer on why the software they’d dedicated the past four years to building was so important for the marketing industry. Even though he was speaking to those most familiar with it’s benefits, Withers’ was able to provide external validation of the product’s usefulness to creative teams. His experience indirectly and directly managing creative teams provided context and first-hand examples of the benefits clients would realize after adopting the software.
While each hire is essential to the company’s future, snagging someone like Withers helps position the company as industry thought leaders. CEO Ben Hartmere says, “as the company continues to grow up we want to be a brand that creative teams look to as true experts and opinion leaders.” Withers’ hire will help the company make that transition.
From Oxford to the Triangle
Withers, a former corporate executive with experience building teams and marketing solutions was exactly the type of hire Hartmere said he hoped to find. His hire was made possible by the $3.1 million Series A round of institutional capital the startup raised from Eastside Partners in May.
They’ve expanded at a rapid clip since Hartmere took the reins as CEO in 2013, but have accelerated hiring since the most-recent close. They’re still hiring, too—12 positions are listed as open at the time of this article’s publication. Hartmere expects the company to boast 70 employees by year end, a 40 percent increase since the beginning of 2016.
Withers says he’s “always been a marketer at heart.” After growing up in Oxford, England, Withers attended Cardiff Business school in Cardiff, Wales, where he gained the foundational skills that would help build his storied career doing what he loves most—connecting customers to businesses through strategic, thoughtful marketing.
He started off as a brand manager for Britivic Stoft Drinks, the exclusive supplier of Pepsi products in the UK. He says, “there’s no better training” for understanding the “true need and psychology of the consumer,” than marketing a name-brand consumer product like Pepsi. He continued his corporate career when he relocated to NYC and made the jump from consumer products to the highly regarded news organization, Financial Times, where he “fell in love with the collision between media, marketing and technology,” an intersection where he would stay for the next 14 years. At the Financial Times, he led the website’s transition to a subscriber model, helping it become one of the only news organizations to successfully execute the revenue model. He also managed at least 20 websites, brands, and marketing efforts for the United States Golf Association (USGA).
His startup experience comes from the nearly three years he spent at the Boston-based startup software company, Attivio where he helped triple the company’s employee count and position it for its 2012 Series D raise of $41.9 Million. And most recently, he was the Vice President of Marketing at LexisNexis, the provider of a variety of workflow and research solutions for a variety of professions like attorneys, government officials, public safety officers, and academics. There he led all the marketing teams, coordinated their efforts, built the company’s brand, and developed the company’s marketing strategies.
Moving from the Corporate World to the Startup Community
After raising funds in Q2, Hartmere knew they would scale quicker and better with someone with corporate, startup and enterprise experience to add to what he describes as their “nimble but effective” marketing team. And they wanted someone who could help grow company sales brand recognition while still being able to focus on fostering the organization’s employee growth and development—an important part of the startup’s award-winning culture.
Ever on the lookout for talent, he met Withers through friends from his son’s swim team. When the first chatted about the opportunity, Withers says, “there was no way I was going to leave LexisNexis.” But the more he learned about inMotionNow’s product, team, culture, and leadership, the more he “fell in love with the opportunity.”
He was intrigued by the startup community, too. While he says he wouldn’t have left his corporate job for just any startup, he was attracted by the pace, growth, excitement, and energy of the region’s startup community and the culture Hartmere and his team built. Withers says inMotionNow was, “the right product, I understood right away where I could help it grow, was impressed with the people and processes and could see why they were growing.”
But the driving force behind his decision, he says, is what’s driven him all along—his lifelong passion for marketing. While happy at LexisNexis, Withers recognized that short of becoming an attorney, he’d never be a subject-matter expert on the company’s products. After nearly two decades in the marketing profession, he was immediately a subject-matter expert at inMotionNow. And now, he says, he has the opportunity to help shape the industry and support his peers in ways he never could at any of his previous employers.
Hartmere’s first task for Withers was observe and evaluate the company’s marketing strategies, operations, and culture. As Hartmere says, “you only get one opportunity to just listen and evaluate.” Once he’s observed what’ working and what’s not, Withers role will be to support the business’ growth by building upon the current marketing team’s skills and expertise, growing the sales pipeline and growing the brand.
Fresh from the corporate exec role, Withers says he’s excited to “roll up his sleeves” and get back into the weeds to design the company’s marketing strategy. “The creative teams feel overworked, the marketers feel like the creative process can’t keep up. What should be a symbiotic relationship is really strained,” he says describing the problem inMotionNow’s SaaS software solves.
The opportunity to help enhance inMotionNow’s ability to rectify this relationship for his former colleagues and peers is what really excites Withers and drew him to the startup.
If he’s successful, he’ll be able to increase inMotionNow and his old colleagues’ success.