This April, we welcomed Jim Ensell to the Brainbase team as our Chief Marketing Officer. Get to know more about Jim and hear about his past experiences, and what he’s excited for at Brainbase, below.
Give a brief history of your previous experience and what made you decide to be a part of Brainbase.
Jim: My background is quite diverse. I began as an electrical engineer and moved up the ranks. Then, I moved into marketing as I realized that was my destiny. I’ve held marketing leadership positions in various public and privately held companies, ranging from startups to billion dollar-plus enterprises in many different markets delivering SaaS, cloud, enterprise SW, and open source solutions.
I most recently was CMO at Chili Piper, a leader in the meeting automation space. While there, we grew revenue by well over 100%. We closed 9 new logos the month I started, and 75 new logos in my last month. I had the pleasure of building a world-class marketing team from scratch, launched a product-led free-to-pay business model, and helped establish Chili Piper as one of the coolest brands in sales and marketing tech.
I find the opportunity here at Brainbase to create a new category and disrupt the IP licensing industry incredibly exciting. I joined to be a part of this bold journey. I bought into Nate’s vision for the future of Brainbase from the first time I met him.
What skills and experience are you excited about bringing to Brainbase?
Jim: I have been fortunate to have had a lot of great learning experiences in my marketing career, but consider corporate positioning, category creation, driving market awareness, and demand/pipeline generation to be the areas of strength that I am most excited about bringing to Brainbase.
Any upcoming projects you’re excited about/ excited to take on?
Jim: The first is creating a scalable, metrics-driven demand generation engine. We are pretty much starting from scratch in this area, but I am excited about the challenge and potential. We’ve started with campaigns to capture existing demand, but need to create new demand while establishing our organic brand at the same time. Since this is a new category, our target market needs to be better educated about the problem space to drive consideration of our product.
I am also incredibly excited about being a part of the upcoming launch of two new game-changing products, while generating pipeline and awareness for them. One of them will provide our first foray into product-led growth, another facet of this launch that very much excites me.
I also look forward to working with the team to ideate and execute game changing initiatives that can elevate our brand at a rapid pace.
How do you think Brainbase is changing the licensing industry?
Jim: Brainbase is disrupting an intellectual property industry that is ripe for the taking. Simplifying and automating the entire lifecycle from trademark filing to protecting and monetizing IP is a bold and exciting vision that Brainbase is uniquely positioned to deliver on.
What motivates you?
Jim: Winning in the market, working with people that I enjoy working with and for. I love to work hard, but get motivated the most when I am having fun at the same time. I am especially motivated in environments where openness, transparency, and collaboration are real parts of the company culture.
Additionally, I love establishing new categories in different markets, and executing marketing plans to establish leadership positions in those categories.
Last but not least, I get motivated by fast growth and building companies. There’s nothing more fun than being part of a successful growth company in a place where the engines are firing and everyone is doing their part.
How do you measure success (with Brainbase or yourself)?
Jim: I try to set goals that meet or beat expectations, and work as hard as I can to complete those goals. I measure my success through progress, fulfillment, and self-pride.
With respect to marketing specifically, I bring a metrics mindset to marketing, driven a lot from my engineering background. I am a firm believer in Peter Drucker’s famous quote that “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”. There are numerous metrics we’ll be measuring across all aspects of marketing, which I look forward to putting in place over time.
What about marketing are you passionate about? What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in marketing thus far?
Jim: Over the years and especially in my most recent experience at Chili Piper, I’ve learned to never underestimate the importance of understanding your buyers and customer advocacy. Every marketer on successful marketing teams understands their customers deeply and communicates with them in ways that create affinity for the product category. Likewise, getting customers to recommend you because they love your product is the single, most important thing to get right. If you do, and do everything you can to amplify their positive experiences, success will follow.
Another important one to mention here is to invest in establishing a strong brand. People are more likely to recommend you if they love what you stand for. Video plays an important role here as it is much stronger at conveying emotions than any other media. Being human-first and developing content that really helps your target personas are critical here as well.
What’s an interesting or unique experience from your career you’d like to share?
Jim: While serving as CMO at Electric Cloud a number of years back, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to reposition and rebrand the company from being a software tools company in the software build and test space, to becoming a recognized category leader in the DevOps space.
There were a number of things we did to accomplish this, but perhaps the single biggest needle mover was the creation of the DevOps Enterprise Summit. Together with Gene Kim, thought leader and author of the book “The Phoenix Project”, we established what ultimately has become THE DevOps conference of the year. C-Level execs in companies including Disney, Target, Nike, Capital One, etc. gave presentations to audiences of 1000+ people about their DevOps journeys, analysts from Forrester and Gartner gave live presentations without being paid, and our competitors paid us significant dollars to sponsor the event. It turned out to be a game-changing initiative for us that generated awareness for Electric Cloud as a major DevOps player, got us top right quadrant ratings in Gartner’s MQ and Forrester’s Wave, and fueled significant bookings growth for the company. This event is still run today in both the US and in EMEA each year.
Overall, it far exceeded any goals we had set for it when we set out with Gene to make this happen.
Do you have any after-work hobbies/activities?
Jim: Outside of work, I am an avid golfer and sports fan. Being born and raised in Philadelphia, I have a deep affection for Philadelphia professional sports teams and Villanova basketball.
Other than that, I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I also enjoy hiking and working out on my newly acquired Hydrow!
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself?
Jim: Friends and family are everything to me. I look forward to establishing many new friends in my upcoming years at Brainbase.