Ben Chestnut is one of the co-founders of an email marketing company called Mailchimp. Furthermore, he is the company's CEO, meaning that he is the one responsible for overseeing its operations. In recent times, Chestnut and the other co-founder Dan Kurzius have been mentioned a lot in the news because both of them have become multi-billionaires thanks to a $12 billion buyout by Intuit. Here are 10 things you didn't know about Ben Chestnut:
1. Born and Raised in Augusta, GA
Chestnut was born and raised in Augusta, GA, a consolidated city-county that can be found on the state's central eastern border. It has a population of more than two hundred thousand people, which is enough to make it Georgia's third most populous city. Augusta is interesting in that it is something of a regional center for biotech, medicine, and cybersecurity.
2. Went to a Couple of Universities in Georgia
It is no exaggeration to say that Chestnut has a strong connection to his home state. This can be seen in how he went to a couple of universities in Georgia. First, Chestnut went to the University of Georgia with its main campus in Athens, GA. Second, he went to the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA, which tends to be called either Tech or Georgia Tech for the sake of convenience.
3. Studied Physics and Then Industrial Design
Speaking of which, Chestnut studied physics and then industrial design at the aforementioned universities. Physics is a field that speaks for itself. As for industrial design, it refers to the process of designing physical products that are meant to be mass-produced. It can sound simple and straightforward. In practice, well, suffice to say that it needs to consider a number of factors such as materials, business strategy, and manufacturing processes while working under a number of constraints such as cost, function, and marketing. Thanks to that, some industrial design cases can be much more complicated than others.
4. Has Said that the Smell of Business Is a Mix of Hairspray and Cigarette Smoke
A person's experiences can cause them to associate seemingly unrelated things with one another. For instance, Chestnut has said that he considers the smell of business to be a mix of hairspray and cigarette smoke. This is because his mother used to run a hair salon in their kitchen when he was growing up. As a result, the ladies from their neighborhood would fill up their kitchen, their dining room, and their living room, bringing with them the smell of hairspray as well as cigarette smoke. Chestnut has fond memories of that period, thus creating that association on his part.
5. Fond of Cars
On a related note, Chestnut is fond of cars. In fact, he was so fond of cars that he wanted to become a car designer, which is why he studied industrial design. Even now, Chestnut remains fond of cars. Something that causes him to make car analogies on a regular basis even though he is now in a very different field. As for why Chestnut likes cars, he has said that he finds them to be empowering. Furthermore, he seems to see them as interesting because of the sheer range of processes that have to come together to produce them.
6. He Wasn't Very Good at Industrial Design
Eventually, Chestnut got the opportunity to become an industrial design intern, which revealed that he wasn't very well-suited for becoming an industrial designer. In fact, an industrial designer at the company where he was interning outright told him to go into web design. Fortunately, Chestnut's own research into the matter backed up that recommendation. Some of the same things that he loved about industrial design held true for web design. Better still, web design was a much faster process, which was apparently a major upside for him.
7. Had to Chart His Own Course in Getting Involved in Web Design
Chestnut remained in school. However, he had to chart his own course because web design was still such a new field in those days, meaning that the right education programs just didn't exist then. Chestnut learned what he could from his school while teaching himself the rest of the skills that he needed. On top of that, he took every opportunity to create websites for the professors who needed them, thus providing himself with practical experience.
8. Has Defended the Use of Email Marketing
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chestnut has defended the continuing use of email marketing in modern times. After all, his company is involved in said field. For those who are unfamiliar, there is a belief that email marketing has become outdated because of the rise of social media. There is some truth to this. However, it is much exaggerated because email marketing and social media marketing aren't head-to-head competitors. If anything, they are often used as complements to one another, thus enabling them to achieve results that are greater than the sum of their parts.
9. Never Took Outside Funding
Chestnut and the other co-founder Kurzius are unusual in that they have never taken outside funding for their company. It is common for start-up companies to take outside funding, thus enabling them to fuel their growth faster than otherwise possible. Of course, the downside would be a loss of control on the founders' part because every bit of outside funding comes with obligations to outside parties. As such, Mailchimp was a notable stand-out, which resulted in Chestnut and Kurzius being asked a lot of questions about their consistent decision-making in this regard.
10. Now a Multi-Billionaire
Regardless, this means that both Chestnut and Kurzius are now multi-billionaires because of the Intuit buyout, which consisted of $12 billion in both cash and stocks. Since they never took outside funding, this means that they are now reaping the rewards. Interestingly, Chestnut has mentioned that he is now thinking about life beyond Mailchimp, which isn't the whole of his existence.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee