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Serial entrepreneur, Brian Underwood, is a full-speed ahead amalgamation of savvy, hip tech CEO and caring, good ole boy Kentucky charm. He is a global innovator, a title he’s earned over 20 years of building companies that transcend the marketplace, and a youthful motivator, leading with authenticity, a team mentality, and a passionate heart. He is a new breed of CEO. Renown as a world-class strategist and thought leader in the mobile space, Brian established one of the most recognizable brands in text marketing, as CEO of iZigg and 90210 mobile, and he did it in under a year. Today, as CEO of Rippln, his mobile-social app company, his sights are set on creating a movement that will redefine the interplay of social networks and mobile commerce. He and his team have developed a mobile platform that will sail in “Blue Ocean” territory, using an enabling technology that is powered by the people to reward the people. It is based on a strategy of mobile engagement, gamification, and transformation. The result, he believes, will be a new monetary model for “eyeball acquisition”.
Brian has a long history of growing companies from small to large, putting work forces of 10,000 plus people together in a matter of months and peaking their enthusiasm to tackle the world. At nearly 20 years old, Brian watched his entrepreneurial basketball coach go from making $35,000/year to $1 million annually. He decided at that moment that ‘If he can do it, I can do it’, and Brian has never looked back. To hear him describe his career, however, it sounds simplistic. “I’ve built companies. Some have failed, some have sold, some I’ve kept. Through it all, the experiences I’ve had and lessons learned always lead me to my next venture.” In fact, Brian has had huge successes. One company continues to do over $100 million in revenue globally each year.
Brian Underwood has always wanted to make a difference and impact people, the economy, and the world. This explains why he calls entrepreneurship his “crack”. Connecting the dots and inspiring change has always been a burning flame inside Brian. This desire has fueled his every move, whether building a company, creating shifts in behavior, or giving a speech in middle school. As a 6th grader, he entered a “Jr. Optimist” contest put on by the Lion’s Club. His speech won first prize. In it he wrote that he wanted to speak in a stadium full of thousands of people, a dream too lofty for most. Brian realized that dream at a young age and has spoken in front of tens of thousands of people throughout his career.
In 1993 Brian decided it was time to give back to the sport of basketball, which had given him so much over the years. He began Blue Chip Allstars, a high-exposure basketball camp for girls with a mission to “educate girls through basketball”. From it stemmed a women’s sports clothing line and one of the most successful brands in girls basketball. To date, Blue Chip Allstars has placed over 1,000 young women in college, helping them achieve their dreams, and has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research through their annual “Shooting for the Cure” fundraising event. Philanthropy has always been an integral part of Brian’s projects. He believes that giving back is not only a responsibility as a human being but an important part of galvanizing the communities that he creates.
Brian understands that the key to winning is putting the right team together, a lesson he learned growing up in athletics. He was an All-American basketball player at McDonalds High School in Louisville, KY and a walk-on at University of Kentucky during the wildcats 1996 “magical NCAA Championship year” under coach Rick Pitino. What’s really impressive about his success in basketball is that Brian stands at 5’10” tall. Brian is clear that it takes more than talent to win big in sports, life and business. Similar to a point guard on the basketball team, he focuses on blending the right talent to win. Team fit is everything to him. He often quips, “Many people Can do it, but very few Will do it.” He looks for the doers, the individuals who “have a head to think for themselves, shoulders to carry their weight, and a heart to see the job through across the finish line”. He is one of the best in the world at pulling resources together to build the dream team who will achieve the outcome.
Brian’s management style is simple. It is what sets him apart. He doesn’t believe in leveraging from the top down. Rather, he insists on putting the weight on his shoulders, so that his team can focus on their talents. His personal philosophy is that “everything lives and dies on the leadership, and the essence of leadership is doing what hasn’t been done.” Constantly growing and stepping up his game are expectations he puts upon himself and also inspires in his team.
Brian Underwood is many things; a large-conceptual thinker, philanthropist, fierce competitor, transparent leader, basketball enthusiast, big-picture strategist and passionate entrepreneur. What’s unusual is that he’s always striving to improve and share his lessons with the rest of the world. Now Brian is taking his fascination with human behavior into the “big data”, “mobile disruption” conversation through Rippln. His goal?.. to build a socially-conscious, big data company that will allow the rest of the world to improve and reach their goals right along with him. As far as Brian’s concerned, there is nothing that can’t be achieved together.