Pete Blackshaw operates at the heady nexus of marketing innovation, digital transformation, and entrepreneurial thinking. Throughout his career, Pete has been a marketer at Procter & Gamble and Nestle, an entrepreneur, a digital guru, an author, a data analyst, and a community service leader. Much of his success is tied to how he often manages to effortlessly juggle these roles simultaneously, while taking their best attributes to form an enduring vision. Although these varied disciplines may initially appear to be unrelated, all underscore his relentless drive to empower individuals and change the status quo.
Pete now serves as CEO of Cintrifuse, the Cincinnati-based startup community and investment fund that boasts backers like as P&G and Kroger. Interestingly, Cincinnati was named the Most Sustainable City in the U.S. by Site Selection magazine (2018, 2019), and then ranked #2 in 2020. Green initiatives are very much on Pete’s mind, and he believes there is an untapped synergy between two extreme passion points of today’s youth – GREEN and GAMING. He says, “The gaming generation is comfortable with dilemmas — problems that cannot be solved, but which must be managed with creativity and agility. They are not as intimidated as we are by being blind-sided, disrupted, or presented with unsolvable problems.”
He thinks what’s missing is engaging gaming content that speaks to this generation’s climate change passion (and impatience). (He suggests game concepts like Carbon Crusaders, EV Road Race, Footprint Fighters, Solar Hero.) Pete sees Web3 and the explosion of sponsored eSports– which he says gives advertisers heightened content leverage—as opening the door for a greater green and gaming convergence.
In our conversation, we discuss the following:
- Talk a little about Cincinnati. Most people know it as the headquarters of both P&G and Kroger but may not know much more. What about the city lends itself to the mission of Cintrifuse?
- Tell us how issues of sustainability marry with both startups and the world of marketing and brands.
- What do you think motivates today’s entrepreneurs? And how are today’s business models changing?
- What should the responsibilities of Startup Hubs be now—in a world that’s changing rapidly to adapt to new notions of work—and meaningful work– following a global pandemic?
- How would you define the entrepreneurial mindset now?
- So, what is the connection between marketing innovation and entrepreneurial success? You once said that a lesson from your first job was that “Marketing only matters if you close the sale.” Does that still apply?
- What’s ahead for you and Cintrifuse? I’d think that what you’re championing in Cincinnati is needed in other cities…
Pete Blackshaw is CEO of Cintrifuse, a syndicate “fund of funds” and startup incubator created by P&G, Kroger, Western & Southern and other major entities in the Greater Cincinnati region. He’s dedicated to developing a world-class innovation ecosystem to fuel economic growth, local attractiveness, jobs and big company innovation.
He recently served as VP of Digital Innovation and Service Models, and earlier Global Head of Digital Marketing. & Social Media, at Nestle, S.A.s global headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. Pete pioneered Nestle’s industry-recognized Digital Acceleration Team (DAT), the Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost (SVIO). the HENRi Open Innovation platform, and the migration of 210,000 employees to the Facebook Workplace collaboration platform. He served as CMO of NM Incite, a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey centering around enterprise social media strategy and insights.
He is author of a book by Doubleday entitled “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000: Running a Business in Today’s Consumer-Driven World,” and periodically authors columns in Advertising Age centered around the book’s themes. Pete founded PlanetFeedback.com http://PlanetFeedback.com, one of the web’s first consumer-feedback portals, and co-founded the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).
He recently served as Chairman of the Board of the National Council of Better Business Bureaus and in that capacity sat on the National Advertising Review Council. Pete is a graduate of Harvard Business School and the University of California, Santa Cruz.