A Slice on Ross Gray, Co-Founder and COO of Cloud Campaign
It all started with a snowboarding trip with a mutual friend turned co-founder, Ryan Born. Sharing horror stories about their prior work experiences and getting to know each other in a professional realm, it only took two weeks for them to get into business together. Like most companies starting out, it wasn’t glamorous all the time. The two of them worked out of a basement before getting accepted into an accelerator in Boulder, CO later serving as one of Cloud Campaign’s office locations. Cloud Campaign is a social media platform that allows companies to scale and empowers agencies to manage multiple brands on social media. Cloud Campaign has raised $5M in funding and is in its series A round.
Boise State marketing degree (in progress) led to a video production company run by Gray and one of his college buddies. Gray describes this company as being “surprisingly successful” and even filmed commercials for big names like Audi. After pursuing this for as long as he could, Gray went back to school to get his Master’s in real estate development. Introduced to his current co-founder, Gray knew their skill sets had to be compatible if they were going to go into business together.
Gray feels fortunate to have been in a geographic location that allows for Cloud Campaign to grow. With many different factors playing into growth, such as investors, Gray wouldn’t change any part of the process. Due to Cloud Campaign’s two locations, Gray describes the different expectations that come along with being in places like Colorado and Oregon compared to Silicon Valley. He emphasizes the differences in the startup communities, with less focus on growing financially, but more so helping each other and providing guidance. As Gray laid roots in Colorado and Oregon, he has been able to find local investors that can provide more than just money to the company. “All the local [Oregon] investors really want to help startups, even before they invest. They were helping us and the same thing goes with active capital in Denver, again they co-led this latest round with us, and before they even invested, they were helping us. These communities are so interconnected, once you get into that you meet all the other investors and advisors and there’s just a wealth of knowledge and support that comes from that.”
Looking back on his entrepreneurial journey thus far, Gray recalls not taking a salary as being the biggest risk. The uncertainty of not knowing if you’re going to be successful is an interesting experience. “Let’s say we didn’t figure it out… six weeks later we closed the doors on the business, and that’s it. Now you just spent a year of your life, and take probably 20 years off of your life for what would have amounted to a learning experience.” Gray views the whole entrepreneurial journey as a risk in itself, but taking on investors is another inevitable risk. It changes the dynamic when taking on that level of responsibility. Looking at the bigger picture, Gray realized that he had a unique opportunity to own a market with Cloud Campaign, so they took the risk and raised their first series round afterward.
Gray and his co-founder have constantly prioritized company culture with their fast-growing team. Cloud Campaign’s team is based on a “flat org” which eliminates employee hierarchy. “You never know where this amazing idea is going to come out of, and it happens all the time.” They pride themselves on allowing everyone to have ownership so the team feels free to make decisions and come up with unique ideas. As the team grows, it’s essential to have an open team dynamic. The company culture is focused on being really open in order to avoid cliques and ensure the new team members feel welcome.
Cloud Campaign’s fast-growing team is one of Gray’s biggest everyday motivators, alongside investors. Providing jobs and watching his team grow is a rewarding feeling that’s unlike anything else, not to mention it makes showing up to work fun. On the flipside, Cloud Campaign works with small and midsize businesses, and Gray has been able to witness others’ entrepreneurial success firsthand. “We have watched as marketing agencies and freelancers have gotten fired or quit their job to start their own entrepreneurial endeavor… We’ve seen people succeed in this and it’s a unique experience.”
Ross Gray holds a B.S. in Marketing from Boise State University and a Master’s of Science in Real Estate from the University of San Diego. Gray has worked in business development, marketing and served as Director at Baramy Investments prior to co-founding Cloud Campaign where he currently serves as COO in Portland, Oregon. Connect with Gray on LinkedIn.