Building a business from the ground up is no small feat. But Jasson Gilmore, senior vice president of global digital & consumer marketing for Allergan Aesthetics, has done it three times. Discover how his talents as an entrepreneur are being leveraged to drive innovation with his Data Labs team.
I got into entrepreneurship by accident. It happened right around the time Google had just gone public and a second tech boom had started to surge. I came across a posting for a digital media company in Orange County. It sounded interesting, so I applied and got the job. What I didn’t realize was I was employee number one.
In that start-up, I did everything from write the contracts and sell to clients, to bookkeeping, hiring, and managing our engineering group. It was a really interesting experience. Once we sold that business, I had caught the start-up bug and went on to launch two other digital media companies.
My kids tell our neighbors I sell beauty products, which is actually true I guess. We established Data Labs to connect consumers to aesthetic treatments that could benefit them, and there’s a variety of strategies and technologies we use to do that. Allē, our software platform, is one of them. We also leverage digital marketing, data science and engineering, product and software engineering, brand strategy, promotions, content marketing and personalization to grow the business and improve our patients’ experience.
The nexus between technology, marketing and data. In the future, all marketing will be “personalized”, whether it’s targeting HCPs, consumers or other intermediaries. What I think is compelling may be very different than what you think is compelling. To effectively do this, you need very specialized skills. You need enormous amounts of data, which is increasingly difficult to gather. You need efficient media and analytical capabilities. You need creative capacity. It’s multidisciplinary and complex, but when it comes together, it’s incredibly productive and ultimately means we reach more patients. That is what I love about what I do. When you do it well, it actually matters.
Several things are striking to me. First, the size and scale of the company. You read about it, but operating in it makes it more real. For me, having spent most of my career in small start-up environments, I had thought Allergan was very large. AbbVie is larger still. Second, the company is very disciplined and willing to resource the right things, which is a great advantage. Finally, the incredible work of the R&D organization. The science we develop is particularly impressive. The incredible work we do, the impact it has, it’s something everyone ought to be very proud of.
The most formative experience for me was also my worst. As I was building my start-up, our revenue at one point was highly dependent on Google organic search. We thought we were smart and doing really well, but then one day Google decided to change its algorithms to make it harder for folks like us to arbitrage their traffic. In the span of 4 weeks, we saw our revenue decline by about 90%. We struggled to fix it and ended up having to let go of a lot of our team which was very difficult. We also had to pivot our revenue model over 18 months without any guarantee of success.
Even though we got lucky in the end, that whole experience shaped a lot of the way I operate today. The most obvious thing I learned is to always diversify your revenue stream. So today I make sure we always maintain a diverse portfolio of projects. I also learned a lot about the importance of a team after seeing how my team really rallied to stand by each other during that difficult period. Not to mention the value and character that comes from resilience.
My team. Giving people meaningful responsibilities that help push them beyond the boundaries of what that they think they can achieve. Being able to see them grow and develop and really come into their fullest expression professionally. These are the things that motivate me the most.
Hands down the most important quality to me is humility. As I get older it’s increasingly clear to me that finding hard skills is relatively easy, but finding people who know their own limits, are motivated to transcend them and are respectful of the value others can bring, including customers, is essential. It never fails to surprise me how little I know about my own job. Each day I get a little more humbled than the day before. That leads to the second quality I look for: ownership and hustle. You have to work hard if you are humble and realize every problem you face is fundamentally your problem to solve. You get hit with the reality that things are hard and you aren’t as good as you’d like to think. You have to close that gap with effort and extreme ownership.