Chris Downie, SparkPeople Founder/CEO and author of the New York Times Best Selling book, The Spark, is an entrepreneurial success story who is now giving back by “sparking” millions of people to reach their goals.
Chris, the self-described “shyest kid in class” during high school, set out to find a way to conquer this anxiety problem. He had initial success using fitness and later added goal setting, leadership, and other skills to build his own personal improvement program that integrates the best from health and fitness experts with the best from goal-setting and behavior change experts.
As he refined the program, it gave Chris the passion and energy to leave Procter & Gamble in 1996 to start an online auction website named Up4Sale with a friend. This company grew into eBay’s leading competitor and was acquired by eBay in 1998, becoming eBay’s first acquisition (approximately a $100 million exit for the Company).
While working at eBay for three years, the Cincinnati native met and married a fellow eBay employee from the California office. They now have two boys.
After reaching many of his own goals, Chris wanted to do more to help others reach their goals. He knows that he never would have met his wife, had his entrepreneurial success – or ramped up his tennis game for that matter – if not for the results from his personal improvement program. He wants others to be able to use his program to reach meaningful goals in their own lives.
To make this happen, Chris started SparkPeople in 2000. SparkPeople’s mission is to SPARK millions of PEOPLE to reach their goals using health and fitness as a springboard to success in all areas of life. SparkPeople is now one of the largest digital health companies in the world with approximately 8-10 million unique visitors per month.
Known online as ‘SparkGuy’ (named by SparkPeople.com members), Chris is not the typical CEO. As SparkPeople’s motivation expert, Chris corresponds directly with members daily. Over the years, he has made well over 10,000 social community posts and has written countless letters celebrating member’s victories, and offering encouraging words at times of struggle. He receives hundreds of emails per month from grateful people who write to thank him or share a story. And, helping him to realize his life’s mission, SparkPeople now has a great team “sparking” people around the world to reach their most meaningful goals.
Chris is also an investor in several other companies working to help other entrepreneurs.
Today, the “shy kid” is an experienced public and motivational speaker and presenter. With an obvious enthusiasm for the subject matter, he has addressed audiences from 6 to 600 on the topics of fitness, goal-setting and leadership, and has been featured in local and national media.