Bruce Christensen 24 September 2009
A Technical Outlier, just trying to fit in.
Bruce Christensen spends his days managing equipment manufacturing in McMinnville and his nights dreaming up internet parties for Facebook.
Bruce is an ordinary guy, with an extraordinary family who use parties to stay connected and support each other with gifts. This passion for parties lead the Christensen family to develop, test and launch the online white elephant gift exchange, called AlbinoPhant.
Bruce and his wife Sarah, a professional recreationalist, lead a team of developers from Portland to Silicon Valley to Pakistan who are building a network of online party activities that support life-events, like birthdays, weddings, births and holidays.
Bruce is a bit old-school when it comes to social media and feels that any application should find something of value to sell and then provide an entertaining way to share what is purchased. Bruce’s PartyWeDo network monetizes each party activity through gift sales and fun.
Bruce’s family includes five grown children and their spouses, who are scattered all across the US; along with 7 grand children.
What are you up to?
Besides the AlbinoPhant launch and developing the other PartyWeDo applications, I spend my time doing home improvements with Sarah, working on my custom cars and finding excuses to travel to see our grandchildren.
I spend most of the weekdays at the plant, encouraging our manufacturing employees to stay motivated even though construction equipment is not selling much in this economy.
I am active in our church, directing our young men programs, including the Scouting, Varsity and Venturing groups.
What are you into?
I love to think creatively and solve problems, so I have always leaned entrepreneurial. In addition to the launch of the party network, I am also assisting my oldest daughter to build her photography business. My youngest son is starting a heating and air conditioning business with my support. My youngest daughter has a fashion accessory business in New Hampshire, which she is doing all on her own (she was always independent!)
What do you like most about Portland?
The business pace is perfect; fast but not light-speed. The living is family-friendly for when the grand kids come to visit. There is plenty of helpful business support for the entrepreneurs in the crowd, and the weather is cooperative; most of the time.
How would you monetize a social network so that it can be sustainable?
We rely too much on advertisers to pay our way in this space. Instead, we should find items that people are willing to purchase, and then make a sale for a profit or a commission. There are so many great tools on the web that are valuable, and yet we are afraid to ask for a payment for many of them. The systems that will sustain must find things to sell, and then use the great tools of the net to enhance the buying experience. With sustainable revenues from selling something in hand, then the advertising revenues become the icing on the cake.
You are 55, why start now in the internet industry?
Last year I took a cement mixing trailer to BlogWorld in Vegas as a publicity stunt. It got some great exposure, so the promotion worked. However, I came away from the experience with such a respect and interest in social media and its people that I became hooked.
We had played our family gift exchange on the internet for the past 3-years, so I decided that I would join the social networking scene, and develop this product for others to enjoy on Facebook. There have been so many helpful people along the way that I can’t help but stay involved and give back, as I can. I am really a technical Outlier. But I am learning and I am getting up to speed in this space. I feel younger when my mind is wrapped around a good challenge.