Chet Pipkin is very much the guy-next-door. He’s polite and approachable; a family man with home-grown values and a strong work ethic. A humble and unassuming character, it’s almost hard to imagine he’s also responsible for arguably one of the most successful technology companies of our time.
The Founder and CEO of Belkin International, Chet has achieved what to most entrepreneurs remains an elusive buzzword: ubiquity.
Belkin International is a private, LA-based corporation with yearly revenues of more than $1 billion. The company manufactures products that work with consumer electronics, so unless you’re a complete luddite, chances are you and most everyone else in the developed world has used a Belkin device at one time or another.
So how have Chet and Belkin remained largely undetected by the Silicon Beach spotlight? Some would say the best way to hide something is in plain sight. But we would be missing the point entirely by focusing on the how, when the real question we should be asking is…why?
I inquired, “Why do you choose to maintain a notoriously low profile in a day and age when social media has blown open the doors between our personal and professional lives?”
His answer was simple, and a powerful reminder for those of us attempting to balance the two worlds.
He shared, “It has never been about putting myself first or not. It’s about putting [Belkin’s] brands front and center. Outside of my work day, it has always been family first. You would have found me coaching youth soccer teams on the weekends. That’s the right place for me to be. Hiking the local trails around Lake Tahoe? You’ll find me front and center there.”
Chet went to college for history – not business – something he maintains has helped him in his career because history gives us context.
He founded Belkin out of his parents’ garage in the early 1980’s. When asked why LA instead of the more popular choice of Silicon Valley he smiled and replied, “Maybe I have Citibank to thank for it. My wife and I applied for a home loan in NorCal, but were declined.”
Yet another reminder that even some of the most successful tech titans started with humble beginnings.
As we concluded our chat, Chat said something I’ve always felt embodies the ethos of Los Angeles entrepreneurs.
He shared, “Belkin is on a campus. Outside my office window I can see the hangar where Howard Hughes built the Spruce Goose. For me, that kind of energy is still here in the air – knowing that time and time again when talent, a little bit of ambition and opportunity collide, magical things can happen if we’re willing to work hard to make them happen.”
Wise words, indeed. Chet, thanks for allowing us to momentarily put you in the spotlight as Digital Family Reunion’s Outstanding Achievement Award winner.
This Wednesday marks the 7th Annual Digital Family Reunion event at the Skirball Cultural Center. Limited tickets are still available – secure yours NOW and save $20 with the promo code DFR14.
Don’t miss out on your chance to network and celebrate with LA’s most successful technology and media businesses – young and old. Let’s raise a glass to Belkin’s Chet Pipkin, and to each other. See you there!