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Chris Goward

Forty Under 40 Winner 2015: founder and CEO, WiderFunnel, Age 38

Chris Goward, the founder and CEO of marketing firm WiderFunnel, summons the examples of Richard Branson and Gandhi to make a point that there’s more than one template when it comes to being a successful leader.

“Every leader has their own style,” said Goward, who is lauded as a pioneer in the way that modern marketing campaigns are assessed.

Goward launched WiderFunnel in 2007 with the idea of improving business for clients through rigorous website testing and a system for improving conversion rates. Before long the company had gained heavy-hitter clients like Tourism British Columbia, Telus (TSX:T) and Vancity. WiderFunnel’s client list also includes the likes of Google (Nasdaq:GOOG), eBay (Nasdaq:EBAY) and Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:EA).

Goward also works as a mentor and coach for other entrepreneurs. He’s a busy guy, which spurs the question: how does a person like him not get spread too thin?

“I think that’s a challenge that every entrepreneur faces,” Goward said. “Especially at a company that’s not [composed of] hundreds of employees. What I’ve done just to be as effective as I can is to focus on the things that I’m best at, and trust the team to do what they’re best at.”

He said he tries to give his staff the freedom to make decisions, but also the responsibility that goes along with those decisions. “I try to give people enough rope so they can do what they want, but not so much that they can hang themselves.”

Goward said his leadership style has evolved over the years. “I guess I would describe it as open, authentic communication, and somewhat participatory. I believe good ideas can come from anywhere in the organization.”

When Goward got started, the ad industry was selling “smoke and mirrors,” he said. “Agencies were trying to win awards for cleverness rather than trying to improve results for businesses.”

Goward’s work through WiderFunnel and other projects has helped to bring testing into the industry to prove whether or not a marketing campaign is working.

“Everything we do for our clients is tested, statistically and significantly, to find out whether these ideas actually improve their business results,” he said. “At the end of the day that’s all that matters.”

Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit