Graham Cooke is the CEO and co-founder of Qubit, a conversion optimization company. Prior to founding Qubit, Graham worked for Google, where he ended up as the global leader in charge of conversion rate optimization. Today he is focused on Qubit’s mission of helping businesses get close to their customers by discovering behavioral insights in visitor data and delivering personalized content to improve the online experience.
Sramana: Graham, let’s start with some of your personal background. Where are you from and where were you born? What circumstances lead up to your entrepreneurial journey?
Graham Cooke: I was born in New Jersey and I lived in the United States until I was seven years old. My father had the opportunity to move our family to London, and we ended up living there for two years. We all loved the UK and we ended up staying. I have had the benefit of having US roots while living in both the UK and the US. I essentially grew up in England. The British people make you feel like you are an American living in England.
I have always had a hunger for running a business. I have always loved technology. I would take apart electronics and DVDs. I asked my parents and grandparents for $5,000 when I was 12 to register a patent for a remote cooling system for cars. I had the idea that when you returned to your car, you could turn on your car about a thousand feet away to cool down your vehicle. I had designed a security system as well. Nobody knew what to do with it so they did not give me the funding.
I went to a secondary school in Wiltshire, which is in the countryside. I went to the university up in Newcastle.
Sramana: What did you do after college?
Graham Cooke: I started my business in college. It was my third business. My first business was a record label which I ran from 16 to 19. When I was in college I designed a music video streaming system. The idea that I won an entrepreneurship prize for was a device that could stream music to from any Wi-Fi hot spot. You could stream music to the device, and this was pre-iPhone. I pitched to companies like Blockbuster and it was gaining a little traction.
Oddly enough I needed a media serving search system. I did a search on Google to see if they had a media search engine. At the bottom of the page it said “Jobs and Google” and I thought that it would be cool to work there. I applied for a job and got called back in three days. I did 15 interviews and got offered a job. I figured I could take a job there and learn a lot. I took that job in 2005, and I worked there until the end of 2009. I worked out of the London office.