On this episode of the Reboot Chronicles, I invited Ian Ginsberg, third-generation President of C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, to join me for an action-packed episode about blending past, present and future consumer experiences.

Founded in 1838 by Dr. Galen Hunter, Bigelow is the oldest apothecary in the United States, with some amazing history. Ian and his ancestors have stayed true to the company’s traditions of focusing on personalized products, services and formulas. Two centuries later, a Bigelow experience seems to transport us back in time and into the future simultaneously. Today, the company has been rebooted itself from the historical landmark in NYC into a vast global platform with over 10,000 personal care products, gaining the attention of multi-generational e-commerce shoppers.

An Essential-Connected Business

Unlike most companies that were founded after WWII, Bigelow has undergone some extreme times like two world wars, the Great Depression, 9-11 and COVID-19. Deemed essential during the 2020 lock-down, they reacted quickly, never closed and continued prioritizing emotional connections with wary shoppers—something they are good at in good times and bad.


Not Your Father’s Store

Ian continues to expanded the brand, including a rebooted retail business which still has the original functioning pharmacy, an expansive commerce site, and Bigelow Trading, which imports and distributes several brands.  Having been on a few large family-enterprise boards myself, I like how Ian, who runs one of the oldest US family companies himself, seeks out and represents other family brands and products, who also have multi-generational heritage stories.

Focus and Passion

Ian provides some advice to aspiring entrepreneurs to set your sights on something you love. Many of us have set out to disrupt markets mostly for profit reasons, which can limit results. He prefers to focus on creating something you are very passionate or even obsessed about. Starting a business should be for the right reasons first and often things will fall into place financially. It is important not to get sidetracked, so listen in here, or where ever you listen to podcasts, to find out what type of sign you should hang up in your office to remind you of just that.


About The Reboot Chronicles Podcast: Hosted by Dean DeBiase, The Reboot Chronicles is a popular no-holds-barred podcast on iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube that has been bringing together CEOs, entrepreneurs, authors, and global leaders, for over a decade, to discuss how organizations are rebooting their leadership-competitiveness of everything from growth, innovation, and technology to talent, culture, and governance. Tune in wherever you listen to podcasts or at https://www.revieve.com/rebootchronicles

Named a Growth Guru" by Inc. Magazine, Dean DeBiase is a Faculty Member at Kellogg School of Management and Silicon Valley serial CEO, where he has served in chief executive and chairman roles of more than a dozen emerging growth companies, CEO of Fortune 500 subsidiaries, and a director on public, private, family-enterprise, CVC, PE and VC boards. He is a Technology Fellow at Northwestern University, a Board Leadership Fellow at The National Association of Corporate Directors, and an Advisor to the National Science Foundation. A Forbes Contributor and co-author of the best-selling book The Big Moo, Dean, is working on his next book, Dancing with Startups. Connect with Dean here: www.linkedin.com/in/FollowDean

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