Chip Griffin, SPA/BA ’94, cofounder and CEO of Custom Scoop online news clipping service, made a $100,000 gift to create an endowed scholarship supporting SPA students from New England states. Griffin, a native of New Hampshire, joined the SPA Dean’s Advisory Council in spring 2007.
“This gift is especially gratifying in that Chip is one of the youngest SPA alumni to make such a substantial contribution to our endowment,” says William LeoGrande, SPA dean. “His support of student scholarships, along with his active participation on the SPA Advisory Council, has made a profound impact here at SPA.”
Founded in 2000, Griffin’s Concord, N.H.-based company provides organizations nationwide with media monitoring analysis—24 hours a day, 7 days a week—using custom-built state-of-the-art technology, delivered directly to their e-mail inboxes.
Why did you decide to direct your gift toward an endowed scholarship program?
I was fortunate enough to attend AU on a full academic scholarship. Through a mixture of hard work and luck, I have built several successful businesses and wanted to begin giving back to the university, specifically by helping ensure that other students have the scholarship opportunities that I had.
What did you find most valuable about your AU education?
My decision to go to AU was based largely on the emphasis placed on internships and practical learning. AU facilitated my efforts to gain an internship and subsequently a full-time job on Capitol Hill while still in school. This early start to my career and the need to juggle full-time schooling and working helped prepare me for the hard work and balance needed in entrepreneurship.
After AU you embarked on a career on Capitol Hill. Tell us about your experiences.
I worked for Rep. Bill Zeliff (R-NH) from 1991 to 1994, first as an intern and then as a Legislative Projects Assistant. After graduation, I went to work for a PR firm in Alexandria called National Grassroots and Communications (NGRC) until the GOP won the 1994 elections. I then went to the Heritage Foundation and subsequently became the deputy director of Heritage’s Government Integrity Project.
After Heritage, I returned to Capitol Hill where I was the chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform. It was there that I oversaw several investigations, including one of the White House Database that was tied to the “infamous” coffees and Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers.
After I burned out on the investigation front, I became president and CEO of Townhall.com and eventually decided to return to
where I opened a public affairs consulting firm called Griffin Strategy Group in early 1999. CustomScoop was founded in 2000, and I have gone on to create about a half dozen companies since then.
Tell us about your newest venture, Cork & Knife
Cork & Knife is the first of several multimedia magazines that will be part of a new company I formed called Eaglon. My passion for fine food and drink has grown over the years, largely as a result of my frequent travels. Cork & Knife was born out of my passion for fine dining as well as my friendships in the restaurant industry. The magazine will not focus on reviews or recipes, but rather will try to feature the people—the chefs, sommeliers, bartenders, servers, and others—that make a real difference in your dining experience.
What do you most enjoy about entrepreneurship and starting up new ventures?
I love creating something out of nothing and learning something while doing it. Artists may begin with a blank canvas; I start with company formation documents. Over the past eight years, I have started more than a half dozen different companies, and each one has taught me something meaningful.
Ultimately, though, I’m always looking for a new challenge, and I find these challenges to be in creating new businesses. I thrive on the early days of a company when the rules are looser, the risks are greater, and the rewards more tangible. Like a hen with her hatchlings, I try to nurture each venture as much as possible before turning it over to others to make the trains run on time and manage the business in a more formal way.