Camber Ridge and CFO of the Year Winner Kevin Cobb … A Proxy for Lean Startup

September 03, 2013 at 11:56 AM

“What originally promised to offer an aggressive financial value for customers, now offers value that goes way beyond the financials.”

As we celebrate Kevin Cobb of Camber Ridge, LLC for winning the Charlotte Business Journal 2013 CFO of the Year Award for private company category, Ventureprise wants to share why Camber Ridge is a company to watch!

Solving a Real Problem

While this may come as a surprise, CEO Jim Cuttino didn’t have the idea to start up Camber Ridge, LLC to design and build a new process for the automotive industry to test tires.  When stakeholders in the Automotive Industry had a problem, they came to Jim.  At the time, he was Director for UNC Charlotte’s Motorsports Research Center, so when these stakeholders needed a better, cheaper way to test tires, they brought their challenge to Jim.

Begin With Hypothesis and Take That to the Customer

Before the Lean Launchpad revolution, which is now being taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Caltech, and adopted by the National Science Foundation, Jim had intuitively tapped into these methods with a lean startup path to market for Camber Ridge.  First, he created a hypothesis for how to solve the automotive industry’s problems before building out the prototype.  Then, he took the hypothesis directly to the customer for constructive feedback and co-design input. 

Design the Minimum Viable Product

When Kevin Cobb joined Camber Ridge as CFO in 2012, Jim had already assembled, tested and refined several product iterations in collaboration with automotive industry stakeholders, acting on their feedback to design the system that would work best to solve their tire testing issues. 

Value to the Customer

As the new CFO, part of Kevin’s work focused on building out customer financial models for the tire testing system.  Camber Ridge originally promised to offer an aggressive financial value proposition (Return on Investment and Internal Rate of Return) for customers. However, Kevin now sees Camber Ridge offering value to their customers that goes way beyond the financials. 

“No one person could imagine what Lotus 1 2 3 would do to revolutionize spreadsheets, and the real value to the user could not have been known or quantified by Lotus or IBM,” says Kevin.  “It took individual users to unleash the power the program provided for them, individually, before the value proposition went to ‘invaluable’ or ‘can’t live without it’.”  Arguable, Lotus 1 2 3 made the IBM PC into a household name. 

What Camber Ridge offers to the automotive industry is both one-of-a-kind and new to the world tire testing system.  This will not only revolutionize the way Camber Ridge customers test tires, but the system generates novel data that customers can’t generate or get anywhere else.

Kevin uses the Lotus 1 2 3 analogy to describe what his modeling predicts with the Camber Ridge system. Because of the unique value in generating novel data, Camber Ridge is banking that customer usage of the system will soar as users discover the hidden power behind the data!  

By Marilyn Carpenter


Marilyn Carpenter serves as Ventureprise’s Director of Venture Development.  With over twenty years of working with and for entrepreneurs in pivotal sales, marketing and business development roles, Marilyn assists clients to accelerate their growth through coaching effective go-to-market and customer acquisition strategies. 

Marilyn is also a published author, blogger and a speaker.  Her topics on Ventureprise Vibe are focused on provocative innovation-driven entrepreneurs and enterprises, Lean Startup methods, and story-telling about clients and people up to big things in the entrepreneurial space.



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