Follow the Leaders
Meet Jamie Christensen, CEO, WorldView Solutions. He’s a father, a Durham, North Carolina, native, and a classical guitarist. He spun a bit of vinyl and managed a college radio station back in the day. Today, he’s a first-time entrepreneur who uses phrases like “I’m in heaven” and “I’m getting a kick out of it” when asked how business ownership is treating him.
Jamie’s got a soft spot for start-ups, and he believes RVA is on the cusp of greatness. Here’s a little more about this new VACEOs member.
Q: You started WorldView Solutions in 2000. Briefly describe your background in business prior to starting the company.
A. My first internship in college was with The Conservation Fund, out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. That opportunity led me to do my senior thesis on the ways environmental organizations were using spatial technologies and how this was changing their worldview from a qualitative approach to a more quantitative approach to conservation. That experience landed me a job as a GIS specialist with the U.S. Forest Service after graduation. I worked at a 20,0000-acre former Army TNT depot an hour south of Chicago as part of an effort to transform the property into a multi-use tallgrass prairie. A year later, I moved to Newport News and was hired by a company called GeoDecisions. By 2000, I was ready to take the plunge and strike out on my own.
A: I tell them, “Google Maps on steroids.” We build custom software applications that layer proprietary data – for example, a natural gas company’s pipes and wells and other facilities, or a town’s sewers and water mains and electrical lines – onto satellite-generated maps to support more efficient management of that infrastructure and better decision-making.
Q. Thinking about the projects you have waiting for you at the office, describe the task or project that excites you the most and tell us why.
A: One of our growth areas is developing software products – for existing customers, new customers or through investments in Richmond start-ups. WorldView is currently the technology partner with a Richmond start-up called Outdoor Access that is aiming to connect outdoor enthusiasts with private land opportunities in much the same way that Airbnb and Uber operate. I’m excited about using our team’s unique experience and expertise to help grow Richmond’s start-up ecosystem.
Q. What’s the state of Richmond’s start-up ecosystem?
A. I think Richmond is at a tipping point as far as getting on a national stage. If we want to grow the region – and businesses in the region – we need to be known as a place where start-ups come to live, grow and take off. We’re right on the cusp of being one of those places – like Durham.
Richmond needs an identity. We need something we’re known for – not just our beer or restaurant scene. I’m excited because I see the opportunity to make that happen in the next three to five years. There are some really interesting things happening with start-ups in the transportation sector here, and there are several start-up companies that I’m working with that are offering location-based services that I think are exciting.