A Chat With October’s Profile, Peter Cobb, co-founder/senior vice president, eBags
CS: Have you given any thought to what you would have done for a career if you hadn’t gotten involved in the catalog/multichannel business?
PC: At the time, I was very happy as a classic brand manager in consumer product goods. Everything from the golf world to sports products to Samsonite, and that was really the path that I was on. I had had 20 years of … I went to Kellogg Northwestern, and was trained in kind of classic brand marketing. There’s plenty of jobs there and it’s really kind of a nice path to be head of marketing at various consumer products goods companies.
But I had a life-threatening illness, cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, in 1997. That’s when for me — I was 37 and a 25 percent chance of living three years — I really said if I make it beyond this, I’m going to take more chances and I’m going to do something different and I’m going to kind of make a lasting mark because I realized you only have one go at this. Slugging it out in a 10,000-person company where you’re kind of one of many was a comfortable life, but I realized I wanted to do something that was different, something that was more challenging and rewarding.
As I was starting this out my wife said, “What if this fails?” I all of sudden was able to say, “If it fails, it fails, and I get a job back in consumer product marketing. So we probably lost six months in our house.” By the way, it was like, “What do you mean our house!” I was like, “Well, I didn’t tell you the office lease is tied to my house. But we can get another house. It may take a little while, but …” Those are the types of things I think everybody’s got to look at their own personal situation, and some people are a little more risk averse and some people are kind of taking some calculated risks. I think now I enjoy those situations where your back’s against the wall and you really have to think creatively. I kind of think that’s what gets me going everyday.