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From Student to Successful Business Owner: Chris Tinsley Shares His Passion for Creative Web Design and Development

BY ALYSON VANCLEAVE, SCHOOL OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION INTERN

Chris Tinsley at PLU’s Morken Center for Learning and Technology.


Chris Tinsley ’06 has a resume comparable to that of a veteran in his field: He is a business owner; a member of the Pacific Lutheran University School of Business Executive Advisory Board; and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with experience working at Russell Investments, Fulcrum Capital and the McCutchen Group.

In a short time, Tinsley took the finance field by storm and found huge success in doing so. After getting his BBA from PLU and working in finance and investments for eight years, Tinsley, who described himself as someone who is, “highly motivated by challenge and curiosity,” decided to take on the challenge of starting his own business.

Growing up, Tinsley had an interest in computer programming. Inspired by a cousin who worked at Microsoft, Tinsley started developing computer software in the early 1990s. From there, he cultivated a passion for innovation and creativity in web design and development.

After speaking with several flourishing (and some unsuccessful) local business owners, Tinsley and Jared Potter, Tinsley’s neighbor and former Microsoft employee, established Sixth Ave Studios. Sixth Ave Studios is a digital design and development shop focused on creating the best mobile, desktop, touch and web software through a broad set of ultra-complex computer skills.

“We really hit the ground running, signing our first three contracts with Fortune 500 companies,” Tinsley said. He said an average day runs around 12-16 hours.

“I have learned a lot,” Tinsley said. “Managing and owning a company is a ton of work.”

Though it is clear by his impressive work history that Tinsley has a knack for finance, he didn’t always want to pursue a career in business. After establishing himself as a math and science enthusiast in high school, Tinsley’s intended to major in engineering. But after a single semester studying biological resource engineering at Montana State University, Tinsley realized the static nature of engineering wasn’t exciting enough for his taste.

In the fall of 2004, Tinsley came to PLU after his grandfather suggested he try his hand at finance.

“I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a stock and a bond,” Tinsley said, regarding his initial knowledge of the field.

Tinsley credits part of his success to the opportunities he was offered as a student at PLU and the incredible staff and alumni who supported him at every step of his education and career.

In fact, Tinsley landed his first job out of college as an investment analyst at Threshold Group through the PLU alumni network. He was connected with Lisa Ottoson, a member of the School of Business Executive Advisory Board, who made some introductions and helped Tinsley land the job.

“I can trace all of my success back to staff and alumni from PLU,” Tinsley said. “They have been completely invaluable to me over the years. At every turn they have been incredibly supportive.”

Tinsley recommended that students pursuing a career in business relentlessly pursue knowledge in every aspect of life.

“Learning shouldn’t be confined to a classroom. It’s important to constantly seek out new information,” Tinsley said. “To follow your curiosity and pursue the things you are passionate about.”

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Learning shouldn’t be confined to a classroom. It’s important to constantly seek out new information … to follow your curiosity and pursue the things you are passionate about.

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