Mac Clemmens

Mac Clemmens: Our No. 1 “40 Under 40″

The Sacramento Business Journal recently named Mac Clemmens MBA 07 one of “40 Under 40” superachievers in the Capital Region. Clemmens is founder and CEO of Digital Deployment, which he has grown into a multimillion-dollar company.

In recent years, Digital Deployment has helped clients as diverse as Google—which hired them to build a website for its Smithsonian exhibit—the California Bankers Association, CalSTRS, the United Way and the Graduate School of Management (GSM) create “a different type of website.” Their latest cool project: a new site for Education Writers of America, funded by the Gates Foundation through a special pilot program.

Clemmens was born and raised in Sacramento. He kickstarted his career when he was just 20, his need to meet tuition fortuitously leading to the founding of Digital Deployment. “It was hard to balance work and my studies,” Clemmens remembers. But he pushed himself academically and graduated from CSU Monterey with an undergraduate degree in computer science. He returned to his hometown and enrolled at UC Davis, completing his MBA in 18 months. “After that, I hit the ground running and recruited other great leaders to join me.”

Within a year Digital Deployment won contracts to redesign websites for WEAVE Inc., a local provider of services to people who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation in Los Angeles.

“We found our niche empowering communication and connecting communities,” Clemmens said. “We loved what we did. We won awards, and received widespread acclamation from our clients. Instead of just building them a website, we empowered them to tell their story using our platform, organize their own content and—in the words of Julie Bornhoeft, WEAVE’s development director—‘change everything about the way we communicate’.”

What are you passionate about in your work?

Although I’m fascinated by technology, I’m most passionate about leadership, and in particular how leaders can support everyone on their team to be whole, balanced and complete. I stand for each employee to lead a powerful life.

For example, I tell my employees who have kids, “Being a parent is your #1 priority. Period. Your second priority, hopefully, is working here. Take the time you need. Go home early to spend time with them. Make hours that make sense to you. You know what has to be done.” If they’re at work, but worrying about their families, they won’t be at their best anyway. This is why I am so firm about offering health benefits, HSAs, counseling/coaching and other benefits at no cost. I encourage creating space for spouses/significant others, international travel and pursuing passions. We must boldly stand for every employee to have an extraordinary life if we are to build an extraordinary company.

Where is your career headed?

I’ve found that I absolutely love what I do and that the time is now to focus my fire on my business. I’ve created the possibility of expanding to a $100M+ company in the next four years and building the world’s best web content management system and deployment experience. We’re already well on our way.

But Digital Deployment isn’t my only company. I also am a partner at GrogTag, an online labels and more store for home brewers. We offer some very cool, customizable labels, signs, coasters, and more. Business quadrupled this fiscal year, and we’re on track to become a multimillion-dollar company next year if trends continue.

How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?

Getting an MBA moved me “out of the cubicle” and provided a foundation that helped me beyond what I learned in my computer science degree. At first it didn’t seem to help much because all my problems were practical—how to use QuickBooks, file business paperwork, hire an accountant, etc.—but as the business has grown and I’m evaluating financial decisions and financing options, leveraging my network, and especially when pitching to business executives, I have a huge advantage over the pre-MBA Mac.

What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?

Being recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Sacramento by the Sacramento Business Journal. I’m clear that every member of the Digital Deployment team is extraordinary, and that’s my greatest achievement. When others win, I win.

Your favorite GSM memory?

Arriving 15 minutes late to one of my first classes (while wearing pajamas) and getting reprimanded by the professor, who told me, “This isn’t undergrad.”

Anything else?

I enjoy being involved in my community. About two years ago I was selected for the Genius Project launched by the Merced County Office of Education. The program connects afterschool students in 39 schools with unusual “geniuses” from around the country. View  video »

I have given back by helping bring Reason to Party to Sacramento. It’s an innovative 501(c)3 nonprofit that raised money for charities by throwing fun and awesome parties! I served as co-founder and as board chairman in 2012 and directed its expansion. Reason to Party has raised more than $100,000 for local charities since its inception.

I also brought George Takei and the producers of Allegiance to Sacramento. Allegiance is the first Broadway musical to explore the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. I got them to come to Sacramento instead of San Francisco, helping put us on the map. The two events attracted more than 500 people to the California Museum and raised over $25,000 for the cause to ensure the story is never forgotten. More »

How do you support and participate in the GSM now?

I meet with Mary Maffly [the GSM’s director of development and alumni relations] and do what she tells me to do. I also follow all [executive director, marketing and communications] Tim Akin’s advice!

Besides that, I keep in touch with my classmates—and hire them when possible. I attend some of the networking functions. (My favorite is Pier-to-Peer, although I haven’t been able to go in recent years). I hope to also help judge a Big Bang! Business Competition.