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Member Spotlight - Chris Gasbarro: Events Planning With Ember and Ember Escapes

EO Boston member, Chris Gasbarro

When it comes to events organization, one man has successfully written his name among the most consistent and successful entrepreneurs. With over a decade of experience, Chris Gasbarro runs two event management agencies, organizing over 50 events annually.

Chris is a new member of EO Boston, and in this interview, he shares his entrepreneurial journey so far and what role EO Boston plays in his life and business. Read on.

Tell Us About Your Business

I own and operate two businesses: Ember and Ember Escapes. Ember is an event agency that produces meetings and events worldwide for brands like Titleist, Reebok, and Hanover Insurance. Some of these events are sales meetings and product launches, and others are similar to the President’s Club incentive events.

On the other hand, Ember Escapes is a venue in New Hampshire for small meetings, such as retreats, leadership offsites, and wellness events, although I hope to expand to other locations.

How Did You Become an Entrepreneur?

With a napkin in a bar in San Diego. After producing an event, my future business partners and I were having a post-event cocktail, and we said aloud to ourselves, “We should be bringing this type of gathering to other organizations.” The reason behind it was that we were working with some altruistic organizations that were gathering uniquely and richly.

It’s not about big money but rather the events’ incredible authenticity and outcomes. From there, we saw a market opportunity to create less boring meetings. Some people want to save the environment; I want to live in a world with fewer slides.

What Have Been Your Greatest Challenges and Successes in Business?

COVID checks both boxes. With “gathering” becoming illegal for at least 10-14 months (outside of Florida and Texas) overnight, our biggest competitor became Zoom. We took a risk on a new product offering by partnering with a studio to create a 60-foot LED screen and four cameras for high-end company communication to stream to customers and internal audiences.

We were only off plan 20% during COVID. The idea allowed us to retain most of our team and do some meaningful work that cemented our client relationships.

How Do You Network With Other Entrepreneurs?

I haven’t been networking much in the last few years, which is why I decided to join EO Boston. Beyond the occasional referral, I’m looking forward to EO’s opportunities to build new relationships.

Who Have Been Your Strongest Mentors?

One of my strongest mentors is Grace Andrews, an executive coach I’ve had for 20 years. Also, the gift of my work is I get to attend/produce 50+ events annually with leadership teams for much larger organizations. So, I get to witness some incredible leadership, communication, strategy, and planning. These events have exposed me to significant learnings.

Why EO Boston? What Have You Learned Since Joining EO Boston? What Benefits Have You Received From EO Boston?

When evaluating EO, the first thing I considered was the chapter's health. Compared to other global chapters, I was impressed by the events/programming, podcasts, and other components that showed the chapter was very healthy and engaging.

Regarding benefits, I would say it’s a bit of a tribal feeling. All my initial conversations have helped me connect with leaders with whom I share many business challenges and opportunities. It has been nice to know that and be able to reach out.

What’s on the Horizon for You?

I'm excited about getting placed in a forum in EO Boston soon. I’m also celebrating Ember’s sweet 16 anniversary with the team (shutting down the company for 24 hours and running away with the team).

What’s the Best Piece of Advice You Can Give to Up-And-Coming Entrepreneurs?

I may not need you today, but I may need you tomorrow. The next day, week, month, and year reveal unique challenges and opportunities at every step. Hence, have an open mind in connecting and building relationships, even if they don’t seem to have benefits at the moment.

Anything Else You Want to Cover?

I’m a huge soccer fan. Manchester United and New England Revolution are my clubs, and I live vicariously at times through my twin 16-year-old boys, who are competitive soccer players. So, outside of the business, soccer is a way of decompressing.

When I’m not traveling on events, I have breakfast most Friday mornings at 7:00 am at Mad Martha’s on Plum Island. I have a secret menu item I always order there as it’s “the only decision I don’t have to make during that week.” Breakfast is on me if you make your way up to visit and talk EO!

Connect With Chris and Other EO Boston Entrepreneurs

Chris Gasbarro’s story shows resilience and proof that having the right people around you can be the catalyst to starting the next big thing. EO Boston is home to some of the most interesting business leaders in Boston and provides one of the best ways for entrepreneurs to network and grow.

Joining this entrepreneurs’ network will not only give you access to Chris and the hundreds of other business owners spread across various industries, but it will also give you the opportunity to gather the requisite insight from them to scale your business to the next level. However, being an exclusive organization, EO Boston isn't open to everyone. See if you qualify for an EO Boston membership.

Check out Chris’ recent appearance on EO Boston’s Leadership in Action podcast here!

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