Chris Howard, Ph.D

My name is Chris Howard

I am a founder of companies & maker of things

Born in Reading, England in the early 80’s, I swiftly grew a passion for breaking things (especially the rules) and putting them back together again. This encouraged me to become a highly over-active & under-achieving school kid (with grades to match). To this day I believe I still hold the record for the number of lunchtime & after-school detentions at Theale Green School in one year without being expelled. Sorry, Mr Gittins.

But my nature of rebellion and curiosity helped me build a passion for re-imagining how things work.

By my early 20’s, I became a modestly well known singer/songwriter around London with a band called ‘Optimists’. By my mid 20’s my passion for food saw me briefly appear as a competitor on Gordon Ramsay’s first season of the “F-word”. And by my late 20’s my need to continually break things and put them back together led me to graduate with a Ph.D in Computational Physics & Psychology from Reading & Warwick Universities. This swiftly led to becoming a lecturer in the “Physics of Medicine” at Harvard University, and then welcomed into the global crucible of hackers and rule-breakers – MIT – as a Research Affiliate.

Optimists - London, 2005

It was at MIT I found my ‘people’. 

Fellow (ethical) rule-breakers are continually encouraged by their peers to better themselves and the world around them. They are taught that the only guaranteed way to not improve something is to do nothing about improving it. MIT never selects its students, post-graduates, or staff based on academic performance alone. As such, MIT is an incredibly diverse (culturally, economically, and lifestyle) thought provoking institution that values curiosity and tenacity far beyond any ‘classic’ criteria of the Ivy League.

It was at MIT in 2009 where I was provoked into bettering the world using the force of startups and entrepreneurship.

Much since then has been a blur.

With John Landry - Founder & CTO of Lotus Technologies, 2011

I have had the delight to be a part of the founding team of over 7 companies and had the pleasure to lead 3 of them. All have been venture-backed and all but one have either been successfully acquired or continue to go strong. I humbly represent some of the world’s most influential organizations in entrepreneurship for the purpose of challenging common beliefs with culture and the arts. I work closely with cultural icons from the world of food & music to help their cultural movements come to life through the power of startups. I infrequently teach my skills to the underdogs of society – empowering those with new and novel ideas & backgrounds to benefit from what ‘being a founder’ can do for their careers. For my sins, I sometimes charge hideous amounts of money to large corporations for my help in bringing their world closer to the world of startups, founders, and entrepreneurship.

The Royal McQ - American BBQ Team @ River Cottage HQ

But my life is far more enriched than simply founding companies and helping others do so. I have a wonderful wife who has helped me bring a new tiny human into the world. I regularly host rather lavish and completely over-the-top supper clubs for friends, family, and the local community of Earlsfield in London. I am also the co-founder of a (rather rubbish) American BBQ team. And I am regularly seen embarrassing myself at open-mic nights doing various covers of 90’s classics many wish to forget!

Although I often decline the invitation to be a ‘gun for hire’ – I will always enjoy a coffee & conversation in the event I can’t help myself but get involved in your idea/project/startup/company. Feel free to contact me directly on chris+web@iamanoptimist.com

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