For Ajay Pattani, entrepreneurship is akin to personal fashion, not only in the sense that each person is bound to develop their own way of doing things, but also, as Pattani says, “because each year I look back at the year prior and ask myself, ‘what was I thinking?’” As part of Liautad's MBA Executive Talk series, Pattani, founder of Perfect Search and a mentor at 1871, met with a group of Liautaud MBA students on November 12 to discuss his business practices and the professional experience that led him into digital marketing and web design.
“I studied finance & econ at UIUC, and then law at DePaul," said Pattani, opening the discussion. "I mention these schools not because of the education I received at each, but because of the networks at those schools, which account for a lot of my business. Look around the table: stay close to these people. The relationships I still had ten years after I graduated, these made my business successful.”
Pattani got his start in business after law school. His parents were running a gift shop business at area hotels. He decided to toy with their AdWords account, and ended up increasing their sales almost tenfold in a very short time. “It was the first time I felt genuinely good at something. I wanted more.”
He quickly found work at Resolution Media, which at that time had recently been purchased by Omnicom, so Pattani ended up with some big accounts right away - Dell, Armani, Fedex, and others. “The benefits of working with these big accounts were, one, the access to a lot of data, and two, the budgets. I could run tests in a fraction of the time.”
From Resolution, Pattani moved on to FansEdge, where he tackled lackluster search performance head-on, expanding a single 800K-word account into ten accounts covering over 5 million words. “This doubled revenue pacing overnight,” says Pattani. “After this, I ended up with so many clients on the side that the side work overtook the FansEdge work.” So Pattani set up shop as Perfect Search, and began building technology to expand clients' SEO capacities more quickly than competitors.
He offered Liautaud students a wide range of insights and advice, everything from selecting the best platform for marketing - “Google is great for commodity products, unless no one knows they exist” - to company culture - “on Thursdays we come together for drinks and TED talks, and to share ideas; on Fridays, we work from home” - to hiring practices - “David Branson’s principle has been, hire talent and you can figure out anything. I would add to that: I hire talent to get people smarter than me, so that I can keep learning. If I stop learning, the job stops being good for me.”