Growing up in a small town in India, Ajay Gupta, CEO of Stirista, lacked the luxury of a telephone at home as he lived too far out. As a result, since his childhood, Ajay has always been fascinated by how modern technology can help find information and connect people efficiently. This fascination eventually fueled his dream of developing products that could make communication easier. His first foray into the digital world happened when he was 14. At that time, he started up a pro-wrestling website that updated its users through a newsletter. Quickly it garnered more than 5000 readers, which helped Ajay understand how attentive his audience base was to his emails.
Fast forward … Ajay and his wife founded Stirista in 2010 with a simple mission; to help marketers and brands remove the roadblocks to reaching their audience efficiently, ethically and effectively with the industry’s best data, technology and solutions.
Stirista understands that one size does not fit all, and decayed or outdated data doesn’t work every time. So, it has built a modular and real-time OMNA identity graph from its infancy to arm its clients with marketing data that works.
The organization’s primary goal is to solve complex data and media challenges for mid-tier brands who are looking to use solutions and platforms only available to Fortune 500 companies. Ajay believes these companies can handle things like their Facebook buys independently, but while using their client’s data to place a tailored ad, they need help.
The firm’s three main product areas include; data as a service, email marketing, Adstir, its media buying and activation platform.
Stirista’s client services team, combined with their software-as-a-service platform, can help a brand manage, activate, and execute campaigns from email to display to CCTV. Stirista can seamlessly run omnichannel campaigns across CTV, OTT, Email, etc., with the identity graph.
The Steadfast Leader
Knowing Stirista’s data makes a difference for its clients keeps Ajay moving forward. He feels that the marketers buy and rely on inadequate and insufficient data, so Stirista must help them utilize better data for targeting decisions.
Ajay began his education at St. Lawrence University, where he received his dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Financial Economics and English. However, he wanted to further his education, so he started a Master’s Program in Creative Writing the same year he graduated. After graduating, he decided to work on political campaigns, which eventually showed Ajay how data interacts with messaging.
It was later that year, in 2010, two years after receiving his Master’s Degree from Texas University, Ajay and his wife founded Stirista.
Realigning the Business
When Covid19 hit our beloved planet, one pivot that Ajay put in motion was to redirect Stirista’s marketing focus from brick and mortar retailers to telecommunication and e-commerce companies. This change in direction has helped the organization achieve its revenue goals even after the economic disruption. It took some time for the team to organize themselves out of the office, as it was hard dealing with the pandemic, however, Ajay feels proud that Stirista has not only successfully retained all of its employees during the pandemic but has actually grown its workforce. The organization also grew by more than 2x in revenue and helped everyone adopt the new working culture.
During this time, Ajay and his team at Stirista also launched a Marketing Stir Podcast to replace physical conferences and summits.
Challenges of a Leader
Ajay understands that he has to make tough decisions that everyone might not like or enjoy. Stirista witnessed a considerable increase in employee numbers with its expansion, limiting Ajay from interacting with everyone as he used to when Stirista was a start-up. Although he still focuses on instilling Stirista’s core values into the executive team, allowing them to lead and interact with people the same way Ajay would. He says,
“We all have reasons not to do something challenging. We can rationalize things we don’t succeed at, but to build a high growth mindset, whether as a company or an individual, you have to love what you do and not count the hours that you are working. If you love what you do and excel at what you do, nothing can stop you.”
As the founder and CEO of the firm, Ajay Gupta understands his employees’ role in making Stirista the growing company that it is. From employee team building to training and planning, Stirista offers much more than a job. Whether it is a virtual event, Spurs games or a Chemical Romance concert, Stirista tries to do something that caters to a wide variety of people. As Ajay Gupta believes, happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees. The firm has recently added a full time Event Coordinator, entirely dedicated to improving the employees’ experience.
Ajay Gupta always wanted one-word associations with Stirista to get to a point where the words “Identity” and “CTV” are synonymous with Stirista. The firm seeks to become the spine of every significant ad tech platform and the audience behind every influential brand’s CTV buying decision.
He adds, “We have grown from 2 to over 100 people over the last ten plus years. When you truly believe in your product, your purpose, and your approach and hire people who feel the same way, success comes naturally.”
* Originally published in Tycoon Success, October 2022