The multi-faceted life of Pricing Engine’s Jeremy Kagan

Member Spotlight is a series that showcases the entrepreneurs behind emerging companies. In this edition, we chatted with Jeremy Kagan, founder and CEO of the ad management tool, Pricing Engine.

Pricing Engine provides all small business owners a simple, unified platform for running their search marketing and digital advertising. After realizing that many were bogged down by their marketing data, Jeremy and his team of Internet marketing experts created a system that buys ads, makes it easier to track ads’ performances, and provides suggestions for improving campaigns. They also feature peer benchmarking and expert system recommendations. With Pricing Engine, any small business owner can build an ad and deploy it to Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and more — all in one place.

A New Yorker born and raised, Jeremy has experience in everything from digital consulting to owning a music production company. He began building his resume as a teenager, working on multiple freelance projects, producing a fanzine, and even running his own delivery service. With experience that pretty much runs the gamut, Jeremy has grown his digital advertising firm with great ease.

The Columbia Business School professor and full-time entrepreneur happily dished on his multi–faceted life with us, sharing sound advice and valuable lessons he’s learned along the way.

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My first job out of college was waiting tables, but things changed when I moved to Washington D.C. I eventually got an internship on Capitol Hill, working with the Education and Labor committee. The job on the Hill led me to become a political operative doing Opposition Research – digging up the dirt on the bad guys for James Carville. I learned that in politics and almost everything else in life, you can learn a lot by following the money.

I also spent almost a decade producing and promoting underground indie rock parties on the Lower East Side. Up until a few years ago, I used to book bands and produce events every Friday night. I worked with nearly 2,500-up and-coming bands and saw acts like MGMT, The Bravery, and Semi-Precious Weapons pass through.

When it comes to leading a company, I believe in an open dialog and in our weekly all-hands meetings, I make sure the whole company knows where we stand at a high level. There are a lot of ups and downs in a startup and I try to keep some of these day-to-day stresses more private, but on the whole, I want the team to be in the loop on what’s happening.

We have done most of our hiring through personal connections and from our intern ranks! Our general rule is that we’re looking for people who want to work here as a career and really buy into our mission of helping small businesses. We want everyone to learn and we encourage our employees to get industry certifications, attend events, and really get involved in the community. Bottom line, we want people we can enjoy working with every day.

There’s somewhat of an anti-MBA meme in the startup world. But I find that there’s a huge demand for smart people who have business skills among growing companies, especially those who’ve just completed a Series A funding round. The two best places for MBAs are somewhat ironically on the far ends of the spectrum: Either founding their own companies or joining growing startups. I try to remind my Columbia Business School students of this, assuring them that there are some great opportunities in the tech and startup worlds.

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Photographs by Lauren Kallen

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