VentureOut – Highlighting LGBT leaders in business.
Powered by StartOut. Written by David Duran & Adam Sandel.
Born and raised in Manhattan surrounded by culture and diversity, Jeff Ragovin was never one to shy away from being who he was. His dream as a young man of one day being a meteorologist quickly changed when the Internet craze dramatically changed his focus.
Over the past 15 years, he worked at a number of different startups. In the late ‘90s he worked for an email marketing company that exposed him to the world of digital marketing. From there, he moved into the realm of search marketing and that’s when things really began to take shape.
“In 2007, Facebook launched its platform beyond students and opened its doors to everyone,” says Ragovin. “That’s when I met [the married team of entrepreneurs] Mike and Kass Lazerow, and the idea for Buddy Media began.”
Buddy Media is a software delivery method, based on a software as a service (“Saas”) model, that provides web-based access to software and its functions. It allows organizationsto access business functionality at a lower cost than paying for licensed applications, since SaaS pricing is based on a monthly fee. Because the software is hosted remotely,users also don’t need to invest in additional hardware.
Ragovin’s focus at the time was on building relationships, and making sure that Buddy Media got into the hands of as many brands as possible. “We weren’t just creating a revolutionary product, we were creating a new industry sector,” he says. “We became family and most importantly, our passion lit up like fireworks.”
“In order to succeed you need to have passion, you need to have drive, and you need to constantly keep your eyes open for all opportunities,” he says. “Most importantly, you need to have an amazing team that is truly aligned and works well together.”
Ragovin married his “best friend and partner” Kurt Giehl, an Executive Director at JP Morgan, in 2011. “Kurt has been an instrumental part of my success through the years, providing support and guidance. My advice to all business owners is to have as much communication with your partner as possible, since a startup is very taxing on your personal life.”
Ragovin is very active in the LGBT community, where he’s formed many business relationships that have helped him further his success.
“Today we live in a world where corporations are standing up for gay rights and discrimination is not acceptable. In the professional world, it’s important to chose a company that publically supports your views, and has internal groups and organizations that can provide support,” he says.
“We still live in a world of inequality, and it’s important for all of us in the business world to speak out and stand up, so that everyone is treated fairly. It’s important for me as a business leader to be a role model and to not sit on the sidelines.”
Buddy Media was eventually acquired by industry giant Salesforce. Ragovin is now the Chief Strategic Officer of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, where he manages Buddy Media’s social marketing solutions.
Through his involvement with StartOut, Ragovin has served as an inspiration to other entrepreneurs who are either just beginning, or are unsure of how to take the next steps, especially when considering an acquisition.