SEAN RAD, 23, founder and chief executive, Ad.ly Inc., Beverly Hills
Business: Ad publisher for social network sites such as Twitter
Fact: Ad.ly is Rad’s second company; he founded his first one, Orgoo, when he was 17.
For Sean Rad, entrepreneurship runs in the family.
Rad’s parents founded ESI International, a large L.A.-based manufacturer and distributor of consumer electronics. Growing up in a house run by two executives meant Rad was introduced to the world of business and entrepreneurship at a young age.
“I basically grew up in the boardroom,” said Rad, 23. “Business was the topic of many dinner conversations.”
He took those dinner conversations to heart: He launched his first company when he was 17, while attending USC as a freshman. The company, Orgoo, provided one site where users could check all their e-mail accounts and instant-messaging services. Orgoo won plaudits at a prestigious Silicon Valley tech conference and gave Rad his first taste of being an entrepreneur.
A year ago, he left Orgoo (retaining his ownership stake) to launch his current company, Ad.ly. The Beverly Hills startup helps advertisers place ads in online services such as Twitter. Ad.ly has signed on social network stars with thousands of followers, including celebrities such as model Kim Kardashian, musician Soulja Boy and TV personality Audrina Patridge. The company places advertisements on their pages.
Ad.ly charges companies such as Microsoft and Sony a fee to place ads in partner publishers’ Twitter feeds. Eventually, Ad.ly hopes to have its technology adapted for other social media.
Rad relishes the challenge of running a nascent company in a new industry. While he acknowledged that it has required him to sacrifice in other areas of his life – he doesn’t have much time to go out with other people his age – Rad said that he sees his 20s as a perfect time to be doing such a thing.
“The younger you are, the fewer responsibilities you have and the more risks you can take,” he said. “There’s more room to focus just on the company.”
Rad can see himself founding another company eventually. But for now, his focus is entirely on Ad.ly.
Meanwhile, his parents are proud their son has carried on the family legacy.
“They have been very supportive since Day One,” Rad said.
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