Jeff serves as CEO of PowerInbox, an innovative technology company helping companies monetize their email newsletters through dynamic content. Before joining PowerInbox, Jeff served as president and CEO at Oversee.net, managing worldwide operations and building Oversee’s owned and operated portfolio of domain names into one of the world’s largest, establishing the company as the leader in Internet real estate. Under his leadership, the company diversified into lead generation, building several high growth and high margin businesses. Before that, Kupietzky served in leadership positions with X1 Technologies, Digital Insight (Intuit), Siebel Systems (Oracle), and Loudcloud/Opsware (Hewlett-Packard). Jeff began his career as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., developing business strategies for software, insurance, and banking clients. A frequent speaker at Digital Media conferences, he has also been featured on CNN, CNBC, and in many news and business magazines. Jeff earned an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School and graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A. in Economics from Columbia University.
How did the concept for PowerInbox come about?
My prior company monetized domain names and we had a small unit providing a shopping comparison experience for travel. Although it was a small site, we noticed that over 80% of the value was coming from its email list, which kept growing and becoming more profitable. I recognized then that there would be an opportunity to invest in the platform of email and make it even more productive for publishers. When the founders at PowerInbox invited me to come onboard, it was clear that we shared that same vision, so it was a natural fit.
How was the first year in business?
Very challenging. Like many startups, we actually tried several product iterations in the first few years trying to find that perfect fit for our customers. That ultimately led to the current solution that has proven to be successful.
What was your marketing strategy?
Our philosophy was, and still is, that if you build the best product, it will essentially sell itself. Rather than investing a ton of money in marketing and sales, we focus on product development, on R&D, and rely heavily on word of mouth. Our customers are the best evangelists for our product because it works to deliver the results they need.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Very quickly. Thanks to our team’s relentless dedication to customer service and product innovation, the company has grown over 7,500% over the last three years. And in the past year alone, our customer roster has grown by over 50%. On the product side, we’re delivering millions of pieces of live content, in real time, to millions of subscribers at thousands of publications.
How do you define success?
Our success is defined by our customers’ success. We achieve our goals by providing a service that is valued by our partners and that generates a positive outcome for all our stakeholders—customers, employees, partners and investors.
What is the key to success?
Relentlessness in the pursuit of success. I don’t give up. I keep working, studying, and brainstorming how to solve a problem until I have the answer. And the entire team here operates in essentially the same way.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
That success may take longer than you expect, so don’t give up. Today, we see so many so-called “overnight successes” in the media—those seemingly come-from-nowhere, suddenly-a-unicorn kind of startups. The truth is it takes a lot of work, and people often underestimate just how long it will take, so they give up too soon. Who knows how many great companies we may never know about because they gave up too soon?
What are some quotes that you live by?
Yogi Berra quotes are the best. One of my favorites is: “If you find a fork in the road, take it!” He meant it literally, giving directions to his house, but that’s a powerful notion if you think about it. When you need to make a decision, the worst thing you can do is let it paralyze you into taking no action. Pick a route and go.
What are some of your favorite books?
I love history books, especially biographies.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
It was a day that I didn’t win a deal with a big partner. I’d flown out to see them and a lot was riding on their positive response. When I did not get the deal, it forced us to re-consider those efforts and ultimately find a new path.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
The belief that success will come in the long term. Just stick with it.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Besides stick with it and don’t give up? Seek out mentors and others to give you feedback, and don’t give up if you don’t have overnight success. Also, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the ride!
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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