Arash Adnani

Forty Under 40 winner 2014:  Owner, co-founder, Blender Media, Age 34

The owner and co-founder of Blender Media likes to use sports analogies when discussing his business. It makes sense, because Arash Adnani loves sports. Adnani became the sole owner of Blender Media around 2004. The investor marketing company, which launched in 2001, now works with 500 private and publicly traded companies around the world to provide their web strategy, design, development and campaign management.

Within a few years of his purchase of the business, Blender Media became “a classic Rocky Balboa story,” Adnani said. “Rocky’s strategy in all those fights was just to stay up and make it through 12 rounds.”

He recalled the September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse and the recession that followed as Blender Media’s turning point. “It was probably one of the most devastating summers or market crashes in history. We were able to weather that storm at a time when our clients were filing for bankruptcy and having to start over.”

They survived by focusing their energy on their remaining clients and set themselves apart by developing expertise building and managing “higher-end” websites that provided information portals between investors and large companies.

“Those websites are an essential and crucial part of what that company does from a communications standpoint,” he said, stressing that stakeholders rely on that information to make smart decisions about their money and livelihoods. “To know that that is something we’ve created and helped craft, it’s such an important thing.”

Adnani admits that he can be an over-thinker. He said his move to take over the company in 2004 was the hardest step. “I don’t think it’s interesting or exciting to come into a marketplace and offer something that is similar to what’s already out there,” he said.

Adnani now leads a team of 20 staff, which he likens to a football team. “Football is probably the only true team sport,” he said. “For a play to be executed, you need every player to execute their role in that play perfectly in order to get the job done.”

Blender Media works the same way, he said. “For us to succeed, every single person has to do their job.”