Ajay Kori

Washington, District of Columbia, US

Co-Founder at UrbanStems
Ajay's Skills
Business Development
Product Management
Background

About Ajay

I may or may not owe some of my early success to a dancing hampster. Or perhaps more accurately, I owe it to the girls that didn't pay attention to me in high school, allowing me to instead spend most of my waking hours developing an internet company into one of the most popular destinations in the world for viral entertainment, including dancing cartoon characters. Autodream.com eventually grew to claim millions of users from across the world. Operating with a budget taken from profits, this success was only possible because I led my team to unlock the potential of our users by encouraging them to create content for our site. In doing so, we created one of the first revenue-sharing models on the web and eventually sold the company to a
publicly traded corporation.

I used the proceeds to pay for tuition at Duke, and after graduating, I decided that if I eventually wanted to build an even larger company, it would be useful to be part of one first. I joined a management rotational program at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a fortune 50 company. While I enjoyed my various roles throughout different business groups- I ended up spending almost all of my time doing what I now know I can never get away from- building.

I started one of the first young employee groups in the country and grew it from 10 founding members to over 1000 people worldwide. When nobody else in pharmaceuticals was thinking about social media, I pushed GSK to become one of the first to enter the space by taking a roadshow to every office that would have me. By the end of my tenure, I was lucky enough to become one of the youngest employees ever to be awarded directly by the CEO. But I wanted to get back to building, and I felt that going back for my MBA at HBS was a good opportunity to refocus on building a business that could be just as big.

At HBS I benefited from the startup community- becoming deeply involved with the Rock Center for entrepreneurship, spending the summer learning as part of the Small Business Startup incubator at Microsoft, and eventually winning the HBS Business plan contest.

When it came time to graduate, I turned down every corporate offer I had (even an embarrassingly generous one from our friends at Microsoft) to start my own venture full time. But after graduating- another type of offer I couldn’t refuse presented itself. The founders at Quidsi, after just having been acquired by Amazon for $600m, decided they wanted to grow a base of entrepreneurs from their organization, a kind of Quidsi Mafia. They offered their mentorship and a great challenge- launch Amazon’s first ever pharmacy on Wag.com (our pet site). Since then we’ve put in place the pieces for the pharmacy to launch soon, helped Wag grow significantly faster than the already aggressive plans we initially set, and perhaps most importantly; I was fortunate to learn from two people who are, in my opinion, true visionaries. I believe I'm in a good position to build something great now, and this time I may not even need the dancing cartoon characters.

Work Experience

Co-founder & Summer Associate

UrbanStems

September 2013 - December 2016