Ric EliasChief Executive Officer
Ric Elias is the CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures. Under his leadership, Red Ventures has gone from a basement start-up to a nationally recognized marketing and sales powerhouse for some of the largest brands across North America.
Ric started his career at General Electric Co. and was a graduate of GE's Financial Management program. But his parents might argue that his career began at age 10, when they caught him selling avocados on the side of the road in his native Puerto Rico (he bought them for a nickel, and sold them for 50 cents apiece).
Ric's path toward entrepreneurship continued when he chose the academic rigor of Boston College. When he arrived in Boston - barely speaking English - he quickly learned to adapt, switching his major to Accounting so he could focus on numbers while his language skills improved. He would excel, going on to receive his MBA from Harvard Business School, and working at CUC International (formerly Cendant), where he would meet Red Ventures co-founder Dan Feldstein.
In 2000, Red Ventures was barely surviving the dot-com bubble burst. Ric knew things had to change in order for the business to succeed. He and Feldstein realized they wanted to have more control over their destiny than they did providing services for clients. So they refocused the business model once again - and created the new Red Ventures. By 2007, the company was ranked 4th on the Inc. 500 list. In 2010, Red Ventures grew by 62%, was ranked #1 among large companies on Charlotte's Best Places to Work list, and global growth equity firm General Atlantic LLC (“GA”) announced a minority investment in the company.
Now Red Ventures employs more than 1,200 people and is poised to grow another 50% this year. But Ric's not resting comfortably. A perpetual believer in reinvention, he says that in order for Red Ventures to evolve, the leadership team must evolve, too. Armed with his favorite motto, "What got us here won't get us there," Ric's determination to challenge and inspire his employees is palpable. And with Ric's direction, Red Ventures now drives millions of dollars in sales for 14 industry-leading brand partners – each business a testament to the hyper-adaptability of Ric and his team.
Ric’s efforts have been recognized throughout the business community and in 2011 he was named Ernst &Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the Carolinas. His inspirational views on both business and family have been featured on CNN, TED Talks and in numerous print and TV outlets. And this fall, Ric will be a keynote speaker at the prestigious Inc. 500 Conference in D.C.
Never one to rest, Ric is continuously reinventing his vision for his company as new brand partners, technology and marketing practices emerge.“We fail constantly," he says. "But we fail fast and hard. And we learn even faster.” Ric’s unorthodox leadership style is noteworthy – he’s not a believer organizational structure, budgets or the final score. He’s a believer in the process – in taking the right steps to get there – and says, “when you do things the right way, the results will end up where they should.”
Ric in the News:
The Charlotte Observer, June 2011 - "His quiet impact on progressive work ideas" Since Elias launched the company in 2000 along with Dan Feldstein (the two worked together at direct marketing giant Cendant), he's been on a crusade to liberate employees from clock-punching bureaucracies and an ethos of fear and caution into an atmosphere of risk-taking innovation. You might say he is trying to infuse a bit of Silicon Valley into the Queen City.
CNN, May 2011 - "What I thought when my plane crashed" As I sat in the first row of Flight 1549, just moments before it crashed in the Hudson River that day in January 2009, the things that had once seemed so important no longer mattered. I didn't have to talk to the flight attendant anymore. I could see a very distinct look in her eyes. It was the look of terror. And I was going to die. It was a true miracle that I didn't die that day. It was also an experience that changed me forever.