Like many great things, BrandYourself started out as a problem.
Back in 2008, wondering why he couldn’t get any job interviews, Pete Kistler Googled his own name.
And discovered he shared the name “Pete Kistler” with a convicted felon and sex offender, and the other man came up on Page One of Google’s search results.
He called up reputation management companies (you can learn more about the online reputation management industry here), but they quoted him from $18,000-$32,000, not exactly within a college student’s budget.
Knowing a friend of his, Patrick Ambon, knew about Search Engine Optimization, the techniques of influencing what shows up at the tops of Google search results, Pete turned to Ambon for him. Using his advice, he was able to set up web pages highly optimized for the term “Pete Kistler,” and therefore was able to get Google to rank them higher than the site alerting people about the convicted felon named “Pete Kistler,” pushing that page to the second page of Google where hardly anybody ever looks.
Around 2010, figuring that Kistler was not the only one with such a problem, the two of them and Evan Watson teamed up to found a company devoted to performing reputation management for regular people.
BrandYourself went on Shark Tank seeking to sell off 13.5 percent of the company for $2 million, which values the company at nearly $15 million. He made a good impression, but Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary and Lori Greiner could not accept that valuation, and passed on the opportunity to invest.
However, the host, Robert Herjavec, offered $2 million for 25 percent, the largest offer ever made in the history of the show.
However, Ambon could not accept the valuation Herjavec put on it of $8 million. The company had recently received $3 million from venture capitalists using the $15 million valuation.
Since that appearance, the company’s revenues have nearly doubled and they’ve had to hire an additional 30 employees. It’s also spawned lookalike companies like ReputationDefender to emerge in the market.