All the Right Moves

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Editor’s Note: The online version of this article has been updated to correct an error in the August 2011 print version.

Social media startup lures 22-year-old Ryan Landau home — as CEO.

 

Entrepreneurial wunderkind Ryan Landau, a believer in the old trading floor maxim “buy low, sell high,” considers Detroit the ultimate undervalued stock and, after a year spent in Washington, D.C., has returned home to launch what he hopes is the next big thing.

The 22-year-old West Bloomfield native was hired away from tech behemoth IBM to become the chief executive officer of a new Birmingham-based startup called PowerVoice, a digital marketing company that plans to focus on social media’s burgeoning economic muscle.

“You see so many people running away from the city in search of better opportunities,” he says. “The time seemed right to come back and build.”

PowerVoice is the brainchild of real estate scion David Farbman, founder of Outdoorhub.com, and Aaron Weitzman and David Weinberg, who founded Internet marketing company Cactus Media in 1999.

PowerVoice monetizes users’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs and social networks by sharing promotions and deals across different e-commerce websites.

Landau was recruited to spearhead the venture after he was introduced to Farbman by way of his cousin, venture capitalist Jon Triest and Triest’s friend, ePrize founder Josh Linkner. He met with PowerVoice’s principals during a series of interviews in D.C. and was hired last March.

“Ryan is a young entrepreneur full of energy and can execute,” Weitzman, 37, of Bloomfield Hills, said of the trio’s pick. “We interviewed several individuals before committing to him and he fits the mold perfectly.”

Landau notes, “D.C. is an exciting, vibrant place, and filled with young professionals, but Josh Linkner shared with me his excitement for the city. I felt a calling. I was deeply impressed by the passion they had for the business and for the city of Detroit.”

Landau’s bona fides run fairly deep given his age; he has nearly a decade of business experience under his belt courtesy of a concession catering business, Carnival Extravaganza, that he and older brother, Andrew, started when the two were still in their teens.

The brothers jointly operated the concern throughout high school and college; they subsequently sold the company to a competitor. Andrew, who now works for Google, lives in Chicago.

Growing up in West Bloomfield, Landau attended the Jewish Academy of Metro Detroit there, now called Frankel Jewish Academy. He went on to attend Michigan State University where he studied supply chain management with a focus on entrepreneurship.

Landau adds his determination for an urban renaissance to those countless other Detroiters hoping to be a catalyst for change: “I’m lucky and am enjoying every second of it,” he says.

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