John Ramey is the founder and CEO of isocket, a company that offers premium ad inventory solutions. Prior to founding isocket, he was one of the founders of Maven Ventures, which offered direct marketing software for real estate investment. He founded his first company, Lythargic Media, during high school. He studied business economics at Indiana University.
Sramana: John, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where were you born and raised?
John Ramey: I was born in Tampa, Florida, and spent the first 12 years of my life there before moving to a suburb of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I was fortunate to live in areas that had unique pilot programs in their school systems. Starting in elementary school, I was in different classes that most public schools offered. I was able to spend more time learning about math and computer science. The high school I went to offered computer science courses, which was unusual in 2000 to 2004. I took full-time courses on C and C++ along with Basic, PHP, and Java. Their goal was that students graduate from high school with the equivalent of a BS in computer science.
Sramana: What did you do after you graduated from high school?
John Ramey: I actually started my first business while I was in high school. I started a consultancy. I had been very interested in computers from a young age and had started to program even before those classes I took in high school. Around 2000, a lot of small and medium businesses wanted to get on the Internet, so they approached me to build their websites.
My business scaled from there. I brought on a couple of my friends to act as a consultancy group. SMBs would hire us, and we would do everything from building brochures, online marketing, and websites. Our work was primarily local. I kept that business going until the end of high school. When high school ended I went to college, and that business ended.
Sramana: Where did you go to college?
John Ramey: I went to school at Indiana University. I made the choice to study something other than computer science, so I studied business economics. I went to Indiana for their entrepreneurship and business economic programs and attended from 2004 to 2008.
Sramana: Did you finish college, or were you hit by the entrepreneurial bug while you were in college?
John Ramey: I was hit again but halfway through my freshman year when I got bored. I met a friend at college who was also very entrepreneurial, and we decided to start a company in early 2005. We spun up a business that developed marketing programs for real estate. We made a process and marketing system for people who were doing foreclosures and flipping properties. We ran that business during college and it went well. We turned a profit, and it was toward the end of that business that I realized how difficult it was to find and buy advertising.