Marketing graduate creates small business in San Marcos

Trends Reporter

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Ali Ijaz, graduate student, is the founder and president of Row, an online marketing company that aims to connect its clients with new customers.

Many students spend their time in college working toward a future career and honing skills in a particular interest. For graduate student Ali Ijaz, lessons learned in class were put to immediate use upon founding Row, a marketing company for small and medium-sized businesses based in San Marcos.  

“When I began at Texas State, I started as a finance major and then went into marketing.  I’ve been doing stuff like this for awhile,” Ijaz said.

Ijaz is now working on obtaining his Master of Business Administration. Row works with more than 150 clients, a customer base Ijaz wants to continue growing.  

“We started in one room and recently moved into a bigger place,” Ijaz said.

Ijaz said the company mainly focuses on social media and helping businesses receive more exposure online. Row also offers a wide variety of print marketing, graphic design and direct mail options. The company won the 2013 Best of San Marcos Award for marketing, an honor celebrating exceptional small businesses. The company’s website hit counter boasts more than 100 million views.

“Being a marketing company, it’s cool to see it grow into something,” said account manager Matt Wyatt.  

While ambitions of scaling the corporate ladder can be daunting, Ijaz said there are simple steps students can take to better their chances of success in the business world, chief among them securing a mentor.

“(Senior lecturer Vicki) West was very inspirational in the development of Row as she taught me the sales and entrepreneurial skills needed to get started,” Ijaz said.

For students eager to learn more about the world of business building, on-campus organization Enactus helps students understand enterprise development. Through the organization, students have an opportunity to share their experiences or lessons learned with other organization members, said Ijaz, Enactus president. Ijaz plans to impart his knowledge on organization members through Enactus.

“Do something you have a passion for,” Ijaz said. “Do your research and do everything the right way.”

Along with general business success, Ijaz counts sustainability and economic responsibility as one of his company’s top priorities. Row has teamed up with Trees for the Future to help plant trees in more than 19 countries affected by deforestation. Ijaz dedicated a portion of his company’s website profits to their promise of environmental welfare. As of January 2014, Row takes responsibility for the planting of 2,500 trees—one for each client serviced since its founding.
Row employs several Texas State students and a number of interns.  

“We just started taking interns and have about four working here now. I was their second intern here,” Wyatt said. The company, located on San Antonio Street, is in the process of hiring more students for marketing-based internship positions.
Ijaz cultivated his business idea for Row over time to turn it into the up-and-coming marketing company it is today.

“It’s the execution of the idea,” West said. “Work early, work late and have high performance.”