He is 19 years old. Unlike most others of his age, he’s nearly impossible to find on Instagram (and the posts there are about his business). His Facebook page states “privacy is a super power.” But while you may not know or have seen Adam Guild, this West Hollywood entrepreneur has been building a reputation for his work helping entrepreneurs both in the tech world and in the restaurant business. (And he’s a self-made millionaire.)
Guild describes his latest endeavor,
Guild, who grew up in West Hollywood, founded
“In many ways, the Internet raised me,” Guild says on his LinkedIn page. “I’ve been using it as a learning resource and it has been my complete obsession since I was six years old. I began as deeply curious about digital marketing, social media and hacking.”
Guild, who as a child had dreams of becoming a lawyer, took a bold step at the age of 12 onto the path that led him into digital marketing. He was in the sixth grade at the Center for Early Education, where neither he nor his fellow classmates were allowed on Facebook “and all really wanted to be,” Guild said. He came up with a solution that he called Centerpedes Connect, a social network.
“I launched my first successful project (not business venture) by building our own social network for our class using open source code and online resources,” Guild said in interviews in person and through email. “Within a few days, the vast majority of the class was online and actively using the network. We had all of the basic Facebook features, like profiles and comments and messaging, plus a few more like music sharing and themed chatrooms (almost like groups).”
“This was my gateway drug of building something useful for a group of people who would find it to be really helpful.” That is how Guild describes his work as an entrepreneur.
The launch of Centerpedes “… immediately boosted my social status and made me feel significant, helpful and valued – and as though I was making progress with my life, said Guild, who is modest and somewhat shy and says he is not a social person. “Cue the entrepreneurial addiction music …”
The school asked Guild to shut down Centerpedes. But its launch inspired Guild to use his skills in another field in which he was interested: gaming.
“I launched my first successful business venture at 13 years old,” Guild said. “It was the project that facilitated multiplayer connections and built multiplayer experiences for Minecraft.”
The company, Pristine Technologies, became a huge success. “At its peak, we had a team of 50 people globally (mostly volunteers who loved our experience and a few full time professionals),” Guild said.
Guild sold some of Pristine’s assets and stepped away from the company in September 2018. He had graduated from high school two years early, and now, while his classmates were in college, he decided to continue to pursue what he calls a degree in “Self-Education from the University of Life.”
One project was inspired by his mother’s need for help with Groom, a
“She was devastated and afraid because she feared not succeeding with building the business she worked so hard to build, ” Guild said of his mother, Toni Kotite. “Despite investing so much time and money in creating an amazing customer experience, it was really difficult for her to draw people in initially.
“Once new customers experienced Groom, they loved it, but it was really difficult for her to get new people to come in initially because she’s on a street with no foot traffic.
“She was absolutely devastated because she thought she was going to lose it all, and she asked for my help with marketing. So I started experimenting with the different growth hacking (results-based digital marketing) tactics that I’d used to such success in consumer technology, and BAM!
“Within three months, she had reached her three-year annual revenue rate projections. Today, for example, she’s literally booked straight for a week in advance and has five full time groomers – soon to be six. She initially planned to have three.”
What Guild does not mention, perhaps a reflection of his shyness, is that Groom also has become the dog grooming salon of choice for celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Ellen DeGeneres.
“Yes, I growth-hacked my mother’s dog grooming business in West Hollywood, using the principles that I’d used to acquire over 10 million users on my various consumer technology projects,” Guild said, using the term that describes the practice of experimenting rapidly in areas such as product development, sale segments and marketing to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business. “And that was my gateway to using my abilities to benefit hard working entrepreneurs – who I view as heroes in their local communities. They create jobs and generously spend their lives improving the quality of life of those in their communities through iteratively better products and services.”
“Her growth was mostly through SEM (search engine marketing), SEO (search engine optimization), and CRO (conversion rate optimization), paired with some social media marketing. “
When Guild stepped away from Pristine he launched a new company called Best Instant Fun. In January 2018, four months after its launch, he sold its three most popular games “plus the marketing technology and growth hacks we had built.”
“We focused on restaurants for a variety of analytical factors,” said Guild, whose passion for analytics is quickly evident after meeting him. “They have the highest organic local demand of any local business, they have a high fixed cost structure and low average transaction size, which creates a need for a high volume of new customers to thrive and survive, and they are amazing for society and for preserving the American Dream. I have great respect for all of our customers – brave risk-takers who work doggedly hard to build something from nothing that will improve their community.
“Plus we love empowering hard working business owners, and the restaurant sector just happens to have a few hundred thousand of them in a United States. We feel privileged for the opportunity to serve them.”
“I adore Morten, Mina, and John – owners of Tortilla Republic and Taste,” Guild said. They were my first ever customers and believers in me, and we literally met through me completing a background check on Morten to get his mobile number and sending him a cold text on his phone. It was something like ‘Hey I’m Adam and I’m a 19-year-old tech entrepreneur here in LA and I think we can get you thousands of new customers and make a lot of money together.’ Then we got along really well, and I immediately loved him and his partners. I am so grateful for them having taken a chance on me, and I believe they’re grateful for that decision and for me as well.”
Today, Placepull helps restaurant clients who operate in hundreds of locations in dozens of states. What makes it stand out from its competitors?
“One word: focus,” Guild said. “We’re obsessively focused with the process of customer acquisition for restaurants and we don’t do anything else. And we only focus on one way of doing it: through converting local demand that exists in every city into new customers.
“That maniacal focus on being the best solution in the world for a small group of people, rather than being a good solution for a large group of people, is exactly what makes us so effective and relevant to our market.
“And importantly, we’re not quite a digital marketing agency. We’re a marketing technology company that helps restaurants get new customers using our proprietary technology and our proven system.”
So after Placepull, what’s next?”
“I will be building Placepull for at least the next decade, and I am committed to revolutionizing how local businesses market through technology,” Guild said.
“I refuse to consider other ventures, no matter how green the grass on the other side looks, because I’ve made a commitment to me to build this company and improve life for local business owners generally.
“We’ve started with and focused on restaurants, and once we saturate the $23,000,000,000+ restaurant marketing industry, we’ve identified other verticals with similar economics and attributes which are the best applications for our technology.”
Oh, and what does Adam Guild do other than work seven days a week? On occasion he does volunteer work with two charities, details of which he doesn’t want to discuss. “I don’t want any public credit for the volunteer work that I do,” he said. “I do it for the cause not for the recognition.”
He is on the Leadership Council of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only membership organization for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.
Then there is the reading – 182 books a year (an average of one every two days.) And online courses. He was the youngest ever to take courses from Harvard Business School online (starting at 17 – lower than their minimum required age) and he still takes lots of online courses to supplement them.
That’s the life of a self-confessed entrepreneurial addict.