About Waleed Al-Atraqchi
Waleed Al-Atraqchi dreamed of running a company as a 12 year-old-working his first job in a small business. As a twenty-year old, Waleed got his first chance – he purchased an under-performing bagel shop in New York City and tripled its sales in just nine months. Today, as President and CEO of Affinnova, Waleed continues his mission of building a successful company, drawing upon his background in marketing technology and his passion for hiring great people and providing them with outstanding career opportunities. Under Waleed’s leadership, the company has grown its revenue an average 39% annually over the past five years and expanded its reach globally. Affinnova’s rapid growth and profitability has resulted in many awards and recognition, including being named by Deloitte & Touche among its list of fastest growing technology companies.
Prior to joining Affinnova, Waleed served as the President of Imagitas. Under his leadership, the company grew revenues from $50 million to $125 million in four years before being acquired by Pitney Bowes. Previously, Waleed was Senior Vice President of Sales at Catalina Marketing where he was responsible for 1/3 of the company’s revenues and consistently delivered 20%+ growth. Before his career in marketing services and technology, Waleed worked in brand management at Drypers and GlaxoSmithKline. Waleed holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University where he graduated in the Top 10 of his class.
Impact on Affinnova
When Waleed joined Affinnova in 2005, he began the process of building a sustainable, competitive commercial model around the core idea of using algorithms to optimize the creative output of innovation and marketing teams. His vision was to develop a scalable, technology-enabled system that can be used by marketers on demand and accessed in real-time, from anywhere over a SaaS platform. Affinnova initially established itself as a solutions leader in the consumer packaged goods space, helping companies maximize the output of its innovation. Today, Affinnova’s technology is being broadly used across multiple industries – not just for new product development, but for content creation activity including Web designs, emails, promotional offers, package design and retail store layouts.
Philosophies on Innovation, Hiring & Company Culture
Waleed has created a model of sustained innovation for Affinnova by committing 20% of revenue to R&D investment and developing products that make a big difference versus incremental gains. The company’s policy of only hiring “A” players has also helped to sustain innovation and growth. Waleed believes that hiring great people creates a positive cycle. If you have good people who are working on the right things, you will create a high growth environment, which in turn creates opportunities for internal promotion at a rate disproportionate to average companies. This has contributed significantly to the company’s ability to retain great talent throughout the years.
In addition to setting the tone for talent acquisition and retention, Waleed’s other contribution to the culture comes from his encouragement of open collaboration. Like the technology it provides, Affinnova promotes radically divergent and expanded creative thinking. Inputs and ideas are sought from everywhere. Ultimately, this creates better ideas, but it also builds a culture of shared-ownership in success and makes the company feel, at times, like a college campus.