Meet Ali Payani, the Chairman, CEO, and Founder of Payani Group. He started his journey in the United States in 2016. With a background in computer science, systems security, and a Master’s in Management, Ali brought a wealth of knowledge from his previous work in AI and robotics in Dubai.
In 2017, Ali took a bold step and founded LookinLA, a marketing agency that recently was rebranded to Payani Media. Despite being a newcomer to the country and facing financial challenges Ali’s determination led Payani Media to become one of the fastest-growing companies, earning the 60th spot in the prestigious Inc. 5000 list. The early days involved relentless efforts until securing the first client—a testament to Ali’s tenacity.
“Started going door to door for months until we got the first client. I set up processes, systems, and strategies very fast that helped us grow faster” says Ali.
Ali’s journey in entrepreneurship began even earlier, as he started his first company at the age of 14, a branding firm in Tehran.
“I started my first company at 14, a branding company in Tehran. In 6 years growing a marketing agency, I learned a lot about business growth, and strategies, I worked with over 20 different industries and sectors” comments Ali
Fast forward to the present, and he now heads Payani Group, a private equity firm, advisory service, on top of the growth marketing agency, Payani Media, a full-service, data-driven agency assisting companies across diverse sectors.
Motivated by a desire to be a successful business leader and fueled by a passion for creating and scaling ventures, Ali’s foray into the private equity sector was driven by a realization during client meetings. He observed great software and services struggling due to a lack of understanding of business scalability and resistance to expert advice.
Reflecting on his entry into the marketing agency realm with LookinLA, Ali admits he initially had no knowledge of how marketing agencies operated. His initial goal was pragmatic—to generate income for living expenses in a new country. This challenge was compounded by a lack of contacts and capital, forcing Ali to learn the intricacies of business, sales, and marketing in the U.S. from scratch.
Ali’s inspiration for entering the business world traces back to his father, an entrepreneur himself, and the early days of his first venture at 14. Guided by a self-taught mindset, Ali emphasizes the significance of mindset in business, an idea he explored in his podcast, “A Leading Mindset.”
For aspiring entrepreneurs, Ali’s advice is clear: take action. While acknowledging the myriad aspects of business education, he underscores the importance of having a mentor from day one—a guide rather than a coach or consulting firm. He emphasizes perseverance, excellence, and continuous improvement, illustrated by the multiple iterations of marketing slides that eventually landed key clients.
Looking ahead, Ali’s major project is the rebranding of LookinLA to Payani Media, a strategic move to facilitate scaling. Growing the private equity and advisory arms of Payani Group is also a priority. Despite the challenges faced throughout his career, including geopolitical obstacles in Dubai and skepticism upon moving to the U.S., Ali’s resilience and focus have propelled him forward.
Differentiation for Ali comes through in the quality and rapid execution of his work, embodying a rainmaker mindset that envisions the end result while engaging with clients. Financial freedom, to him, means not just an improved personal life but the ability to positively impact the lives of others.
Ali’s journey from a Starbucks in Toluca Lake to the Forbes Business Council, the FastCompany Executive Board, and the Young Entrepreneur Council reflects his unwavering commitment to growth, excellence, and making bold changes in various fields. His private equity firm, advisory, and marketing agency are driving transformative changes in companies, aiming for higher returns and substantial wins.
Embark on your entrepreneurial journey inspired by Ali Payani. Transform your businesses. Seize the opportunity for unprecedented growth.