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Meet Ryan Vong of Digital Pi in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Vong.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in Silicon Valley, home of many of the technology brands we know today including Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, and many more during the early years where computing technology started to take off. I was always fascinated with technology and started my first program one summer on a Tandy 1000 TX machine writing lines of code to get the “flight of the bumblebee” to come out of the meager speakers.

My parents had always wanted me to become an engineer and at the time, I guess I did too. I ended up at a local community college pursuing this path until one day, I was sitting in math class for my final, and for the first time looked at the calculus questions and had no idea how to solve them. I turned in my final, withdrew from the class and had to rethink my entire life up to that point.

As I wandered through the hallways, I heard a lecture from one of the classes. The door was open, and everyone seemed really excited about the material. Marketing 101. The class started off with some basic statistics concepts, then went into the 4 P’s of marketing (Product, Price, Promotion, Place). These topics made sense and although the class seemed to struggle with the correlations in the data, I was used to it from the math background. From that day forward, I was hooked.

After college, I joined the first wave Internet companies spawning around the Bay Area and quickly found myself immersed in the subculture; its language, crazy imbalance of work/life, and “risk everything” mentality. I jumped from one startup to the next and within 2 years had changed 5 jobs, tried to start 2 businesses all the while trying to have a semblance of a normal life. This ended with the dotcom debacle. I went into a deep period of depression and self-reflection. At this point in my life I had missed out on my family. I had a wife I didn’t really see (who was practically living alone) and a child that didn’t really know his own father.

I took 3 months off to reconnect. Each day I spent with my son was the happiest I had been in a long time. Each family dinner together slowly brought us back. We remembered what we held sacred. No amount of money or opportunity in the world can replace what was more valuable, my time with them. I decided that my next role would be one where I can have it all, a balance of work/life/spirit. These ideals have to be in harmony.

Fast forward a few years and we have moved out of the Bay Area to DFW. I’ve relocated my company to Dallas and built a home and a business here. It’s been 4 years since the decision to leave the one place I never thought I would leave, the place that changed the world. But the riches here have been worth it all. My family is happier, we are closer to our friends. Our kids have friends who they have built great relationships. Our company is thriving because we are all thriving. Work/Life/Spirit and now I add Love to that.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road to this point so far has been windy and at times risky. I would say it has a variety of terrain. The way I can describe this best is that it’s easy to build a consulting business like ours, but it takes an incredible amount of focus and dedication to make it successful. When we take on clients, it’s not just the work we take on but the client’s personalities, how they operate, how they like to interact and their business environment. When we hire someone, we have to look at more than just the work experience. We assess the motivation of the potential employee and their support system at home. We have 50 employees, but more like 50 families in this company.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Digital Pi – what should we know?
We are a consulting agency that specializes in marketing automation technology, specifically the Marketo Engagement Platform. It’s quite a technical definition and the version I like using in order to explain it to my parents is that we help companies that market products and services to other companies do it better and prove it.”

My proudest achievement to date is recently being listed on the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in America. It took a lot of work from an incredibly talented team to reach this accomplishment. The team is the difference. We have the best experts in our industry hands down.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are many others who deserve credit. The biggest shout out goes to my wife who stuck with me through some of those dark moments and late-night hours just telling me it’ll all work out. My kids for understanding that dad’s working a lot but will always find ways to connect with them, so they feel loved. Tom Grubb, Bill Lundy, Bob Gallagher the 3 early folks who had amazing careers going for them but decided to take a chance on this business. Lastly, all the clients who started with us before we had a “real” company. We couldn’t have done it without their support.

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