Alex came to study engineering at the University of Cincinnati in 1994 after growing up in Kharkhiv, one of Cincinnati’s sister cities.
Alex Yastrebenetsky and Michael Loban have some fundamental differences: Alex is an engineer, Michael a marketing guy. Alex is a Universityof Cincinnati alumnus, while Michael graduated from Xavier.
But they have some more crucial similarities. Both immigrated to Cincinnati from Ukraine, where they shared a distant family connection and knew each other a bit. And both are entrepreneurs at heart who hold executive positions at InfoTrust, a web analytics firm that helps companies improve their digital marketing. Alex is co-founder and CEO of InfoTrust, while Michael serves as its chief marketing officer.
Both arrived in Cincinnati as teenagers. Alex came to study engineering at UC in 1994 after growing up in Kharkhiv, one of Cincinnati'ssister cities. Though he describes himself as an engineer at heart, he made the decision to someday open his own business after he saw 200 or so co-workers laid off in the recession of 2001-2002.
"Since then I realized I wanted to control my own destiny, and I'll do what I need to make it happen," says Alex, who moved from a student visa to a work visa and later became a naturalized citizen. Michael was in high school when his family was awarded a green card and moved to Cincinnati. He graduated from Xavier in 2008, majoring in marketing and entrepreneurial studies, and worked in marketing for a few years before joining forces with Alex at InfoTrust.
The primary mission at InfoTrust is to help companies measure and understand how their customers use the Internet with an eye toward attracting new customers and converting current ones to more sales. Clients include three Fortune 100 companies, 13 of the top 100 brands in the world, and 20 of the 1,000 most visited websites in North America. Inc. Magazine has recognized them as one of the top 1000 fastest-growing companies in the U.S., and they've been finalists for Best Place to Work in Cincinnati for five years in a row.
They're recognized as a Google Analytics Partner—a designation so coveted that Alex and Michael conducted the video interview with Google from Good Samaritan Hospital as Alex's wife was in labor, with Alex running back and forth between the interview and the delivery room. The company's success led leaders to open an office in Dubai, and they have clients all over the world.
Both Michael and Alex are devoted to their alma maters, and both give back by teaching or lecturing at classes in their field, helping students however they can. Alex says the support for international students at UC is phenomenal, but he'd like to see more small businesses in the Cincinnati region make an effort to hire immigrants after they graduate from college. His own case is instructive: as a UC student, he got a job with a software company as part of the university's co-op program, and was then hired there full-timeafter graduation.
"Obviously it costs money, and there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through," he says, "but to ignore that huge talent pool is short-sighted."