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How This 31-Year-Old CEO Plans to Shift the Way Brands Communicate with Audiences

As the CEO of Neuro-Insight, Pranav Yadav is using brain-mapping to help brands deliver more effective messages.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
Updated 8:08AM 01/23/17

What do LeBron James, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Pranav Yadav have in common? Well, for starters, they’re all listed in the Forbes 30 Under 30 2017 All-Star Alumni List.

But while some of these names might be responsible for leading an underdog team to win the title of NBA Champions, and others might be the creative masterminds behind Grammy Award-winning pop songs, one person in particular stands out for a very different reason. Spearheading Neuro-Insight—a company that uses neuromarketing to help brands deliver more effective messages—is 31-year-old CEO Pranav Yadav. And by developing a patented brain-mapping technology to measure how the human mind responds to marketing communications, his company has helped mega-brands like Twitter, Google and Facebook maximize the impact of their ideas in a bigger way than ever before.

Prior to joining Neuro-Insight, Yadav worked at the New York office of ReD Associates, a global leader in innovation strategy consulting. At ReD, Yadav gained a breadth of experience across industries and functions – market entry strategy for a global high-tech giant; a cutting edge initiative to design the blueprint for a sustainable city of the future in Europe; and a strategy to re-define the world of organized gaming for a leading entertainment group. Prior to Red, Yadav was part of the elite Structured Equity Derivatives group at Goldman Sachs, New York. He was part of the core team that established and developed the retail structured notes business in the US.

Then, at the young age of 25, his life took an unexpected turn. He was introduced to Dr. Richard Silberstein, the inventor of Neuro-Insight’s technology. Headquartered in Australia, Silberstein was interested in expanding the company into the United States—and he had put his trust in Yadav to lead the charge.  

Today, Yadav is at the helm of a company that’s defining its own unique industry. He’s worked with brands like Unilever, Nestle and Target, helping them tap into neuroscience and behavioral economics to work out how to improve their marketing. Neuroscience uses brain imaging to take an intimate peek into the areas that are activated as people watch television commercials or engage with a brand. Behavioral economics looks at the psychology of how people make decisions. Together, the data then helps brands craft more effective messages to encourage them to behave in a certain way.

Fueling Yadav over the past few years is a fairly simple philosophy: Produce the best, without expectation of recognition, wealth or fear of failure.

“When I came on board as CEO of Neuro-Insight in the United States, I was tasked with running a smaller company that was just getting off the ground in a new country. The challenges there became both business and personal to me—it’s all overlapping. My entire existence was—and is—around this company,” Yadav said. “Having personal equity in what you do every single day is so important when running a business. In a lot of ways, you are the company. To get people to believe in you, you have to believe in your own work that’s put out into the world. That’s my challenge to myself every single day.”

Just listen to one of Yadav’s many stories, and it’s clear he’s a man of his word, too. While traveling in a small city in Turkey with two members of Neuro-Insight's Australian office, Yadav and his team had to catch a local flight out to Istanbul. They had to be in London the next day for a project, but their flight was cancelled due to a snow storm. Yadav remembered a cab driver he had started a conversation with a few days earlier, so he gave him a call with a proposition: to drive his team 12 hours to Istanbul for 600 Lira. He agreed, but a few hours into the ride, Yadav saw the driver falling asleep at the wheel. So, rather than putting his team in danger, he got behind the wheel, driving 10 hours straight on a route he didn’t know.

“I had to do everything in my power to make sure these people got to London so our work could be done. That’s what it takes,” Yadav said.

That kind of genuineness, humility and passion has gone a long way for Yadav. As Neuro-Insight kicks off 2017, it does so with an impressive roster of clients and an even more impressive track record of success.

“I’m so incredibly proud that our client base is one of the most enviable in the world—some of the biggest players in each industry work with us,” Yadav said. “It’s heart-warming to see despite the challenges we face year after year. My biggest agenda in working with a client is to produce something of value that they can and use to their benefit. We take a lot of pride in presenting our research and what we find, and telling them that this is what they need to do to get to where they want to be.”

In the years ahead, success for Neuro-Insight means being agile and being flexible. Yadav is proud to say that he’s not a regimented person by any means — but he likes to deliver on his promise. As long as the work is done, and done well — he believes in total flexibility. This is why his most important core value going into 2017 comes down to one simple belief: it’s OK to say no.

“As a company, we say ‘no’ if a client comes to us and it doesn’t seem like a good fit, or it falls out of our area of expertise. I’m upfront about what we can and can’t do,” Yadav said. “The only reason I can say this is because I know what we’re good at. Saying ‘no’ allows you to not produce sub-par, sub-standard work. Our endgame is to always produce work that is nothing less than outstanding.”