Jeremy Pallai - Hatching New Ideas at Vistaprint
This post appears as part of our Driven profile series, spotlighting some of the hottest movers and shakers from all corners of the Boston tech and startup space.
Jeremy Pallai has experienced the kind of career trajectory many people dream about.
In a little over a decade, he’s grown from roles in entry-level customer support, to scaling business operations across the globe. His work has landed him in exotic destinations: Montego Bay, Barcelona, Montreal, and Paris - to name a few. He’s helped merge teams and products post-acquisition, and entered new markets by developing innovative solutions, and launched an innovation lab within a major public company.
The catch? He’s done all this while at the same company, Vistaprint.
What was a little-known startup recruiting recent grads off of Craigslist in 2004 - the year Pallai started at the company - is today a billion dollar small business marketing powerhouse. And just as Vistaprint has scaled, so too has Pallai’s career.
SUCCESS COMES QUICK
In 2004, Pallai was a fresh-faced Fairfield University graduate. He’d just moved back to Boston from Connecticut and took a job at Vistaprint piloting its then-new graphic design service.
“I wasn’t that interested before my interview,” recalls Pallai. “Printing didn’t seem exciting. But I learned more and it became clear Vistaprint was a very different place. These guys were doing something interesting in a boring industry.”
Despite his initial disinterest, Pallai joined Vistaprint - and his career quickly took off. Within a year, his customer support skills were so sharp, the company opted to send him off to Montego Bay to help grow a team. For two years, he frequently traveled there and back, determining business processes like the proper way to handle various types of calls and the company’s refund processes.
In 2007, he helped launch Vistaprint’s first creative services offering. A year later, he joined a startup-like digital services team within Vistaprint and spent the next four years launching a handful of products that brought the company beyond just print. During this same time period, Vistaprint acquired Webs.com. Pallai joined the Maryland-based company’s management team to help merge its with Vistaprint and develop a core of products to be offered across both brands.
Pallai hit the decade-mark with Vistaprint in 2014, and was entitled to take his second “Vistabreak” - a month-long sabbatical afforded to employees every five years. (More on Pallai’s Vistabreaks later.)
LAUNCHING THE LAB
Reaching a 10-year anniversary with the same company may give others the itch to explore new opportunities, but not Pallai. His career path has grown through reinvention after all, so it only seems appropriate that, upon returning from his Vistabreak, he discovered a meeting with Vistaprint’s president on his calendar.
During the meeting, Pallai was offered the opportunity to launch what would eventually become Hatchery, Vistaprint’s innovation lab focused on discovering new business models and proving their ability to drive customer and revenue growth.
Surprisingly, Pallai says joining Hatchery as its director of new business models was a tough decision.
“I spent a long time on the digital side of the business and was proud of the team we built,” he reflects. “But at the 10 year mark, I wanted to reinvent myself and do something new. When you can do wildly different things within the same great organization, why would you ever leave?”
Ultimately, Pallai took the role. Today, along with a team of seven, he is paving the future of Vistaprint.
“We’re looking beyond the web-to-print and existing services of today,” he explains. “We’re working on completely new products and have spent the last year prototyping a number of services.
“Hatchery’s charter is to prototype potentially breakthrough ideas to add customer value or new sources of revenue,” he adds.
It’s this innovation within Vistaprint that motivates Pallai, who says he’s “never been more excited” about where the company is going than he is now.
PALLAI ON THE MOVE
Outside of work, Pallai is a family man. He and wife Megan met while in college. In 2009, they married and spent Jeremy’s first Vistabreak on their honeymoon: a two and a half week-long safari that took them through Africa, the Kalahari Desert, and the Okavango Delta in Botswana.
During his second and most recent Vistabreak, Pallai wrote Fish on the Move, a children’s book edited by his wife and illustrated by his mother, an artist. Inspired by his personal passion for fishing, Fish on the Move details the migratory patterns of the striped bass.
A portion of the proceeds go to benefit fishery preservation, though Pallai notes his motivation wasn’t profit, but to work on the project with his family.
When he’s not busy with his three children, Wyatt, Zach, and Fiona, and rescue dog Maybe, Pallai can be found fishing out on his boat, or posting fishing photos to his blog, Fishing Around Boston.
And if those activities aren’t keeping Pallai busy, you can be sure he’ll be quick to find something that does - because this man thrives on living life at full speed.
“I like the stress,” Pallai says. “Stress means you’re working on something impactful. Usually the most stressful times, like right before a product launch, are the best times. Stress usually pays back with reward.”