According to the 2010 U.S. census, only 27.3 percent of college grads have jobs related to their major, and Jon Zacharias is a part of the majority who doesn’t. Once a student at the California Western School of Law, Zacharias found himself working a desk job with a class action law firm when he one day had an epiphany.
“I realized that I was way more interested in getting the cases than litigating them,” Zacharias recalls. But, can someone make a career out of getting cases? Well, not exactly.
Zacharias is a co-founder of an innovative Los Angeles startup called GR0, a marketing agency based on improving the Google rankings for e-commerce brands. He and cohort Kevin Miller founded the company based on a mutual understanding of the value of search engine optimization (SEO) as a means for driving businesses, which it was doing for both law firms and medical practices.
The two saw the opportunity to create cost-effective and high-impact marketing content for smaller organizations like themselves. “We allow these brands to work with huge celebrities that they wouldn’t normally be able to work with because they couldn’t afford to put millions of dollars down upfront,” explains Zacharias. “But they can afford for us to do a whitelisting campaign. It’s a new type of campaigns that we’re doing, and they are very, very powerful.”
Back at his desk as a student working to pay his bills in San Diego, Zacharias found himself almost obsessed with the concept of understanding Google rankings, to the point that he would study it for years to come. “I spent the next seven, eight years, from 2011 to 2019, when we started the company, perfecting the science behind SEO, and then once I had that perfected, I started applying tactics that had never been used in e-commerce. It was really like the second wave of SEO.”
But despite completing his degree and moving to Los Angeles, the path forward was not easy for Zacharias, and he hit some speed bumps, including substance abuse. However, as an enterprising young man, he was able to make the best of this situation.
“I got sober in November of 2016 with the support of [residential drug rehab center] CRI-Help,” Zacharias explained, telling of how it was during his rehabilitation that he first connected with Miller. “We immediately became best friends, talking every single second,” Zacharias muses.
“I feel like my entire life shifted as soon as I met him,” says Zacharias. Miller had previously worked for Google and some startup companies in San Francisco, and at the time, was the Head of Growth at Opendoor. Zacharias says they found both a common interest and a shared enterprise quickly,
“I was showing him how to grow traffic through SEO, and he loved it so much that he was like, ‘let’s just start a business and do this for as many direct-to-consumer brands as we can because it’s such a powerful channel,’” he recalls. “Everyone trusts Google, and naturally, if you can get high on Google for certain words, it’s invaluable to the client.”
Now two years since the official founding of their venture, GR0 has become one of the most reputable names in LA’s marketing scene and represents brands like Nugenix, Theragun, Hydrow, Venus et Fleur, and even Funboy floats. According to Zacharias, he and Miller have succeeded because they offer not only SEO but also something that no one else can: connections. “We are matching the hottest direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands, working with the biggest celebrities in the world, and creating real partnerships.”