Duncan Scarry

Duncan Scarry
Age: 39
Title: Founder and general manager, Haystak Digital Marketing
Big break: Creating the Haystak digital advertising platform

Duncan Scarry knew he had found the right buyer for his company, Haystak Digital Marketing, when AutoTrader management asked him what resources were needed to make the business grow faster.

Haystak, which helps dealers with paid search and other digital strategies, had 80 employees and about 1,500 dealer customers when AutoTrader bought the 3-year-old company in May 2013 and folded it into its VinSolutions unit.

Since then AutoTrader has paid for Haystak to finish development of a new Web site technology that can track what online car shoppers are looking at and send them photos and content for the specific vehicles of interest. Those Haystak Web sites, which were started by VinSolutions, began rolling out in January.

AutoTrader management wants Haystak to compete daily against larger players such as Dealer.com and Cobalt, Scarry said.

"They'll ask me things like, 'If you had more money or people, what could you do?'"

That attitude fits with Scarry's entrepreneurial drive. In 2002, the Florida native opened his first company, Moore & Scarry, an advertising agency that focused on digital campaigns in addition to traditional TV and radio spots.

He bought out his partner at Moore & Scarry in 2006 and began working on technology that took dealership inventory and created short ads appealing to shoppers on Google.

Then Scarry set up a unit of his advertising firm to develop the technology. When AutoTrader spotted the potential of Haystak Digital Marketing it also saw the potential of its creator. It bought the company and left Scarry in charge.

You can reach David Barkholz at dbarkholz@crain.com -- Follow David on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/barkholzatan