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Who is Manick Bhan?

I’m the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, a full-service digital marketing agency, and the creator of the enterprise SEO software platform SearchAtlas

I’m also the former founder and CEO of Rukkus, a mobile ticketing App that was acquired by TickPick, Stubhub, and SeatGeek in 2018.

My journey of entrepreneurship has been a wild one. I’m grateful that I didn’t give up.

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Here’s my story.

Finding My Way: Medicine > Wall Street > Technology

Back in college, I thought I wanted to go into medicine. But as someone who is deathly afraid of blood (I’ll actually faint), I quickly realized it wasn’t the right path for me. 

I discovered that my passions were elsewhere. I was interested in markets. I was interested in business. 

So I ended up going to Wall Street, where I started working at Goldman Sachs. After being there for five years, I found my next passion: technology. 

Seeing companies like Groupon and eBay IPO was fascinating. To see the energy that was in the room—we hadn’t seen anything like that since the first tech boom. 

And that energy pulled my life in this entirely new direction. 

I left my cushy, well-paying investment banking job at Goldman to learn how to code. I was a product guy, and I wanted to build something cool.

I had no idea I would end up becoming a CTO and building my own tech company. 

The Rukkus Years

The curiosity I had developed in technology led me into the crazy industry of ticketing.

I built and launched Rukkus in 2014. It was a secondary market for concert sports theater tickets.

But it was a David vs. Goliath scenario. Our total fundraising was the lunch money of our competitors.

We had to be very judicious and really careful with all of our bets. And we didn’t have a lot of room to make mistakes. 

But my beloved team of miscreants beat out TicketMaster, Stubhub, SeatGeek, and all the sharp-elbowed competitors that raised 50X the capital that we did… somehow we did it.

We had built something cool, VR Seat Views, which we built by hand. 

Our team went to over 900 stadiums across the USA. Two teams of 2 avid sports fans made their quest across the country to capture these high-resolution images using a custom glove with GoPro fittings that allowed us to get Super High Res 360 Degree Images. 

You could even see the popcorn on the floor!

The best thing of all, we funded this almost entirely through credit card points. We were a scrappy startup. We had to be lean. 

I had poured my life into this company, paying myself peanuts, just enough to survive, but we were still struggling to reach profitability. 

All the while, I was lighting my bank account on fire.

To survive, I was arbing my NYC apartment on Airbnb and making $150/night. 

Just enough to survive on.

The End of an Era

Rukkus eventually had an opportunity to partner with Shazam. I knew it could be a gamechanger. 

Their DR 80-90 website was about to boost up our SEO with over 1 million backlinks and millions of hits of targeted traffic from Shazam. 

I bet that the SEO boost would be enough to improve our SEO and we’d break profitability.

We pursued the partnership, but the millions of backlinks and traffic didn’t save my company, or our SEO.

So after almost 4 years of hard work, we sold our VR seat view and interactive seating charts, the hardest technology IP I created as CTO, to Stubhub, Tickpick, and SeatGeek. 

I put my investors who supported me first, but I didn’t make a penny.

I saw my teammates have to get new jobs. There was so much disappointment.

The SEO boost never happened. The great SEO campaign failed, and I never understood why.

My friends and our investors who believed in me gave me a pat on the back. They were disappointed, but they knew I did everything in my power.

But understanding SEO was an unfinished chapter. The mystery of the ranking engine that drives over $5 trillion of global economic value… eluded me.

That’s why I’m here today. Because of that unresolved baggage. 

The Love Affair with SEO

I simply refused to let it go.

I studied Google Patents.

I ran correlation studies on search results, looking for relationships between rankings and metrics like Moz’s DA, Ahrefs DR, Majestic’s Trust Flow / Citation Flow, Page Load Speed, Alexa Rank, Content Length, and even Organic Traffic. 

I read up on Bill Slawski’s SEO By the Sea (may he rest in peace).

I started helping my friends in Silicon Valley. They wanted my expertise with digital marketing, and especially their SEO.

SEO had been a huge part of our strategy at Rukkus. I had figured out a few key innovations, and I shared them with my friends.

And since I was already helping them use SEO to scale, it was time to make it official.

LinkGraph was born.

The LinkGraph Years

I founded LinkGraph in 2019. It started in that same NYC apartment that just a few years earlier, I had been forced to rent out. 

That’s when I met Arman, LinkGraph’s co-founder and current Director of SEO. We realized that other brands needed SEO just as badly as Rukkus had.

SEO was like the pebble in David’s slingshot. It was affordable. It was democratic. It was the best way new brands could break in quickly and compete with the big guys.

Fast forward a few years, and LinkGraph has been named an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing business and has earned recognition from Fortune, U.S. Search Awards, and others. 

We provide managed SEO services to hundreds of brands across all industries.

But like I said, in my core, I was still a product guy. 

After I started working with more agencies, I noticed that the popular SEO software offerings had a lot of insufficiencies.

And because I was a programmer, I decided to build my own.

The Return to Product: SearchAtlas Software

SearchAtlas started as a few tools that my agency team could use in their strategy and execution.

I’d hear them mention some type of SEO tool they wanted. Then I’d stay up all night and write the code.

I started creating more and more tools. And Arman started using the tools in his meetings with clients.

The questions flooded in. What software is this? Can we use it?

People loved the product. And that’s when we knew we had something special.

Where We Are Now: LinkGraph + SearchAtlas

The past two years have been focused on continuing to grow LinkGraph while also building out SearchAtlas.

We want to be the best enterprise SEO software suite on the market.

Our platform now replaces over 45 different marketing tools. All with one subscription.

And we are growing. Fast. 

I was able to pair my two passions. Product and SEO. And I’m so proud of my team and what we’ve built.

We have big goals. That IPO energy is still on my mind. We are aiming for the moon 🚀

To learn more about our amazing software product, connect with my team

Or reach out to me directly here. I’d love to hear your story.