Ajit “A.J.” Khubani ’84 is the founder, president, and CEO of the Fairfield, New Jersey-based TeleBrands Corporation, a leading consumer products company specializing in Direct Response Television Marketing. He created the familiar “As Seen On TV” logo and category of trade that is now a worldwide phenomenon. His products are sold in more than 100 countries around the world. Khubani recently took the time to share some of his memories and insights with the Montclair State Alumni Magazine.
What led you to choose Montclair State?
Well, I wasn’t a very good student in high school and, quite frankly, I didn’t even want to go to college. But my father said “you must go to college somewhere.” My brother had gotten into Montclair so I applied…but I got rejected. My brother went and talked to the dean of the business school and said “do me a favor and meet my brother who really wants to come here.” So I went and met with [the dean] and he gave me a break. He said “I’m going to give you a chance—don’t let me down.” So I went [to Montclair]…and I did pretty well.
What did you think of your college days?
I had terrific professors at Montclair if I think back—some really terrific professors. I can name at least five classes that I really thoroughly enjoyed and came away with a lot. Things like marketing—Marketing 101—was a favorite class. Also statistics, finance, economics, and accounting—I enjoyed all those courses. And public speaking…I was very shy as a kid; painfully shy. You know, scared to death if I ever had to get up and talk to anybody…but the class really helped me.
I really enjoyed my experience at Montclair—except for the parking, which was always a hassle. The parking used to drive me crazy! I tried everything. I finally figured out a secret parking spot…I don’t think it was designed for students but I didn’t see any signs on it so I just drove my car over there and there was always a parking spot. No one said anything so I continued to park there.
What do you like best about your business?
There’s one thing that I absolutely love to do and I spend as much time as possible doing it, and that’s marketing. All the other functions I don’t like to do, although I have to get involved in them. As I grew and continued to focus on marketing, I was able to hire people to do all those things that I don’t like to do. So I’m the chief marketing executive.
What have been some of your top selling products over the years?
Well, recently the Ped Egg sold twenty million pieces and Pedi Paws has sold eight million pieces since August of last year. We had the Audubon Singing Bird Clock back in 1998 which did roughly 100 million dollars in revenue and AmberVision sunglasses, which we launched back in 1987. We sold fifteen million of those.
What is your secret to success?
There are a couple of key ingredients to success, I think, for anybody. Number one is you’ve got to be passionate about whatever you’re doing. Because if you’re passionate about something, it comes true and the result is success. The other thing you need is a hard work ethic. You’ve got to not be afraid to work hard.
How do you like to spend your free time?
My favorite thing to do by far is to run my business. That’s my number one favorite hobby. If you think about hobbies…I mean, people say “I love to golf” or “I love to fish”…those things—and I’ve tried those things—are a lot of work! But people love it for whatever reason. So to me, a hobby is just work that you love to do. I could call my business my hobby, because it’s work that I love to do.
Of which of your many awards and accomplishments are you most proud?
I’m proud of the fact that I have a terrific family. That’s probably my biggest accomplishment. I have a loving wife, and three wonderful kids who are well grounded. They have level heads on their shoulders and are not affected by my success. I’m very happy that I’ve been able to accomplish keeping my family grounded, and loving, and having the values in life that are most important.
Is there anything you would like to say to your fellow alumni?
I think that as a group of Montclair alumni, we’re very fortunate to have had Montclair around as an opportunity for us, as a stepping stone to get where we are today. We got a high quality education at a very deep discount and we’re fortunate that Montclair was around to provide that to us.