Meet Ilana, VP of Marketing at AutoLeadStar and Dealer Marketing Magazine Expert

by Dealer Marketing Magazine

The Foundations

"I did two years as a shooting instructor, and it was really fun!"

If you know Ilana, you know she doesn't fit any mold. 

We met with her on a video call; she was in a coffee shop and warmly greeted someone she knew as they walked in. That is Ilana. Welcoming, open and kind; relatable. She began to unpack her "start," an exciting story of army duty, exploration, and essentially, finding her team: her home base from which brilliance has come. 

The Start

"At the time, we weren't working in automotive. There were only five people at the Company, and I decided to take a chance because I liked the mission and the leadership. It was the best decision."

Ilana worked through college and attained a degree in Psychology in the US, where she had grown up. "I knew that I wanted to do my army service. It's mandatory in Israel, and although everyone was going off to start their careers, it's something I knew I wanted to do."

After completing her service, Ilana was introduced to someone who would become pivotal in her career. 

"At the time, we weren't working in automotive. There were only five people at the Company, and I decided to take a chance because I liked the mission and the leadership. It was the best decision."

Shortly after Ilana joined the Company, it changed its name to AutoLeadStar. It also changed its focus and began serving the automotive industry.

"In the beginning, the CEO and I would travel back and forth while managing all sales from Israel; it was crazy!"

In 2016, Ilana and Aharon Horwitz, the CEO of AutoLeadStar, attended their first NADA and then, a few months later, their first Digital Dealer. A lot has happened since then. They were able to meet people, have conversations and began truly understanding how to optimize for automotive dealers. "We understood some of the challenges. We began to focus and build relationships. It was an amazing experience."

The Wins?

"Building out a marketing team is actually way more aligned with what I want to do than I ever imagined."

Ilana Shabtay:

We're at over 100 people in the Company, which is, I think, the most exciting part about that whole journey is being able to be a part of building something and scaling a company now with way more experience but having been involved in the nitty-gritty from the beginning. I never thought I would be running a marketing department, but once we had a bigger team, it made sense for me to focus on and scale up the marketing department.

We have people that focus on conversion optimization, we have a Growth Manager, a Content Marketing Manager, and they own it, which allows me to focus on the relationships.

Being authentic is important. And I think that sticks out because I don't think it's very common. There's something about just being very real. When you build relationships, that's really special. And I think part of that is also just being able to remember things about people. And when you care about those relationships, people remember.

The Future?

"How do we stick to our mission when we're growing a company and obviously, you know, make money, but there's more to it; sticking to the core values."

Ilana Shabtay: 

This means making sure that people have a work-life balance and ensuring that our organizational values trickle down throughout the organization to all 100-plus people. This is just as important as delivering a successful business. 


On the 30th of November, AutoLeadStar's Q4 Live Launch Event, "AI-Powered Service Campaigns," took place, the third of the Company's commitment to a new product or big feature, released quarterly. 

"We really care about disrupting the industry, and we commit to innovating quarterly."

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