Roman Stanek is the founder and CEO of GoodData, a cloud-based business intelligence platform. He is a serial entrepreneur who founded NetBeans and Systinet prior to founding GoodData. He began his career working as a country manager for Powersoft in 1993, followed by a role with Sybase in 1995.
Sramana: Roman, where are you from? What is your personal story that leads up to your entrepreneurial story?
Roman Stanek: I was born in Czechoslovakia. It was a different regime and a different environment. I did my schooling during the communist days. Once I got out of college, I started building my businesses. In a sense I never really worked for a company. I did my college in Czechoslovakia. People do not realize that studying computers in communist Czechoslovakia meant that we had no access to computers.
Sramana: I did my schooling in the U.S., but I understand that process well. My generation back in India did not have a lot of hands-on experience with computers. What happened after college? Did you remain in Czechoslovakia ?
Roman Stanek: Yes, I did. I had two very distinct periods of my career. After college my business was to distribute U.S. software into Eastern Europe. I would go to the U.S. and get distribution rights and then start selling that software in Eastern Europe. Very often the U.S. company would buy out my distributorship, and I would then move on to repeat that cycle. It was very good business. I took away the risk of international expansion, and in exchange they paid me once the business was established. I did that for the first 10 years of my career.
Sramana: What time span does that portion of your career cover?
Roman Stanek: I did that from 1989 to 1997. In 1997 I got connected to the Internet. It was a big moment for me. I realized that if I could go to Oracle.com and download software, then nobody in Eastern Europe was going to need me as a gatekeeper to get U.S. software. My business essentially disappeared overnight.
I realized that if the Internet would allow Eastern European customers to buy from the U.S. then it would also allow me to build software in Eastern Europe and sell it to the U.S. I started my first software company in Prague in 1997. My goal was to sell software over the Internet to the U.S. That company was purchased 18 months later by Sun Microsystems.