Sramana: Within the B2B framework, your strategy is to get a close to customer business processes as possible. Do you ask customers what their pain points are and design solutions around them?
Roman Stanek: That is exactly what I do. I am definitely a B2B person. You need special skills to be a B2C person, and I have found that B2B is what I am good at. I intentionally move toward business users and business processes.
Sramana: By 2006 you had sold your second major B2B startup. What was your next step?
Roman Stanek: I stayed with HP for 18 months. It was a painful experience at HP. There was no innovation. I left in the summer of 2007, and I took a couple of months off. In early 2008 I started GoodData.
Sramana: In 2008 when you started GoodData, what was your analysis of the environment? Where did you find the opportunity?
Roman Stanek: My assessment of 2008 is that it was the very early days of cloud computing. I don’t think big data was called big data at that point and time. You could see the scale that companies like Facebook and Google had reached. When I looked at the environment then, the notion of cloud computing was very powerful. I felt I had to get in as soon as possible. I decided to get into the world of big data and do business intelligence in the cloud.
From one perspective we were too early, and there was no real data. We were building a solution for an environment that did not fully exist in 2008. At the same time it took us a couple of years to build the GoodData technology platform. In fact, we developed that platform all the way through 2010.
Sramana: Coming back to business value, what were you hoping to do with the platform? What value were you going to provide and what type of customer were you going to provide it for?
Roman Stanek: My assumption is that the beauty of data and analytics is that it is a fairly horizontal environment. Every company has a data environment regardless of size, business focus, and territory. Everybody produces data. My assumption in 2008 is that the cloud would be the best place to store and analyze data. A lot of people thought I was stupid. Why would anybody move their data to the cloud for analytics? The business value was simply to help people understand data. That premise has held true. Today we can sell to any company in any territory or region, regardless of size.
The bigger question at the time I started GoodData was if data was indeed in the cloud, if it would get to the cloud and if it would always exist in the cloud, or would companies restrain that data to their basements because it was so core to what they do? That was the big gamble we took.