Vlad has built his business using only bank financing, and has aspirations of growing it to $50 million. Read how he has done it, including about on-dilutive financing mechanisms.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Vlad Friedman: I was originally born in Ukraine back in 1973. In 1979, my family decided to immigrate to the United States. I came to Baltimore, Maryland at the age of six from Kiev. My family and I have lived here ever since.
Sramana Mitra: What about education?
Vlad Friedman: It was just a regular education. I was a Computer Science student in college. Having come here as immigrants, my family had to work very hard. From there, I got a very good perspective on the level of commitment it takes to be successful. I remember when I came over here I was a little kid. Both my parents had Masters degrees in Engineering. I remember them starting their journey at the very bottom of the totem pole while the positions they had previously had some element of prestige. Seeing the energy and effort they put in every single day and how much pride they put into their jobs really set an example for me as a kid. Also, I saw that they went from the ground floor to much higher levels than other folks just through their level of passion, dedication, and education.
I had been a computer geek for as long as I can remember. I got my first computer at the age of eight. I was programming on it from the second day. I grew up in the days where you had an acoustic coupler modem over which you would stick the telephone. On my first exposure to computers, I was amazed that this little box would do anything that I told it to do. I spent every spare minute of my day figuring out how to make this computer do anything that I needed.
I was deeply into programming and figuring out how things work. Every part of my spare time was there because I just had a natural interest for technology. I continued to do that through my childhood until I was 18. I then decided that I should pay my own way through college and that’s when I started my own technology company.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?
Vlad Friedman: That was 1991.
Sramana Mitra: What did you decide to do?
Vlad Friedman: I decided to become a consultant. I became an independent software developer where I would go into businesses. My perspective was to never focus on technology. From the beginning, my take was very simple. What was the business outcome that you want? That was the only question. Define what success looks like at the end of this engagement. Then let me worry about how to get you from point A to point B. For some reason, I stumbled on to that right from the very beginning. I’ve been doing this now for almost 25 years. That outcome-based perspective has never changed because it has never failed me.