According to IDC, 65% of global GDP is expected to be digitized by 2022, driving over $6.8 trillion in global spending on digital transformation from 2020 to 2023. As organizations digitize their workstreams, activities that were earlier performed in physical environments, and those that were already digital, need to be continuously re-engineered to drive faster speed and higher efficiency. Israel-based monday.com (Nasdaq: MNDY), which recently went public, provides cloud-based solutions to drive this digitization.>>>
Sramana Mitra: What happens next?
Erik Allebest: I had an internship at a big tech company. I wasn’t that interested in it. Frankly, I did a bunch of internships while I was at Stanford. Pretty much every person I met with at every big company wanted to talk about entrepreneurship. None of them love their jobs. That’s the honest truth. They want to talk about what I had done as an entrepreneur, which I thought was weird. It made me realize I’m not cut out for big companies.>>>
When you run a business over a long period of time, technology changes create massive challenges. When we spoke in 2016, CEO David Braun had navigated TemplateMonster through several of these. In 2019, David became a Member of Parliament in the Ukraine.
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 circumstances?
David Braun: I’m from Georgia – the former USSR country. I’ve lived there until I turned 11. In 1992, Russia initiated the war in Georgia. We were a very wealthy family. We had to drop everything we had – house, apartments, cars, and so on. We just moved in one day with just the clothes we were wearing. I still have my shorts in which I had to run away. That’s all we had to start.
Sramana Mitra: How much seed funding did you get?
Nitesh Chawla: I don’t remember, but it was enough to pay salaries for multiple individuals.
Sramana Mitra: Like in the hundreds of thousands?>>>
Erik Allebest: In 1998, my Chess Club President friend said, “Let’s build a website together.” He built a platform for me to sell Chess equipment online. It became known as Wholesale Chess. It became the largest chess retailer online. This was before Amazon. I sold the business of teaching and moved to e-commerce. I did that for many years. I became tired of doing that.
My wife was urging me to do something else. She applied to business school for me and got me to Stanford. I sold the equipment business and ended up in Stanford where I was very underqualified to be there from an education standpoint.>>>
The global NAND Flash Memory market is expected to grow from $18.5 billion in 2020 at 22% CAGR to $74.3 billion market by the end of 2027. Mountain View-based Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG) recently reported its quarterly results that continued to outpace market expectations.>>>
Sramana Mitra: What you’re describing is the journey of a lot of techies into entrepreneurship as well. It’s not about technology looking for a problem to solve. It’s about identifying the problem and then figuring out how to solve that problem using technology. In AI, this is a major issue.
Nitesh Chawla: It truly is.
Sramana Mitra: This is why domain knowledge is important. It’s very difficult for AI experts to come up with a problem to solve. They know the technology side of it. They don’t really know what the problems are. We’re seeing this massive interest in the AI segment now for people who have domain expertise.>>>
Solo entrepreneurs get a bad rap, but they’re kicking ass out there!
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?
Erik Allebest: I was born in Southern California. I was born to an entrepreneurial family. My dad was an entrepreneur. My mom had many varied interests. She gets credit for teaching me how to play chess at eight. I’m too young to remember the story, but she taught me how the pieces moved. We proceeded to play one game of chess together and she never played with me again. That’s the lore she likes to tell.>>>