Take it from a man who has been through highs and lows and has built an amazing company in a constantly changing environment: if you can keep your entrepreneurial spirit alive, innovation will follow! Teodor Ceausu, IXIA Country Manager, tells the story of going from startup to having your company acquired and then building your team to over 400 people. His story about being an entrepreneur and keeping that mindset even in a mature company is inspiring and motivating.
Here’s the entire interview:
1. We know you joined IXIA after your startup got acquired by the company. Please tell us more about this – what did your startup do, how did things go from the moment you decided to create your own company until the moment it got acquired? How was your further experience with IXIA up to the moment you became country manager?
Back in 2004, before being acquired by Ixia, we were G3 Nova, a rather small company of 30 working on a VoIP protocol testing solution. We were rather strong, although economic conditions were harsh around us. I think the fact that we were passionate about what we were doing actually made many of our sleepless nights almost bearable. Once we entered the multinational family of Ixia, things became somehow easier and resources handier. Paradoxically, it wasn’t easy for us to adapt from fighting every day for survival to fighting every day for ever higher performances – the mindset was different. Nevertheless, we were a strong team and we stayed together. Moreover, we understood we had to start anew, somehow, and to re-build a different company. In one year we grew to almost 100, and then in 2010, when I took over as country manager, we surpassed 200 people. Now we are over 400 and growing even further.
2. How did IXIA become involved in How to Web and Startup Spotlight? Why does this partnership make sense for IXIA?
Actually, we somehow tested the idea of such a competition in 2011, when we organized an Ixia Business Plan Contest for students for the same prize of 20.000 USD. It went well, but we knew there must be more than that, that we could do more, that we could stimulate even more potential. And in 2012, Bogdan Iordache inspired me and my team to collaborate and bring the competition under the umbrella of How to Web. And that was one of the decisions I am most proud of. Bogdan’s passion and organization skills proved to be amazing, and the competition was a true success – startups that received prizes went further and got even more financing for developing their ideas into applications that are now available to everybody. And we strongly believe that the 2013 edition is going to be even better.
We believe in Startup Spotlight because it gives us the opportunity to help engineers take their idea from code to market and to discover the entrepreneur within. And, as a company for which the entrepreneurial skills of each and every teammate are one of the main drivers for innovation, we are the first ones to invest in developing these skills in our young talents.
3. What startups do you see as a valuable investment opportunity? Which startups are you most interested in?
There is basically no differentiation, because innovation is everywhere. It’s the spirit that we’re encouraging, and it’s for the entrepreneur who takes the innovation out on the market that drives us in supporting startups in general. If we were to put our finger on something precise, we would go towards telecommunications, but only if we have to. 🙂
4. What do you think is the role that startups play in terms of innovation in the tech industry?
Simply put, startups are the manufacturers that take the innovation gems out of talented minds. And it’s innovation that makes the technology industry go forward.
5. Which vehicles do you think can better drive innovation and information exchange between bigger companies and startups?
A good event that puts together big companies as well as startups, programmers, mentors, and investors such as How to Web is definitely a great example of how innovation and entrepreneurship can be showcased and encouraged into communities, be they independent or corporate.
6. What are the hidden benefits of acquiring a startup or investing in a startup for a mature company?
There are two things, actually: a great team with entrepreneurial spirit and a valuable product. These two are definitely going to make any investor’s money worth spending on a startup with potential.
7. What’s it like to be a senior manager in a corporation vs. being an entrepreneur? What’s the thing you miss the most and the thing you miss the least about the entrepreneurial life?
There are times when making decisions as freely as I used to don’t seem ever possible. Nevertheless, a company as experienced and as respected as Ixia can always back your decision up when needed, and thus minimizing the possibility of going bad. It can also give tremendous feedback on our work and improve the outcome for the client, a most necessary filter less used in entrepreneurial endeavors.
We are proud to have IXIA as main partners again this year and we’re delighted to see that their commitment to supporting the startup community in the CEE is strong! Stay tuned for more inspiring stories.