We can read more and more about the significance of premium products and services, but few articles mention that there are different ‘levels of premium’. We can say that the top category of premium is comprised of services related to ‘unique expertise’. In addition to other topics, we have asked IT technology strategist Tamás Földi, the CEO of Starschema, about premium services.
It might be an unusual question, but a lot of people mistakenly think that dreaming up premium services is easiest for those with privileged upbringings. What do you think of this?
If that were the case, you wouldn’t be interviewing me about the topic of ‘unique expertise’. My example demonstrates how your childhood environment cannot keep you from reaching your dreams. I grew up in a small, 46-m2 apartment in a housing project, and even though I’ve been an IT enthusiast since I can remember, my family couldn’t afford to support this hobby financially.
Starschema’s name, and your name, are known across the globe, which is directly tied to this success story. How does it feel?
This is not entirely true. In fact, for the professional elite in my specific field, my current title is just the next step in my career that started early and rather intensively.
What is there to know about the professional path of the young Tamás Földi?
Well, just to mention the most important stages: in 2001 I was a 21-year-old rookie IT specialist, and already a member of the high-performance computing team at Compaq/HP, working for key clients such as CERN or even the U.S. Department of Defense. Not long after that, I was working on memory and processor development with an Italian team of engineers specialising in semiconductor testing. We developed our own BI tool, the BarieMAT, in our own programming language, using our own visualisation tools. In the context of the IT knowledge of the time, this was a great professional achievement for the team and myself.
What are you known for in professional circles?
I have the title CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), which means I can deal with projects of major professional significance. I am also a Tableau Zen Master, which is a title that is held by only 30 people across the globe at the moment, and which is the highest recognition one could get in the field of data visualisation. Of course, Starschema also brings me a lot of professional attention, as I am part of the process in which an Eastern-European start-up recognised by the international professional elite is built to the level where you can’t call it a start-up anymore. Serious businessmen use our solutions in their companies; our clientele includes Apple, Netflix, and Facebook, just to mention a few significant players in the field. The fact that we can contribute to the growth of their businesses from the IT side is an even bigger achievement for me.
I feel this is the right time to ask you the following question. We could hear and read a lot about another significant capital investment being offered to Starschema. We know that you are successful, but few know what exactly is the knowledge that makes you stand out in the world of big data.
We are currently in the process of building our new international strategy, and I’ve been to several specialised workshops in connection with this. One of the main subjects of these was that everyone wants to be the best at what they do every day, but it is hard to see from the inside what actually makes us special in the eyes of our clients. For me, the explanation is obviously the depth of professional knowledge, but from the aspect of business strategy, the situation is different. This is exactly what the strategic team supporting us pointed out. There are significant changes happening on the IT market right now. The main trend is that trendy, fancy start-ups are way ahead of big corporations technologically. Giant international organisations cannot react fast enough to the amazing innovations on the market. Due to this, the role of big, traditional IT companies is constantly losing significance. We are asked more and more frequently to consult corporations on how and what current start-up innovations they should use to develop their business, using our big data expertise and our actual, practical experience with start-ups.
So, they more or less get a development plan based on trend analyses from you?
That is part of our consulting activity, which is lead by me. These are casual meetings, an exchange of information, but we would definitely like to go in this direction in the future. There is great demand for it, and we have the right expertise and reputation. This is actually the consulting part of an IT technological strategy, which is a brand-new field even on the international level.
I see. So, is it partly due to this that your family is moving to the USA at the end of August?
Yes. Starschema has a prestigious clientele, who assign their most special projects of key importance to us. But I would like to move forward and show them the entire portfolio of the company, which would mean stepping to the next level for us, in terms of reputation as well as business results. But this has to be done in person. I will still visit Hungary frequently, as our HQ and the employees working there are very important to me.
We can safely say, then, that Starschema, together with you, is stepping up a level. A lot of start-ups can get to the level of a standard company, but only a few achieve a truly international presence. What do you have to pay attention to during this process?
First of all, you have to work on the strategy with real experts. Experts who haven’t just heard of the USA and have maybe analysed it before, but who actually lived there. And to enter the market effectively, you also have to know the typical features of Hungary and the way Hungarians are viewed in the target locale. These two kinds of knowledge are essential for building strategy, and it is difficult to find them in the same place. And then there’s the all-time favourite: sales, of course. After all, the goal is to sell, and you need a perfectly US-oriented sales strategy incorporating Hungarian features for that.
If we interview you again in a year, what will you need to have accomplished by then to be able to answer us as a satisfied Tamás Földi?
I will be satisfied if I will be able to say that we not only managed to get a foothold in the overseas market, but we are treated as a serious IT partner, even by the biggest corporations.