I’m Ernest, a maker of many things. A software engineer with passion for solving business problems using technology/code. I left the beautiful Wollstonecraft (Sydney) back in 2009 for Silicon Valley (California) and have been here ever since I got the startup bug. I I ramble on Twitter so if you like what you see/read here please follow me: https://twitter.com/ernestsemerda or you can follow me on AngelList.
Here is my story arranged in a chronological order:
- In 2016 I cofounded a Y Combinator (YC W17) backed startup called Veryfi ~ with a mission to put a bookkeeper in your pocket by automating the boring parts of accounting.
In 2012 I cofounded a venture backed logistics and communication platform for non-/emergency medical services and hospitals called Medlert. Another way to think about it is; Uber for Ambulances.
Before that, I ran the International Engineering team at Quotient (formerly Coupons, Inc) Startup to IPO. Quotient acquired Couponstar Ltd in 2012 where I was the CTO & 1st employee of. We gave Quotient an International presence in Europe and Australia.
To get stuff done faster and be more productive I built a mobile GTD & Pomodoro app called GSDfaster. Get the app from iTunes while it’s FREE: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/gsdfaster-gtd-todo-lists-pomodoro/id488633128?mt=8
Apart from this blog I also help my OT (Occupational Therapy) wife with her blog Sensory Lifestyle : http://www.sensorylifestyle.com/ ~ if you have a baby/toddler then you will find wealth of information there from early development to sensory & motor development. Being involved helped me learn and be a better parent.
My prior Aussie life is mostly working for Australia’s largest financial services company (AMP Pty Ltd) where I took on many hats from Development to Architecture. I also ran Purpleblue Pty Ltd development house. We built WebAnt Analytics (before Google Analytics existed) to compete with the only player at the time Red Sheriff. Why Purpleblue? Remember what color the links in Web 1.0 were.. 😉 Old school right.
Few years ago in Australia I built a 500 HP race car. At the time I knew nothing about building cars. All I knew is I wanted a race track monster. And I achieved that goal. Building cars is very much like building startups. Here is an old page with some pics: http://semerda.com/200sx/
I have always enjoyed breaking down complex problems and delivering simple and elegant solutions. My continuous thirst for experience is the driver for making a difference.
More on my professional background can be found on my public profile at LinkedIn here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/semerda – if you want to connect please send me a message 1st.
Australia, pre 2009
I never stop. I love tinkering and bringing ideas into reality. Seeing ideas come to life is amazing. The energy, thrill, excitement and daily journey experienced in bringing an idea into life is simply amazing.
It’s true what Don Williams, Jr once said ~
“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”.
The startup space (as it’s often referred to today, 2015) is different then it was in 2009. There were no startup spaces, accelerators, incubators or angels willing to throw money into startups. This was no excuse to sit around tho. I was busy every weekend tinkering and building stuff. Here is a short list of projects I span up while in Australian before 2009:
- WebAnt Analytics – a quantitative service providing a holistic web analytics and customer metrics solutions that allows you to get inside the mind of your online audience. This also included the famous InSite module which could generate “phantom customers” for automation & monitoring. We used a lot of interesting models I learnt during the course of my MBA studies to provide a unique selling proposition and differentiate ourself from our only competitor on the Australian market (at the time), Red Sheriff. And then came free Google Analytics (Urchin) and the show was over. To read more click here.
- Ramify – a company that provided tools and objective ratings of unit trust funds and Unit Trust Fund Management Companies using both quantitative and qualitative data. It was to be a valuable service to the Unit Trust Funds industry participants including retail and institutional investors, financial planners, agents, banks, Unit Trust Management Companies, regulators, etc. This one took me to Malaysia, presentations to board members of RAM (Rating Agency Malaysia Berhad) and dinners with CEOs of financial banks. To read more click here.
- RockinTheShed – A weekly 2 hour Rock and Alternative radio station show delivering sounds from local and international artists blended with current news and happenings in the Rock and Alternative arena. The show played across 12 radio stations geographically in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and USA. We got to meeting & interview many interesting & famous bands and expand our broadcasting range. My band photography business span off from this venture. To read more click here.
- Musichouse – A music ecosystem compromising of an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) for artists & producers with exclusive access to online & offline (radio) broadcasting channels via RockinTheShed. We developed a number of monetization models to appeal to our target market. RockinTheShed served as an initial hook to get leverage for Musichouse. We had a great team of smart entrepreneurs like Dave Manna (Sydney’s top Music Producer), Artur (RockinTheShed host) and Denis who is today the co-founder of embedster.com (Y Combinator 2010 Alumni). To read more click here.
To get educated, I am a big fan of schooling. Schooling, especially early on provides foundations for greatness in life. Without foundations no house would stand tall and strong. People refer to the education system as broken. I somewhat agree since we all learn at a different pace. But that’s no excuse for not getting it. Education is building on top of previous foundations and is a life long journey.
I started with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science from UWS and then followed it up with an Executive MBA from Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). The computer science degree gave me insight into software development, algorithms and problem solving. Tick. Now I could break complex problems into smaller pieces and solve problems using code. Later I realized some problems need a different set of skills. More business focused skills like like communication, sales, customer focus, relationship building etc. Hence the MBA filled in those horizontal gaps across many business verticals.
While in the US, I also pursued to master my skills in Public Speaking through a group called MethodSpeaking and Toastmasters. Best time & money ever spent. I recommend you take this journey. Public speaking is scary at first but once you practiced and see it’s value you will value it. The world has changed since 2009. Today there is a vast number of online educational services that can keep you busy for hours if not years. I found value in doing Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) ran by Stanford University online and Disciplined Entrepreneurship ran by Bill Aulet on edX. Especially the latter for those entrepreneurial minded. If you can’t do the course at least get the book and learn the 24 Steps to a Successful Startup.
It’s never good enough
I live by the motto that it’s never good enough. I know I can be more, have more and experience more. This bigger thinking allows me to climb mountains. Each day cannot go to waste because that day cannot be taken back. All I need to do is live in the present moment, just like Eckhart_Tolle tough me. This way I can enjoy every opportunity and experience that comes my way. I always ask myself, “what have I learnt today”… and make sure I have an answer else I know it’s time for a change again. Never let a day go by lifeless or meaningless. Each day is precious.
The Road to Silicon Valley
Now you know a bit about me. I would love to know a bit about you too.
Please use this blog’s comment fields below to share your experience or just to say hello. All constructive comments are welcomed and I will always take the opportunity to reply to each one.
If you want to connect offline for a coffee at red rock send me an email to ernest at semerda dot com.
So let’s get crackin!