Back in school, Sydney, Australia, I always dreamt of working in Silicon Valley. Amongst the elite. Silicon Valley, the place made of dreams, where the elite breath and feed on the energy & spirit of the computer world. The place where one could connect with amazing intellect, rub it off on self and go and make a difference in other people’s life by doing something amazing in this space.
That day became a reality early 2009. After having a strategic meeting with the founder of the company where I served as the CTO, I was moving to Silicon Valley to run an International Engineering team in the headoffice located in Mountain View
First, a bit about my role as the CTO of this fast leading company. There I learnt HEAPS! which allowed me to move fast and establish the IT department from the ground up, built in-house data centre, developed systems to manage operations and productivity, helped the founder market the company at industry marketing shows (ADMA) around Australia, implemented & expanded US patented coupon technology for the Australian & United Kingdom market and helped grow the company. We were now serving an European market working with our partner parent firm in Mountain View, CA. It made perfect business sense at the time to align the Engineering in Mountain View office establishing an International Engineering team (which I currently run) and move the rest of operations & sales to our United Kingdom office. And so we did.
Along the way I created this blog to share with anyone interested in going through what I did to learn from my mistakes so they don’t have to make them. I am currently based in Mountain View, Silicon Valley. Same city where Googleplex, Mozilla, Hewlett-Packard, Verisign, Symantec and a host of other cool computer companies are located. So my childhood dream came true.
My professional background
For the past 11 years I have been involved in both corporate and start-up environments with experience in 2 major dynamic web platform stacks WISA & LAMP. After my corporate stint at AMP, I played a pivotal role as the 1st employee of Couponstar being involved in every aspect of strategic, operational, technical & engineering roles of this fast leading-edge company. With time, we expanded operations & sales into Europe and an office in London servicing the Euro market. Later we closed the Sydney office and moved Engineering to parent company Coupons, Inc. (in Mountain View, CA) where for the past 2 years I’ve been building products & services including a team to support the International efforts of Couponstar. Initially this was to be a 2 year away from home adventure but the high tech Silicon Valley start-up culture, way of life & entrepreneurship bug bit me and I’m going to be here for longer to add value and contribute to the community.
I (Ernest Semerda) see myself as:
- Leading – built and lead high-caliber teams in a start-up environment in Sydney later in Silicon Valley (currently located). Where I cultivated a fun work culture and processes that enabled fast paced learning, development, measuring, and iterations.
- Building – built international & local online products servicing European and Australian markets. Attaining hands on experience with platforms, frameworks and languages such as .NET C#, VB, PHP (inc. model–view–controller Zend & CodeIgniter architectural patterns) and Python on Linux servers, clusters of MySQL, MongoDB & SQL Server database servers and scaling system’s thru Cloud Computing services like Amazon’s S3 & Akamai.
- Improvement – I enjoy finding patterns from tools like Google Analytics, R, WebAnt (my former analytics company) to understand user behavior, what works online and what doesn’t and it’s application to building financially sustainable & rewarding online presence.
- Innovation – Without innovation there is no growth. Engineering is like art. It needs the right amount of creativity and ink to create a masterpiece. My 2nd blog http://ernestblog.com is a reflection of this drive for personal development, productivity & innovation.
All in all, I enjoy 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
My entrepreneurial life in Australia
Since I never stop I also love tinkering and bringing ideas into reality. Its why you will always find me at Hacker Dojo tinkering and hacking at life’s problems to find elegant solutions. Seeing that idea come to life is amazing. The energy, thrill, excitement and daily challenges faced in order to bring an idea into reality 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.”.
Here a short history of my Australian startups:
- 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.
Finally, I enjoying delving into self experiments in personal development, productivity & inner peace. All my journies are documented in detail on my personal blog here: http://ernestblog.com
I hold 2 degrees. 1st is a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from UWS and 2nd an Executive MBA from Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM). The computer science degree gave me great insight into the computer world but I wanted to see its real business application. Thus the MBA provided this insight. Currently I am mastering my skills in Public Speaking through a group called MethodSpeaking and Toastmasters.
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 presence of the moment (Eckhart_Tolle teachings) and 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.
So let’s get crackin!