Interview with Martin Herman, founder/CEO of Powerful Digital & Powerful Medical & Bethereum by Michal Tomek
It all started in his teenage years. A lot of it started. When traveling home from a holiday with his parents, Martin saw an ad for a mobile app dev course. He called in, applied, attended, and embraced software development fully. With such foundations, he started to move fast in his career and founded several businesses while dreaming of building vertical farms one day.
The air of Silicon Valley
At age of 18, Martin co-founded a geo-localization startup called Droppie. He got an opportunity to spend a year in California as they were launching the service throughout campuses in San Diego and other cities. He could soak in the Silicon Valley atmosphere, the feeling of success and loss at the same time, and he learned a lot. If there is an opportunity, you definitely should grab it is a philosophy Martin lives by.
„Silicon Valley is so fast-growing because it is difficult to get in. You have two options – either you go big, or you go home. There is no third way in the startup world. If you are weak, you go home. I have experienced it myself.”
One of the mentors he could watch closely every day was Mr. Anton Zajac, co-founder of ESET, a Slovak security software developer and one of the first Slovak companies successful globally. Anton Zajac launched its North American branch.
„Being 18, having a chance to spend a year in Silicon Valley while working alongside Mr. Zajac? That is like a dream. Just being there physically, breathing the air and seeing their way of thinking gave me a lot.” Martin loves getting challenged by opponents. Mr. Zajac was one of the best. „Here, in the Campus community, there are also many people who challenge me.”
Disrupting the betting industry
After coming back from the US, Martin started a software development studio POWERFUL DIGITAL, followed by a healthcare startup POWERFUL MEDICAL, focusing on creating AI and machine learning solutions in the medical industry. Today, at the age of 21, he employs around 25 people and runs several companies, the most recent of which is a blockchain based betting platform Bethereum.
Bringing a peer-to-peer element to the betting industry, Bethereum makes the whole process more transparent, secure and automated thanks to the blockchain technology. „Bethereum is a social betting platform powered by blockchain. Instead of betting for euros, dollars or any other fiat currency, you bet for crypto. With Bethereum, you don’t bet against a betting agency or a bookmaker. Instead, you create a bet, people from around the world can join it, and you bet against them.”
The most exciting part, though, is that Bethereum would most probably have not seen the light of day if it wasn’t for Campus. “My Bethereum co-founders wanted to develop a hobby app, and Dušan (Campus co-founder) knew my work and suggested me. We started to talk, and I joined them as a partner. With just my renter’s contract signed, I could already feel the value of the community.”
Higher prices thanks to the space
Martin was one of the first renters in Campus. It was around the time when Campus was only walls and floors that Martin started heavily considering renting an office. Although he has understanding and supportive parents who allowed him and his team of a few developers to work from their house’s basement, after some time it became unbearable. „We worked until 3 AM, and while my parents were asleep, we used to go to the kitchen for food in the fridge. There was noise, and there was a mess.“
He was aware of the difficulties and everyday challenges of running an office on your own – from dirty dishes through missing toilet papers up to high costs. That option was a no-go. Having already seen the Campus floor plan and the outside of the building, he knew what the space was going to look like. More importantly, he knew the value of a high-quality and beautifully designed space.
Martin’s age was a problem for many. Fortunately, he brought a salesmanship mindset from the US. “I knew that if I invited a potential client for a meeting at a cafe, I could not set the price high. Once I bring him to the flashy building like this one, to a nicely designed co-working space where no one can tell which people are freelancers and which work for me, into a meeting room with full service, then I can discuss the price on another level and work on much more compelling projects. You can decide to hire a biz dev person, or you can rent a top-notch space that will do that for you. Campus has done it for me.”
A story of a developer
Of course, it’s not merely about beautiful design, service and meeting rooms. The community of Campus plays a massive role in Martin’s entrepreneurial life. Apart from his Bethereum co-founders, he also met another business partner in Campus. Initially, a hard-working student.
„There was a student, Timo, sitting there every day until deep night. I only had a few people in the office at that point. After a month or two, meeting him every night, I asked him what he was working on. It was an AI solution for a game. I needed some people for the team, so I invited him to join us in the office for two months as a trial.”
After the first month, Martin offered him a full-time job in the POWERFUL MEDICAL team. Fast forward another year, Timo works on a lot of challenging tasks and is given an offer to become a partner in Martin’s other company, POWERFUL AI. This is what Martin calls a great example of how the community should work and cooperate.
„It might come out as too harsh, but I would go with a trial period not only in the business but in a community too. There should be a synergy between you and the community. If it’s lacking, you might try it somewhere else. It does not mean you are not good at what you do. Only, you do not fit into the community we are building."
The word-of-mouth helped Martin a lot. The fact that people knew he was in Campus and what he was doing has been a great premise for the businesses to start growing. “Among the 150 people, there is always someone who will help you. I just storm in to the open space, shout out if there is a developer, and ask him if he has time to help.”
Over the course of two years, Martin has helped numerous Campus members, and he received help from many as well. „I alone am not as smart as the network I have around in Campus. I soak in everything people are talking about, I speak to them, and, thus, can get the global sentiment in certain areas. That helps a lot in my decision-making.“
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