Tomas Gorny remembers the moment he found his passion.
“My pivotal moment came when I was 16 and DOS transitioned to Microsoft,” says the co-founder and CEO of Arizona-based Unitedweb and Nextiva. “You went from typing long command lines to a graphical interface. I was already programming back then and I found it so fascinating that I said, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’ I want to make technology simpler to use for people.”
That epiphany moment happened before Gorny left his native Poland to chase the American dream. Since arriving in the United States, Gorny used his incredible mind and a credit card to launch IPOWER, a web hosting company, which he eventually sold in 2011 for nearly $1 billion.
Today, Gorny’s passion is Scottsdale-based Nextiva, a cloud-based business communication firm he founded in 2006. Today, Nextiva has annual revenue that exceeds $100 million and more than 150,000 customers from around the world. And in a rare move in the tech space: Nextiva is privately owned with no outside investors.
Az Business talked with Gorny about whether or not there is a special sauce for success in the tech world.
Az Business: It’s incredibly difficult to create one successful company. How have you been able to repeat your success with Nextiva?
Tomas Gorny: I don’t know if there is any secret to success. It’s more a philosophy of how I personally participate in business. How I look at businesses is by looking at the market, identifying gaps in the market and seeing if there are ways to fill that gap with a product. Then, you need to create a product that is relevant that people will pay for. When you do that, good things will happen. Making money is just a side-effect of providing value.
AB: What has been the key to Nextiva’s rapid growth?
TG: At the beginning of a business, you’re doing it all alone. You’re wearing all of the hats. But ultimately, as the business grows, the success of a business comes down to great people. I know it’s a cliche to say surround yourself with people who are better than you are, but it’s true. Knowing where my strengths are, focusing on those strengths and finding people who have strengths in other areas is a key to growing a successful company. Your last team should always be your best team because you need to learn from your mistakes along the way.
AB: What is it about your leadership style that has helped your companies become so successful?
TG: You have to be true to yourself and do what you do best. I couldn’t run every business. There are things I couldn’t do. If you look at athletes, a great basketball player isn’t going to be the best football player. So I went into the technology business because I am passionate about that. That passion is a key element to success because I love what I do.