Southeast alum entrepreneur makes inspiration his business on Global Entrepreneurs Week
Global Entrepreneurship Week is a multinational recognition to promote business via events and initiatives meant to create new ventures, with one such event being hosted by Southeast to hone in on ideas among students.
The event, held Nov. 15, featured three ideas presented by different groups in Glenn Auditorium, and was topped off by a presentation by Southeast alumnus and co-founder of SwiftStack Anders Tjernlund.
The first student presentation was a proposal entitled the Mural Project. These students giving the presentation said the issue was that the university had an “identity problem” and there is not much to bring the students together. The two students noted how art had a tendency to bring people together. Students hoped to add the mural to the gray wall by the power plant as a way of beautifying the university.
The second presentation involved the idea of students partnering with professors as part of a study program. This program involved creating a project database through which students could gain experiences on studies for specific topics.
Student Isaac Nash presented a proposal he called “Cape-Ability,” which suggested renaming Counseling and Disability Services something more positive that would reflect support for those in need. Nash has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and would like to make things better around campus for those affected by mental illnesses. He also suggested the use of an app on which students could communicate and work together to talk out their feelings.
Anders Tjernlund is also the Chief Operating Officer of SwiftStack, a data storage company with customers like DreamWorks, eBay and Verizon, among many more. The date of this Global Entrepreneurship Week event was the six-year anniversary of his company’s founding.
Tjernlund, originally from Sweden, began at Southeast studying computer science. His marketing classes made him catch what he called the “marketing bug.” He said he got a job after graduation in an entry-level position performing inside sales at Hewlett-Packard.
Tjernlund said though he always found himself to be more of an introvert, this job helped him to understand dealing with customers and meeting their wants and needs. Eventually, he said he wanted to start something new, while staying within the company for which he had been working.
He would be recruited to start a venture business within Hewlett-Packard, which he said was the first step toward starting something new. Some startups he attempted, Tjernlund said, were more successful than others, but all were learning experiences.
His project, Tjernlund said, was recruited by a venture capital firm. He described the process as being hired by such a firm for a period of time to start a company via their resources. By using the name of the venture capital firm, Tjernlund said he was able to make more connections with prospective clients that recognized it.
The problem statement the company was founded upon was the amount of data that has been created in the United States. According to Tjernlund, 2.6 million gigabytes of data is created in the U.S. every minute. Ninety percent of the data has been created in the last two years.
One of the target customers of SwiftStack is film production companies. With all the information involved in the many scenes filmed and the various cuts made, there is a lot that goes into compiling a film, Tjernlund said, and that requires a lot of storage space.
By providing a format for the storage of all of this excess footage, SwiftStack serves the film industry in long-term production. Another facet of that, Tjernlund said, was in animation, in which all the background data can be stored to make production easier.
According to Tjernlund, other uses for the cloud storage are video gaming and medicine, the use he said he was most excited about. This use, he said, involved scientists’ ability to research and download information from a human genome so they can precisely prescribe and gauge the needs of patients. These projects require a lot of data storage because of the complexity and vastness of the human genome.
Tjernlund launched his company with a group that involved three other friends and a garage. By zeroing in on a specific purpose for a company he was not very knowledgeable about beforehand, Tjernlund said they managed to rise up among the larger competition.
“‘More companies have died from indigestion than starvation,’” he quoted Bill Hewlett in saying.
In order for a company to have success, it needs to find what its main purpose is and grow from there. For more information on Tjernlund or Swiftstack, visit their website, swiftstack.com.