Michael Rumiancau is the CEO and founder of FriendlyData, an innovative cloud computing company that introduced a pioneering cloud-based NLP (natural language processing) solution for databases, destined to bridge the communication gap between humans and machines. Michael was born and raised in Belarus. After launching the FriendlyData startup, he moved to New York and then to San Francisco. He is an entrepreneur with a strong technical background. Before founding FriendlyData, as a member of several development teams, he built a lot of successful software products. He is also the author and contributor of growing Open Source projects. FriendlyData helps businesses make data accessible for non-technical people by providing a natural language interface for databases. Now Michael’s ultimate goal is to build a solution for any data source to make data accessible to everyone.
How did you get into the industry?
As an engineer I started working for software development companies. I was often interacting with European and American clients and suddenly found myself reading business literature, getting in touch with entrepreneurs from different fields and attending every tech conference I could- all of this helped me get a better understanding of how IT businesses work. I just felt I needed to go for it! So a year ago we went all in and founded FriendlyData.
Any emerging industry trends?
I would say API solutions are a growing trend- They provide more flexibility for customers and allow to launch some functionalities faster and even without having in house expertise. Definitely think we'll see more and more API´s out there.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
I believe natural language interfaces are going to be mandatory for sophisticated applications in the next few years. One of the advantages of using NLP in businesses is that not tech people can be way more efficient. NLP solutions are bridging the communication gap between humans and machines, basically they're making data accessible for anyone.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
After many years of building complex application for different businesses, we got to spend a lot of time with customers and started understanding where they were coming from. We kept noticing that non-technical people struggled with dara because there were no convenient and easy to use interfaces. This is why we came up with the idea of FriendlyData – the cloud solution, which allows businesses to provide instant natural language interaction with data for their clients or employees.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are implementing a SaaS solution that will allow us to cover a wider market. At the same time, we are working to improve our core product in order to provide an even better service for our enterprise customers.
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Success comes with the right people, so the best initiative I can think of is putting together a great team and finding the right partners. Finding the right people isn’t that easy though. By the ‘right’ people I mean those whose individual goals are aligned with those of the company. Put some extra effort into finding the right people - high spirited and with entrepreneurial mindset - and you will be able to produce world class results! And our team is a perfect example: our common goal along with the team’s cohesion and unity has always been our main source of ideas and inspiration, which allows us to grow quickly.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
Difficult moment for us was last winter, when we were counting on receiving money from a VC but we stuck in negotiations. As we realized later this delay happened because the VC had difficulty with raising money for their fund. This distraction negatively affected our dynamic and we decided to move forward and postpone our fundraising. And what we learned is that a) you should never count on anything or anyone until you actually see the funds in your bank account and b) what is maybe even more important - rather than depending on investments to drive growth, it’s best to concentrate on developing your business with your own efforts.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
Working with FriendlyData it’s like talking to a friend or a colleague – just ask a question and get the answer you were looking for. FriendlyData makes dealing with databases as natural as it can be. Even non-techie people can interact with complex databases, without any special NLP or data science expertise.
Imagine having a complex analytical task completed in just a few seconds by asking your database a question, something like ‘Show me all health technology companies located in NYC, LA or in the Bay Area with 50 to 1000 employees that have raised funding in the last six months.’ How long do you think it would take you or your colleague to process this task? Hours, perhaps even days? FriendlyData will do it instantly.
How do you motivate others?
I try my best to lead by example, to show how commitment and hard work can take you far. I really believe in encouraging others to grow as individuals and not being afraid of making mistakes!
Career advice to those in your industry?
Don't lose sight trying to raise money (of course is important) but don't forget the real goal is to build your company. Focus on customers, not investors, because your customers are the key to economic independence.