Dusan Vitek is the CEO and co-founder of Portadi, a team cloud access manager allowing companies to manage and monitor access to personal and team online accounts. Prior to starting Portadi, Dusan was a founder and CEO of Advico Media, a boutique PR agency serving high-tech and healthcare companies.
Later on Dusan held a position of VP of Marketing at Kerio where he helped establish Kerio’s worldwide presence, develop its marketing and communications strategy, build its marketing team, and build the foundation for Kerio’s award-winning channel partner program.
He also led new product launches including enterprise collaboration SaaS offering Samepage.io and was a technology startup mentor to teams at Wayra CEE and StartupYard.
Magazine MN caught up with Dusan to talk about his entrepreneurial journey, lessons learned and find out more about Portadi.
Magazine MN: Dusan, tell us a bit about your background. How did you start your entrepreneurial journey?
Dusan: I founded my first company, a design studio, when I was still in college. We ran it for about two years and eventually got acquired by a bigger advertising agency.
Magazine MN: What are the 3 greatest business lessons you’ve learnt so far?
Challenge your assumptions
Plans are worthless, planning is everything
Magazine MN: How do you keep yourself motivated and productive?
Dusan: Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson published an excellent book called Rework. There’s a chapter in it called “Long lists don’t get done”. I keep short lists.
Magazine MN: What advice would you give to the first-time entrepreneur who plans to build a startup?
Dusan: Make sure you have enough runway to build your company. Everything takes longer than you think. To build your MVP will take longer. Market validation will take longer. Your first major customer win will take longer.
Gil Penchina, one of the well-known angel investors in Silicon Valley, once said, ”Anything that two guys can’t do in 12 weeks at Y Combinator, I am a fan of”. The expectations of startups are pretty high now, and it takes time to build something substantial.
Magazine MN: Tell us a bit about Portadi. How does it work?
Dusan: When you join a progressive company today, you’ll work in the cloud. Your help desk, CRM, video, big data, HR, delivery services, travel bookings – all of these will be provided by a third party SaaS vendor. We’re talking about dozens of systems to manage. It gets pretty crazy quickly. Solving this madness is the starting point for Portadi.
As an employee, I see Portadi as my personal access panel - always in my browser, all accounts with one click login – that improves my productivity.
As a manager, I get to see who got access to what – someone leaves and I know exactly which accounts to transfer or cancel or disable - that gives me security.
As a finance guy, I have a true picture of what we pay for and more importantly how efficiently this money is spent – I can understand the cloud costs and that gives me power.
Ultimately, Portadi aims to reinvent the cloud app management and put an end to Shadow IT. It’s not to steal the power from the progressive user, but to bring clarity into how we use the cloud in the workplace, which ultimately benefits everyone.
Magazine MN: What makes Portadi a game-changer and sets it apart from other team password tools?
Dusan: Portadi is a cloud access panel, not a password manager. We help people in the workplace get instant access to all of the accounts their company or team uses. We call it one-click login and it’s a variant of cloud single sign-on. As a user, you don’t know all of the login credentials, you only have access to your personal access panel and with one click to sign-in to any of your accounts. It’s an incredibly comfortable and liberating user experience.
As an industry, we have to departure from passwords. They are incredibly confusing to most users and that's why we end up with super weak passwords, which are a slap in the face to all of us in the IT security.
When you ask anyone how many accounts and passwords they have, the answer will be 5-10. In reality that number is about 10x bigger for most people, because we forget about accounts we use once a year. If you require strong and complex passwords, periodic password rotation and multi-factor authentication for each one of them, you force people to use a password manager of some kind and you will make the user experience pretty terrible. Especially if all someone wants to do is to read an online newspaper.
Magazine MN: What’s your target market?
Dusan: We target workplace teams. As the product matures we are seeing growing interest coming from the enterprise market, but one of the key objectives for us is to keep the product simple – sadly, most enterprise software is incredibly complex due to feature creep. We aim to make Portadi synonymous with easy and friendly.
Magazine MN: Since most users are concerned about the security of their information, how can Portadi ensure that user passwords will not be accessed by 3rd parties?
Dusan: Security is absolutely critical to Portadi. Our team has 13+ years of network security experience. Our architecture is similar to other Identity and Access Management solutions on the market. We store all sensitive data encrypted using AES-256 on non-public servers. All communication between Portadi and your browser is encrypted using TLS. We have implemented two-factor authentication into Portadi and we use Google Authenticator to provide the second factor. Portadi runs in a secure data center accredited under SOC 1 and SOC 2/SSAE 16.
Magazine MN: Tell us a bit about Portadi team. How do you make decisions within the team?
Dusan: I co-founded Portadi with my friend Tomas Soukup. We’ve known one another for more than 13 years. We almost always reach consensus, and when we don’t, we just postpone the decision until later when we have more information.
Other than that, I let Tomas make the technology decisions. We have a pretty clear vision for the company so that makes decision making pretty easy. I’ll give you an example. When we plan features, we ask one another which feature will have the biggest positive impact on our customers in the shortest period of time. It’s important that customers get excited about something new or better - that makes our team happy too. We balance these short-term wins with our long-term goals.
Magazine MN: Recently, Portadi graduated from the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator in Berlin. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Dusan: At one point last year we felt it would be useful for us to go through an accelerator program. We were looking for a specific type of accelerator, the one with an enterprise tech focus. We looked at three, applied to all of them and eventually got accepted into the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.
It’s really important to understand what you want to get out of going through an accelerator. Is it money, validation, content, perks, board, access to investors, access to customers, community, alumni network…? There are a lot of things you can pursue. I think every entrepreneur should do some due diligence before applying. Talk to alumni, see if what you are after is achievable.
We really enjoyed the mentor network that Microsoft has. We stayed in contact with the mentors we met through the accelerator: Jochen Hummel and Stefan Jorgensen. Both are founders themselves and both are fantastic.
Magazine MN: How can potential customers or partners get in touch with you?
Dusan: Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are reading every single one of them and try to respond to all of them.
Dusan Vitek was interviewed by Natalie Myhalnytska