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Jon Nordmark Builds Iterate.ai As Digital Transformation Accelerator

Jon Nordmark Builds Iterate.ai As Digital Transformation Accelerator
Written by Publishing Team

When former hockey player and bag e-commerce pioneer John Nordmark was hired as a board member of the Eastern European Accelerator, he had no idea the journey would lead to the development of an AI-powered innovation software ecosystem and digital transformation accelerator for big companies called Iterate. .ai.

Nordmark, CEO of the company, co-founded the business with fellow board member and now CTO Brian Sathianathan in 2013. “The way we got started was my co-founder Brian and I were invited to join the board of an accelerator based in Ukraine, sort of Techstars in Eastern Europe. It was funded by the second richest person in Ukraine, who wanted young entrepreneurs in Eastern Europe to learn how Western entrepreneurs work, and how to start a company as you do in Silicon Valley,” says Nordmark.

Of the 400 or so companies that entered through the Kiev programme, based in Ukraine every six months, 10 were selected by the board of directors to proceed with the acceleration programme. Next, Nordmark and Satnathan spend time with them teaching them how to create an investor presentation, refining their market reach strategies, and how to raise money.

“This was really the beginning of Iterate because we saw these amazingly smart people from Moscow, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus trying to really build these technical capabilities. They were living at home. They were probably 30 years old. But the thing that kind of surprised us is that 36% of the people in Ukraine goes to school for an art degree for 6% in America. They have people who are highly tech and have a love for this, but the governments over there are very repressive. We look at these guys and they think that if they grew up in New York or Denver or San Francisco, They’d have great jobs. But they couldn’t even leave their parents’ homes. Brian and I said, “Oh my God, the world is flat.” The world has changed from capital being a barrier to a startup getting into minds. Smart people can be found all over the world ‘ says Nordmark.

This gave the couple the idea to search for these hidden gems and pair them with large organizations that often struggle to innovate from within. They built a highly specialized search engine to locate those startups, and the company (then called Iterate Studio) took off when Eneco Netherlands asked Nordmark and the company to find 1,300 startups in 10 categories like Deep Learning, Energy Distribution, and Smart Cities.

“We started searching on Google to try and find them, and we were only finding a handful of companies that Brian said, ‘Oh my God, we need to find our own. We’ll build a way to collect all of this information ourselves using our own technology, put it into our database, and then write our own search engine to try and expose these companies to this energy organization. And so, we did it as part of this project. We were able to find 1,300 companies in these 10 spaces,” says Nordmark

By 2015, the company changed its name to Iterate.ai to emphasize its ability to regulate AI-driven. The platform indexed startups by categories and provided a way to rank startups based on their capabilities. By pairing these startups with large organizations, they have created a new way to help companies overcome seemingly intractable challenges. Today, the service has identified about 15 million startups in its database.

The second stage of business development for “middleware” software to automatically and easily connect legacy systems with new, innovative software emerged when they discovered the challenges large companies face when trying to integrate new technologies. “We will identify these companies that people have to work with, and a lot of times the big organization is so complex that a startup is not really a solution because it has to interact with a lot of other capabilities. So the second barrier to getting things done is that IT organizations Traditional has massive resources, but it’s dedicated to things like SAP or Oracle upgrades, just running the day-to-day business. They work with legacy packages and they’re very complex. It’s hard to integrate things into them. Plus, not many simply have the skills to run things like AI” , says Nordmark.

In 2017, they built the first version of a low-code microservices platform that plugged into legacy software stacks that the company claims speeds up software development by 10 times. “We believe we are the only development platform in the world that can run low-code in both a prototyping environment and transform the same code into a highly scalable enterprise environment. So, this layer of software becomes what modernizes legacy enterprise technology stacks,” says Nordmark. .

Today, the San Jose, California-based company has about 65 employees and is growing rapidly. “We’ve had 284% growth in the last three years. We’re in the Deloitte 500 list with the fastest growing. The great thing is that over 80% of that list is backed by venture capital or private equity. We’re doing it on our own, with no marketing. And that’s It means our product is unique, I think, and next year we’ll grow in the 62% range with what’s already booked through 2022,” says Nordmark. The company booted from the start without much outside investment, apart from some early angel investments.

Nordmark grew up in Westminster, Colorado, where most kids didn’t go to college. “My dad lost his job when I was a freshman in college. He came back when the guys kept their jobs forever. He was never really able to get back in again. I guess that scared me and I thought, ‘I’m not going to get into a situation where I might lose my job and not be able to find a new one.’” So, I just had to control my fate as much as I could,” Nordmark says.

He left home in high school to play hockey in the American Hockey League, considered the best junior hockey league in the United States. But leaving home at a young age meant he had to take charge of his life to get into high school. “I’ve always been somewhat of a beginner,” Nordmark says.

While professional hockey wasn’t in the cards for him, he joined baggage maker Samsonite after graduating from the University of Colorado, Boulder. “They didn’t hire me as a marketing person because I didn’t go to the right school,” Nordmark says. But he set foot in the door as a salesperson and two years later got his chance in marketing and quickly rose to a management position when his boss was fired, stepping up to replace him.

When e-commerce took off, he tried to convince the company to start an online division without success. So he decided to go it alone, and set up a company called eBags. “It ended up being a little bit more difficult than I originally thought. And it took longer to get there. But in the meantime, I thought back then and I still think about it and I have this belief that it will work if I keep it going. That’s how, I think, I’ve been my whole life,” Nordmark says. His hard work paid off when Samsonite later acquired the company for $105 million.

His belief in the power of hard work and teamwork goes back to the hockey days when his coach Jack Barzey assembled a group of players without a star among them and some who had been left out of other teams to work together to win a national championship. “It made me realize that if everyone plays their part, everyone cooperates well, helps each other and respects each other, you can win in these areas where you were never expected to win.” Nordmark says.

As for the future? “From a product perspective, my hope is that we can build products that make these advanced technologies easier and more secure. My hope is that iterations can make the world safer in ways that companies and organizations cannot reach themselves. I think if we can do that, the company will be great.” and successful,” concludes Nordmark.

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