Dan Goman is an American entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Ateliere Creative Technologies, a software company targeted toward providing the post-production and OTT industries with ground-breaking innovations, from digital supply chain solutions to unique, customizable video apps.
Born in western Romania during the communist regime, Goman’s parents were university professors before they were fired from their positions for refusing to stop expressing their dissent at the government’s totalitarian activities and religious restrictions. After struggling to provide for Goman and his eight siblings, the family was granted political asylum by the United States and emigrated from Romania when he was seven years old.
Goman’s family settled first in Los Angeles and then Seattle. Goman learned English by watching American television shows. His interest in technology was sparked early in his life when his father purchased an old IBM computer and some floppy discs. He taught himself programming using the computer and later learned the challenges and rewards of owning a company when he assisted his parents with their copy and print center.
Goman worked at large companies such as AT&T, Microsoft, and Lucent Technologies, helping to advance their technology before starting Ateliere. He has worked with software companies across the United States, gaining technical knowledge that he put to use at Microsoft in different positions across various product teams and their Global IT organization as a network management specialist managing their entire network worldwide across all of their devices.
In 2009, Goman started his company Ateliere Creative Technologies as a content company focused on breaking the industry conventions of bundled linear content. A crucial aspect of his business model lay in his company owning the streaming technology used for its content delivery system. He and his research and development team of software and technology experts rapidly developed patent-pending technology in an industry that was relatively new but quickly growing. This success in technological innovations saw the company pivot from a content company to a service company providing supply chain solutions and innovative cloud-native technology.
Where did the idea for Ateliere Creative Technologies come from?
Initially, Ateliere Creative Technologies was founded to be a multi-platform streaming service that would aggregate SVOD (subscription video on demand) channels and offer them to consumers à la carte on a subscription basis. This was very much an anti-cable play, as in 2009, the core idea was that broadcast would transition to digital and streaming channels would explode. As the technology for digital services, such as supply chains, was nascent and expensive, we ran into many technology challenges during our development. Rather than wait for the technology to be developed elsewhere, we took the development of it into our own hands and decided to build our own. Our content partners took notice of how valuable and innovative the technology we had created was, and that demand initiated a pivot for our company to provide B2B services. Today, we are the world’s premiere media supply chain platform that is 100% cloud-native.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I don’t think there is a typical day for me. As CEO, my main jobs are problem-solving and ensuring the company runs smoothly, so what I do varies significantly on any given day. I often feel that too much of my time is spent in meetings and phone calls throughout the day. That is one thing that I can say happens with consistency — my plate becomes so full during the day that the only time I feel truly productive is super late at night when most things are quiet. During that time, I feel like I can actually think, so that is when I often take care of a significant amount of work items. In fact, I am writing this at 11:45 PM.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think Ateliere has been so successful because our team is very quickly able to bring ideas to life. I am a firm believer in quick iterations. Instead of spending an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to develop a perfect solution from day one, focus on getting something working. From there, you can iterate it to perfection, a process that you would ideally involve your customer in as well.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The advances in biohacking are super interesting to me. While there are various types and degrees of biohacking, I consider myself a “sensible biohacker” that combines extensive data collection with naturopathic remedies to achieve measurably optimal health and performance. This approach also includes incorporating genetic data into the overall data pool, enabling health-related decisions that have long-term impacts.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I care for my health by working out or trying out new naturopathic treatments. I find it critical for an entrepreneur to take their health seriously as an entrepreneurship lifestyle requires tremendous time and effort to be productive and successful. Over the last few years, I have dedicated time each week for IV vitamin therapy that replenishes my system with vitamins and minerals. This keeps my mind sharp and prepared to handle any new challenges. I also do cryotherapy, which gives my body the reset it needs to be productive. Lately, I’ve incorporated hyperbaric oxygen treatments, which have produced significant and immediate health benefits.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Probably to understand that things don’t happen overnight. When I was younger, I was so worried about trying to make things happen as fast as possible for myself. While a sense of urgency certainly can be an asset, I was constantly stressed, didn’t sleep well, and was overall less healthy than I am today. Things don’t happen overnight, and I think the old adage “slow and steady wins the race” is not only true, but it is also a much healthier mindset to adopt as early in life as possible.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That apple cider vinegar is good for your health, and people should drink it daily. Most would disagree with this statement because of the vinegar’s potent smell, which makes it seem almost impossible to drink straight up. While it may be hard to believe, it does wonders for your health management. And, on a related note, ginger shots are also amazing if you can handle the burn.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Exercise. Definitely exercise. Healthy body, healthy mind. I would say to stay physically fit, you should never let a week pass without at least one good workout — preferably more. Being an entrepreneur is absolutely grueling. You are constantly grappling with uncertainty and are held personally responsible (as well as personally liable) for any decision you make. For your business to succeed, you must rapidly develop expertise across many areas, such as finance, marketing, operations, and human resource management. You are taken to your limits, so having a fitness routine is an absolute must, as you cannot be successful if your body breaks down. Exercising provides physical stress relief and mental well-being, both imperative to good decision-making.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Listen to the customer, deliver what they ask for, and you have the dream platform. Customers are among your best critics; at the end of the day, they are your target audience. Quick iterations to perfection are one of the key components of our business model, and we can do that thanks to the magic of the cloud. No matter how many rigorous tests you do, your customers will find increasingly more creative ways to break your products or find loopholes in your services. In that way, you can consider customers to be the best beta testers available, and being open about that with them from the outset is one of the ways we have been able to scale our business the way we have.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failure is part of the equation as an entrepreneur, and the best advice I have for overcoming it is to be prepared for it and then develop the skills to learn from it and move forward quickly. Experience is the best teacher you have, so it is essential to develop the mindset of seeing failures as some of the best opportunities for growth and improvement. In allowing yourself the freedom to fail, you also make better business decisions by avoiding risky situations or ideas because a fear of failure prevents you from truly innovative thinking.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The pandemic has profoundly altered our way of life; we are still trying to figure out “the new normal.” The cloud now allows a vast number of people to work remotely, and even before the pandemic, brick-and-mortar retail stores struggled to keep up with their online counterparts. Movie theater ticket sales were dwindling as streaming became increasingly popular, and Amazon’s two-day shipping policy meant you could get virtually anything delivered to your doorstep with relative ease. We are seeing these trends accelerating post-pandemic as “the home-centric economy” matures. Developing or shifting your business model to a home-centric approach for things such as shopping, dining, entertainment, etc., is necessary right now. Businesses that enable and cater to this will do well.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently just bought my youngest son $100 worth of gaming credit on his favorite game. His reaction – priceless.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
The Oura ring – is one of the best products that help monitor my health. It’s kind of pricey but worth it. What I like most about it is its ability to analyze my sleep. Using a combination of hardware sensors and software, it analyzes my patterns and quality of sleep to help me achieve optimal levels. I have learned so much about the importance of sleep for our overall well-being and productivity. In the past, it was a source of pride to be able to say that I was operating on little to no sleep. Now, I work very hard to achieve good quality sleep – even if it’s not as lengthy as I would like.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
For the Media & Entertainment technology community, I recommend MovieLabs 2030 Vision. While not quite a book, it provides core principles and a solid roadmap for adopting new technologies in content production, post-production, and Visual Effects. As stated by the authors, the end goal is to be “More efficient, flexible, and faster.” Given the dramatic changes in our industry, these goals are imperative.
What is your favorite quote?
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
I think this really ties back to what I said previously about failure. If you are too afraid of failure to take risks, your company will never get off the ground. That’s not to say that you should charge blindly into any and all decisions you make. Still, by analyzing all potential outcomes, looking at the worst-case scenario, and coming up with a contingency plan, you can set yourself up for success while also preparing yourself for the potential failure that comes with taking risks. Failure is not fun, but there is no one formula for success. It’s always a trial and error process where we choose whether or not to learn from our experiences.
- Make lifestyle changes that have a positive impact on your health.
- Incorporate techniques to optimize health and performance.
- Develop compelling cloud-native products using an iterative approach and get real-time feedback from the customer.
- Be resilient. Be prepared to fail. Learn from it and move forward.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.