Roman Pedan came to America and started his first venture while still in school. His second startup raised $55M just before the lockdowns began. Here’s how he survived and thrived through it…
On the DealMakers Podcast, Roman recently shared his family’s journey to the US in search of opportunity, and how that has turned into a life of entrepreneurship. We talked about why America is still such a magnet for those wanting a better life for their families, being clear about what you are passionate about and can commit to working on, leadership and the balance of taking the 1,000 foot view, and still throwing yourself into the weeds. Plus, de-risking investments and businesses, and surviving unforeseen crises.
Land Of Opportunity
While many in America don’t seem thrilled with their level of freedom and opportunity today, the American Dream is still a magnet for millions of people worldwide. Especially for those who want to create a better level of living for their families and more opportunities for their children.
This was the case for Pedan’s family as well. He was born in the Ukraine, when it was still a part of the communist Soviet Union.
When he was just a few years old his parents took the big risk to try and leave and get to the United States.
It would be a journey full of uncertainty, challenges, and new trials. Back in the Ukraine his father was a physicist with a Ph.D. and his mother had the equivalent of an MBA. Still, their family was stuck living in a one room apartment, with one bathroom, which they shared with eight other families. There was no entrepreneurship being fostered in that environment, and really no upward mobility.
Still, the journey meant losing much of their belongings at one stop due to an unscrupulous customs agent. Then being homeless in a third country, waiting for a chance to get into the US consulate to apply for entry.
Getting here required a lot of determination and fortitude. It took learning a new language, and retraining to get new jobs. It meant being willing to start over from scratch again, with no guarantees of success. All for the chance to give their kids more access to opportunities.
Roman told our audience on Dealmakers that he holds onto three big lessons from that experience.
- How fortunate we are to have the opportunities we have in this country today
- The incredible sacrifice that has been made by others for us to have these opportunities
- How to live with uncertainty and the importance of de-risking things
Before the Soviet Union he says that Russia was quite entrepreneurial and capitalistic. When communism came in, everything changed and a lot of things were taken away from people who thought they were secure in their assets. Things change and there are no guarantees of what tomorrow will bring, but you can be proactive about defending against those shifts.
Computers, Books & Commerce
One thing that Roman’s family did carry with them from Ukraine was their engineering culture. A computer was one of the first gifts he recalls receiving.
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