Back when Alexander Galitsky first created his Elvis+ company, people often asked him whether the name of the tech start-up had anything to do with Elvis Presley. Alexander recalls that upon learning that it was just an acronym for electronic computation and information systems, everyone always seemed a little bit disappointed.
However, the company did have something in common with the famous King of Rock and Roll, as it managed to quickly find its own fan base. In 1991, after a chance encounters with Sun Microsystems Inc., Elvis+ was contracted to create a new wireless network communication product for the American firm. Thus, the 802.11 protocol, which was later called Wi-Fi, was implemented in a PCMCIA-compatible device for integrating mobile computers into a wireless network. The result impressed Sun enough to take a 10% stake in the Elvis+ company in 1993. This made it possible for Alexander Galitsky’s firm to expand and look into other business opportunities, such as network security development and to create a first ever VPN product for the Windows environment in 1995-96. Backed up by private investment and one of the former executives at Sun, Galitsky launched a new company called TrustWorks Systems that developed a more standard network software product line.
Elvis+ And Its Eastern European Background
Back in the early 90s, Elvis+ was just one of many high-tech start-ups in Eastern Europe that were striving to make it in Silicon Valley. Many of these companies were launched by people like Alexander Galitsky – engineers and scientists who still wanted to dedicate their lives to research and development after the historic events that wreaked havoc on the state research funding in the region. Unlike some knowledge workers who turned to waiting at tables or driving taxis, these engineers were on the lookout for talents, investment and potential markets. Some of the visionaries succeeded and proved that they could give even the best Western high-tech corporations a run for their money.
All the Eastern European companies that had made it in the global market, including Galitsky’s Elvis+, had one important thing in common – they developed high-quality products. While most of them had financial and marketing struggles in the early stages of business, even their competitors admitted that their software was among the best in the industry.
Some of the most successful tech firms in the region were from the Eastern Europe, the first countries to get acquainted with venture capital and the highly competitive Western environment. Moreover, these were the nations that paid most attention to technological development and science. There were close-knit science and tech communities, and they had resources and tools for producing innovation. Although state-run tech organizations were mired in bureaucracy, they ultimately left behind the seed from which sprouted many successful Eastern European start-ups.
Alexander Galitsky made the right decision to target the global market. Many of the start-ups that chose to focus on their domestic markets were eventually devoured by Western high-tech firms. Many of the ones that were bent on making it in the West – and Silicon Valley in particular – ended up building strong relationships with larger foreign corporations. Thanks to Alexander’s vision, Elvis+ became one of the companies that contributed to the history of global technology development.
Alexander Galitsky’s Orbit of Achievement
There was a time in Alexander Galitsky’s biography when he was no less than a space engineer. Back then, he worked in Zelenograd and managed a team of the best engineers in the country and a half-billion-dollar annual budget. After the events of Perestroika, Alexander put together his team and founded a company in 1991. They swore to never stray from their research and development path and waste their talents on lesser goals.
In less than ten years, aided by its partnership with Sun Microsystems, Elvis+ was considered a serious player in the global Internet security market. Among its rivals were such heavyweights as RSA Data Security Inc., 3Com Corp., Cisco Systems, Celo Communications AB and Riverland. As for the packed network equipment market, the company had to compete with companies such as Check Point, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Net Screen, etc.
Still, the research and development mission sometimes seemed impossible to the engineers at Elvis+. Although Sun Microsystems invested in their firm, it did not give enough momentum to the products they developed, and the revenue fell short of what Alexander Galitsky had initially expected. Later on, however, Sun announced that it would begin marketing an Elvis+ solution named SunScreen SKIP E+. For a while there, the product caught Washington’s attention, as it was suspected that Sun was trying to bypass U.S. encryption-export regulations.
Meanwhile, the mission had to be modified for cost reasons, and Elvis+ branched out into the more moneymaking business endeavor of systems integration. The newly established company, called TrustWorks, was to provide some distance from the partnership with Sun Microsystems. The main goal of the start-up was to develop a new line of networking solutions aimed at the Western markets. Humphrey Polanen, who had been the general manager of Sun’s network security division, was appointed CEO of the company to oversee the new marketing strategies and distribution lines.
To this day, Alexander Galitsky believes that in order to get global attention, a start-up requires the expertise of people with international business experience. Their entrepreneurial skills are what can help a small company stay afloat and succeed in the world of big business.