1. What were you doing before you quit your job?
Before leaving to start Kaskada, I worked as an engineer at Google and led a global open-source project under the auspices of The Apache Software Foundation.
2. When did you realize you wanted to quit your job?
I enjoyed the work I was doing, but eventually I felt that internal push to start building a team and a product I knew customers needed and that I was deeply passionate about. That said, if you had asked me 10 years ago where I’d be now, I never would have thought this would be my reality, but every day I’m thankful it is.
3. What initial hesitations did you have about quitting your job and how did you overcome them?
I had some early hesitations, but I’ve never shied away from making bold decisions. When I immigrated to the US from Croatia in my twenties, I knew I’d be a small fish in a big pond and need to work my way up. The decision to create Kaskada was the same – I was building on the work I had already done but I was still starting at the bottom.
4. Can you remember the day you put in your notice? What was it like, what was going through your mind, how did your manager take it?
I was excited – executing on a plan after making a decision, that’s the easy part. It’s the first year that’s hard; building an effective leadership team, pursuing funding, all the early successes that are critical as the company grows. Success is never accidental, it’s a personal combination of putting in the time, networking, and iterating on your idea and pitch repeatedly. You must learn from the “no’s” in order to start turning them into “yeses.”
5. What are you doing now?
Most of my days are built around supporting my team and the company’s needs and engaging with others so I can continue learning and growing Kaskada. Before the pandemic, I was always out meeting with people face to face, and now that’s being somewhat replicated on video calls. I really value the opportunity of in-person exchanges both personally and in business, but for now video is a close second.
6. Looking back on your experience of founding a company, what do you know that you wish you knew before? Are you happy with your decision?
Every single day I love my job, and most days it loves me back. I’ve learned a lot about myself, people, and the industry by going through this and I have no regrets. At the end of the day, I want to live life to the fullest; just sitting around isn’t my idea of a life well lived.
7. Any other advice you can share for others contemplating a similar path?
Time is the most limited resource we have – don’t waste it living someone else’s life or working a job you aren’t thriving in. Seek satisfaction in addition to compensation.