This Q/A Session was created and published on 23.06.2016
Sergej Strajnak Paul, you are known as a founder of a successful IT company with a nice big family and you just became the honorary consul for Slovak Republic in Australian Perth. How are you able to manage all that?
Paul Faix With difficulties (laugh). I love working with people and as an entrepreneur I’m always looking out for a new ideas and business ventures. Meeting new people means that I get to learn new things. Recently I have invested and co-founded two technology companies with really cool Apps. Every new venture brings in new excitement and people who I would not otherwise met. My work as Slovak Consul is giving back to the people and country where I was born and raised.
Sergej Strajnak If you would compare running a business in Australia and in Slovakia, what would be the difference, pros and cons? Is there anything you may wish to change in Slovakian entrepreneurial environment or in entrepreneurs' thinking?
Paul Faix Slovakian thinking is conservative and usually comes from the negative (what could go wrong) angle. Australian (Aussie) businesses people have more relaxed nature and are more open to the new ideas. They are not afraid to fail few times. There is also greater stability in legislation here. You can rely on the laws and businesses are generally following them. On the other hand in Slovakia I see more hard working people who are really driven to make it happen. If i could change anything in both countries I would cut the “red tape” - regulations and incumbents governments put on business. I believe that free markets and customers will eventually separate winners and losers. My focus would be on the small business and support it needs to grow.
Sergej Strajnak Your company offers interesting B2B solutions, you engage in charity and that is just the tip of the iceberg but we are mostly interested in your beginnings as entrepreneur in Australia. Can you describe your success story?
Paul Faix I’ve arrived to Australia (Sydney) 16 years ago - July 2000. Timing was great, right before the Sydney Summer Olympic games. I was fortunate to attend few events and a closing ceremony together with other 114,713 people - it was an amazing experience. I’ve arrived with all my qualifications properly translated and ready to start my new adventure. My story is a story of classic migrant - arrived with English school pre-paid for 3 months and $2000 (borrowed) in my back pocket. I could not speak English at the time so beginnings we little rough. One month after my arrival school was closed. I was lucky enough to find work for multinational US based franchise where I met my first Aussie friend - Pravin Kamal (originally from Fiji) who taught me English - he was often very frustrated with my slow progress (laugh). The success does not come overnight. Three years later we moved to Perth, Western Australia. I have established my first business in Sydney and bought into second one in WA. We build it up and sold it year later when I started Fortix. I guess where I’m today is outcome of many years of hard work.
Sergej Strajnak How do you perceive the recent Start-Up boom? You were a startuper back in a day so what would you recommend to young businessmen who think either in local or in global level?
Paul Faix Very good question. For technology startups the project should have a global potential to maximise all effort invested. However, only very few businesses make it on the global stage. You can also build very successful business in one country and then license your IP overseas. Before you do any of that you need to convince your friends, family, locals, city, region and country that your product is worth buying and keeping. One step at the time. I’ve seen many people losing focus early and missed on maximising their business potential.
Sergej Strajnak There lives a number of Slovaks in Australia and you became recently one of their official delegate. Could you, please, describe us the functioning of that community, their joint events and so on?
Paul Faix Here in Perth we have Czech and Slovak club that is very active and creates number of fantastic events for expats. We have had “taborak”, “veprove hody”, “karneval” just to mention few. The highlight it the Czech and Slovak film festival where whole community comes together and enjoys movies. There are also many small home groups and churches where community keeps Slovak traditions alive.
Sergej Strajnak What is your current contact with Slovakia? Do you have time to follow Slovakian events?
Paul Faix I have business, family and consular dealings with Slovakia on a very regular basis. Even at home we speak Slovak language - my four little Aussies can speak both languages English and Slovak fluently. In terms of events, I follow Slovakia wherever I can such as sporting events, championships, cultural events. Go Slovakia - UEFA Euro 2016!
Sergej Strajnak If you could give one advice to IT students and to young people thinking about a career in IT industry, what would that be?
Paul Faix During your studies find out what you are good at and love the most. The way to find out is that it comes naturally for you without great effort you are good at it - that’s your gifting. We all have one so if you don’t know what it is, it means that you have not find it yet. Then stick to your talent, master it, learn it, work it and be the best in it. You could be average at everything but master of only one. All the doors will be open to you.
Sergej Strajnak Have you ever met somebody during your career who inspire you to change yourself?
Paul Faix Yes, I do take inspiration from many people. I believe that everyone can add to your journey and if you don’t change you will not grow.
Sergej Strajnak What are your biggest achievements in your life and what is next?
Paul Faix Without any hesitation it is happy marriage with my wife Denisa and my four beautiful children - Filip (9), Oliver (7), Hannah (6) and Maya (2). Peter Costello - famous Australian Treasurer once said - when you have children make sure you have one for daddy, one for mummy and one for your country. I have two countries close to my heart so I have one for Slovakia and one for Australia. We have no plans for more children (laugh) so my next goal will have to be in business. My business goal is to reach one million active users using Fortix technology.
Sergej Strajnak Australia is a beautiful continent. Do you plan to ever come back to Slovakia or do you consider yourself more a denizen?
Paul Faix Slovakia is beautiful too! Never say never. I might one day come back.
Sergej Strajnak At the close of this session would you like to address anything to the other side of the world, our small Slovakia?
Paul Faix Slovakia is a small country with great potential. Let’s start believing that we as a nation can live up to it. How? Be prepared to start with yourself - stand up and be for something (not against), build people up (not tear down), encourage others and focus on who people are (not what they have). If there will be enough brave people to put their hand up and say - yes, that’s me - I want to be that person - we have a real chance of success.