Y Soft is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month. Congratulations on 20 years.
Thank you so much. It’s been an incredible 20-year journey. In some ways, I feel like we’re just getting started. I founded the company in 2000 with Martin de Martini while we were in college– and here we are. It wasn’t always easy, but today, Y Soft is one of the world’s leading managed print services companies. Our headquarters are in the Czech Republic, and we employ close to 450 people across the globe.
What is your definition of customer success?
My definition of customer success is a happy customer, and their return to us defines that. If a customer renews our service, that is success to me.
The other part is – very frankly – being acknowledged by U.S. companies. Our products are used by 42 percent of Fortune 500 companies, many of them in the USA. And the fact that U.S. companies choose (and renew) European software is – to me – great success.
Both definitions require dedicated employees and trusted partners. Without them, we don’t have happy customers.
How did you grow your company in the global marketplace?
It was sheer will and determination. In the early years of Y Soft, we struggled against a stigma toward entrepreneurship in the Czech Republic. As we grew, we took our technology and corporate values first to Western Europe and eventually to the U.S. and APAC. Initially, there were struggles to understand what each market required, especially in terms of the support that was expected. We learned and rose to the challenge.
I still have a great deal of interest and energy invested in nurturing entrepreneurs from Central Europe. It is a particular point of pride for me that I have kept Y Soft headquartered in the Czech Republic. I hope I have been an example for Czech entrepreneurs; that you can be a successful global business and still call Central Europe home.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
We started as a small company of four people. Even at that early stage, I knew if we wanted to build a company of significance, we could not do it alone. The people you choose to be on the corporate team are the cornerstone of your future success. I knew the company I imagined could only be as good as the team I assembled to take it to the next level. The biggest role of a CEO is to build the right team. That statement is still valid for me today, even though Y Soft has grown from four to 450 people. Your company is only as good as your employees.
I also want to mention our strong history of social responsibility. We have a formal CSR program concentrating in four areas: Legislation – transparent lobbying in the Czech Republic, as ‘Watch Dogs’ – supporting fact-based journalism in the Czech Republic, Civic Society – encouragement of our employees to volunteer in local organizations by providing grants and donations to these organization (where our employees volunteer) and Digital Transformation and eGovernment where we assist in the digitalization of the Czech government. It is an investment in time and resources but immensely important to me personally and to the lives of the people we touch.
What’s next on the product road map for Y Soft and corporate goals for the year ahead?
Cloud-based print management is cost-effective, convenient, and an overall win for SMBs to large enterprises. Many organizations are now shifting to a cloud-first approach for their print management and print services infrastructure. The move to the cloud is part of more and more companies’ Digital Transformation initiatives, and we will be concentrating our efforts on responding to the needs in this sector.
We recently announced our partnership with Microsoft to provide a software and hardware solution integrated with Universal Print. We will be devoting targeted resources to ensure Universal Print is supported in the year ahead.
What is most special about 20 years in business for you, Vaclav?
I’m proud of how today Y Soft does a lot of things and does them well. However, what I am most proud of are the deep friendships I have made with partners all over the world over the years and how being the CEO of a global company has afforded me the opportunity to learn, gain personal growth and be able to appreciate and respect the different cultures to which I have been exposed around the world. We’ve helped many people along the way. We’re proud of that. And many partners have helped Y Soft, as well.