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From oppressed immigrant to streaming CEO - #GettingToKnow Dan Goman

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Dan Goman is the founder and CEO of Ateliere Creative Technologies, a pioneering technological force that’s transforming the post-production and OTT industries with ground-breaking innovations, from digital supply chain solutions to unique, customisable video apps. 

A digital trailblazer, Dan has helped media companies such as Microsoft, Lucent Technologies and AT&T Wireless advance their technology. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland and put his technology career on the fast track with software companies in California and Texas before he landed at Lucent Technologies.

His valuable experience at Lucent led him to Microsoft as a Software Developer/Network Management Specialist, where he managed Microsoft’s entire network worldwide on all their devices.

Today his sights are set on expanding Ateliere’s vision of a “full studio in the cloud” to Europe and beyond. But enough of our preamble, let’s hear from the man himself.

Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day? 

I am the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ateliere Creative Technologies. Ateliere offers a cloud-native, digital media supply chain and distribution platform, to enable production companies to focus its time, energy, and resources towards delivering the best audience experience possible.

As you can probably imagine, no day is the same for a company like Ateliere. Our platform offerings continuously change as customer demands and market trends evolve. So, the only typical thing about leading Ateliere from the last two years onwards or so, is the fact that I spend way too much time on Zoom/Teams meetings these days!

Other than that, we are a company that is constantly evolving and growing in size rapidly, with new global and regional developments. So, it seems as if every day brings something different— which makes my days really exciting– we’re creating cloud solutions in industries not known for technological advances, and that’s exciting! 

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

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We have found that some companies within the media and entertainment (M&E) industry, are sometimes still, a little doubtful about transitioning its workflows into the cloud. So, it is our job to prove to these companies the benefits of using cloud software platforms and how the cloud enables us to collaborate over vast distances, take advantage of the full power of parallel computing, and seamlessly exchange and store media content.

Not to mention the cost, the cloud is more accessible and cost-efficient in our environmentally-driven world. Working in the cloud simply brings levels of efficiency, security, and scalability that a traditional infrastructure can’t match. It’s the future — and something M&E companies can utilise to get ahead of the competition. 

On a more personal note, my family and I were immigrants from Romania, where we lived under a strict communist regime. Moving to the US as a young person is a challenge in itself, as it is never easy to start your life over in unknown cultures and surroundings. Still, I worked hard and created opportunities for me and my family, which has now led me to become CEO of a ground-breaking, innovative M&E company. 

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career? 

I have been through some struggles in my life which I strongly believe have led me to where I am today. 

I was originally born in Western Romania during the 1970s, where at the time my family and I, lived under an oppressive communist regime. My father was given a choice while living in Romania: conform or shut up. My father did neither, so both of my parents were fired from their jobs. 

As a family of eight kids, we struggled, but we applied for political asylum to move to the US — which turned my life around. I was given new opportunities in the US and completed college and began working for some of the largest software companies in the world.

This wealth of experience was invaluable in preparing me to start-up my own company, Ateliere, in 2010. As Netflix and other streaming services started rising in popularity, I knew that producing cloud-native technology for production companies was a valuable market, as these streaming platforms will need support with its consolidation of content. 

This is because M&E businesses often struggle with processing and storing videos which traditionally rely on complex hardware, highly specialized servers and massive storage environments that consume vast amounts of energy. Simply replicating this architecture in the cloud would not deliver the efficiency and sustainability that the media and content industry needs. 

To solve this for the cloud, Ateliere developed a proprietary technology that leverages next generation cloud services, parallel scaling technology that processes media at unprecedented speeds and consumes less energy, helping to save up to 90% in cost and energy consumption.

Because of our advanced, service offerings, Ateliere is now a leading, one-of-a-kind, technology company that solves a lot of the production and distribution challenges presented by legacy technology, through the use of its cloud-native distribution platforms.

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss? 

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The various industry recognition awards for our software platforms and the company’s innovation and hard-work, stand out in my mind as career highlights. In fact, we were most recently named the gold winner in the Information Technology Cloud/SaaS category for the Annual 2022 Disruptor Company Awards by The Globee Awards — organisers of world’s premier business awards programmes and business ranking lists.

This recognition solidifies our global position as disruptors and innovators, creating first-of-its-kind technology to move media content at all stages to the cloud. Additionally, Ateliere has been hyper-focused on developing ground-breaking innovations that consolidate media development, production and distribution practices within the entertainment industry, ultimately limiting costs, inefficiencies and risk, along with building more sustainable practices for content owners.

On the loss side, we were negotiating with a large M&E company in 2018. However, after over eight months of back and forth, we did end up signing the contract – but the “very large” contract somehow became “small” in terms of our working relationship together. 

This was quite a disappointment for the team, as we had poured countless hours into new features, POCs, customer visits, and more, to get this up and running. While this was disappointing at the time, we have worked with several large companies since and have continued to grow our partner relationships on a global scale — which has more than made up for this missed opportunity. 

Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry? 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with WPP and various of its different business units. The creativity and the amount of production that happens on a yearly basis at WPP is mind-blowing – it has more to offer than the traditional M&E industry. Therefore, it has been fantastic to work with them and a valuable and insightful learning experience for my progression. 

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets? 

I think I would have tried harder at school and tried to enjoy it more – at the time, it seemed like such a chore. Now, I really enjoy learning! In fact, I would love to go back to school and earn a new, additional degree. I kind of like the quote (often attributed to Einstein, but many others have said it) “once you stop learning you start dying”

Education is so important, and it can really expand your opportunities and horizons in life. So, I really believe it’s never too late to go back and try and improve your education. 

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing? 

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I would definitely be involved in the health and wellness industry! In fact, everyone that knows me tells me that I should have started a health and wellness company. I’m super passionate about it – and I find myself on this ongoing quest to optimize my health, primarily through a holistic approach.

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry? 

My biggest hope for the industry I work in, is that companies would become open to moving more towards adopting new, cutting-edge technology, on the back end of the creative process. I believe this will ultimately make the entire production process more efficient and lead to greater overall innovation. 

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals? 

Great ideas make a great business, and often, ideas come from unexpected places or sources. When you’re looking to join a new company or to progress in a role, always try to keep an open mind and think out of the box.

Look at the current market trends and think of what customers want or need today. This will impress your peers and lead to more creative opportunities for you. 

What are your top tips for other creative leaders? 

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I think it’s imperative to create an environment that fosters creativity and provides your employees with plenty of room to work with. This will help inspire more creativity and innovation, which will ultimately lead to business growth and success. 

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most? 

I think it’s important to build a team around you that is invested in the company vision, so, everyone is focused on the execution. Finding like-minded individuals who are interested in what you produce and see its purpose, will hopefully inspire more innovation and collaboration to make a successful business. 

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend? 

In general, what I find super helpful is to have a variety of resources to utilise and not limit yourself. I feel like it’s easy to stick to what you know or what everyone around you is consuming.

Some of the most fascinating people I’ve met will consume a huge variety of content, which I believe inspires unique ideas and insights, which can encourage further creativity and innovation in the workplace.  

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