From University Party Webpage to Success in the States

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While much of our focus is on U.S. investment in Hungary, there is an increasing number of Hungarian companies that have already tasted success across the Atlantic. One such is Stylers, which evolved from a project by three university roommates to become a business serving up IT solutions to the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. The Budapest Business Journal asked the founders about their path to success Stateside.

Gábor Laczkó

BBJ: How and when did the story of Stylers begin?

Stylers: Our story dates back to the beginning of the 2000s when Gábor Laczkó (later a bioengineer), Péter Tiszavölgyi (who would go on to be a plastics engineer) and chemical engineer-to-be Gábor Gönczy were studying at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics and we happened to get into the same dormitory room. It was there that we created our first webpage, called egyetemibuli.hu (university party), in response to needs. Its most important benefit was that all three of us fell in love with the IT profession and it was during our university years that we founded Stylers Group in 2004.

Right after the graduation there came an opportunity, bringing about our first job for thevisualmd.com. We had to develop an online presentation software explicitly for doctors. Later on, it was introduced at the TEDMED Conference in San Francisco. It brought about such unprecedented customer satisfaction that it gave rise to further orders from America.

Shortly afterwards we founded our sister companies in New York and later San Diego and we started delivering to the [meditation] media empire of Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra.

In parallel, the Hungarian firm has been developing, too: it mainly deals with production; we support the digital transformation of domestic medium- and large-sized companies. We launched our education center, called the Braining Hub, three years ago, which in addition to training junior programmers, also organizes internal IT training for the programmers of large companies. It also promotes the domestic IT market with education management.

BBJ: How did the company’s profile evolve from offering website design to developing complex IT systems and supporting digital transformation?

Stylers: It was the outcome of a natural course of events, as we were asked to take part in bigger and more complex projects over the years, thanks to our former results. It does help a lot that we are present on the American market, where there is different business and technological know-how: it enables us to look into the future and know what will be the dominant trend, which turns up after six months in the domestic market.

Gábor Gönczy

BBJ: What was Stylers’ breakthrough moment on the U.S. market?

Stylers: Success came on the U.S. market when we started working on digital transformation projects where the goal was to make high-load software. It was a huge breakthrough as we run that to handle daily individual views of more than a million. The other great moment was founding the San Diego Tech Hub. This is a professional and business community consisting of 3,000 people, which provided an even deeper insight into the American market.

BBJ: What is the story behind the Meditation Challenge project with Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra?

Stylers: When we introduced our software at the TED conference in San Francisco, our client was so satisfied with us that he referred us to Deepak Chopra, whom he knew in person. We started to deliver to him first, later on we were put in charge of creating the webportal of the Meditation Challenge marketed by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra. Owing to this project and hard work, we have been operating e-commerce portals where the daily individual views exceeds a million.

BBJ: When did the firm’s San Diego office open, how many people work there?

Stylers: We established our subsidiary first in New York, in 2010; then in response to business needs the office moved to San Diego in 2012, where there are three co-workers working currently.

BBJ: What advice would you give to Hungarian businesses trying to succeed in the United States?

Stylers: First of all, they must have a vision, otherwise it is incredibly difficult to enter the American market.

The second thing to consider to be able to work successfully in America is the presence of fierce competition, which is why it is worth launching a product and dedicating time to get familiar with the American business culture and mindset, both of which are completely different from those of Europe. Our third piece of advice is having an active presence there; that is why one of our co-founders, Péter Tiszavölgyi, moved to the United States 10 years ago. Finally, it may also be worth establishing an American firm: a webinar was held by Péter for our Hungarian audience on this topic, which can be viewed on our YouTube channel.

Péter Tiszavölgyi

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