Technology entrepreneur Ratmir Timashev shares secrets of success with Ohio State students
Ohio State alum met with Fisher College of Business students during campus visit
The Ohio State University alumnus Ratmir Timashev visited the university’s Columbus campus on Feb. 16 to announce a historic $110 million gift from the Timashev Family Foundation to establish the Center for Software Innovation. During his visit, Timashev participated in a fireside chat with Max M. Fisher College of Business students and shared insights about software entrepreneurship, product management, sales and marketing – priorities that the newly established center will advance.
In a conversation led by Anil Makhija, dean and John W. Berry, Sr. Chair in Business at Fisher, Timashev described how his career as a software entrepreneur began as an Ohio State graduate student in 1995.
“I fell in love with the software business. It’s the best place to be,” Timashev said. “All these things that you hear today – AI (artificial intelligence) – is all about software. That’s where the value-add is.”
Timashev and his close friend and partner Andrei Baronov built two successful software companies in Columbus. Their first company, Aelita Software – which developed software management tools for Windows NT administrators – was sold to Quest Software in 2004. The duo later founded Veeam Software, and Timashev served as CEO before the company was sold to Insight Partners in 2020. Today, Timashev is building a new data hardware company, Object First.
Ohio State students can look to Timashev and Baronov on how to become innovators of the future, Makhija said.
With Timashev’s approach to entrepreneurship, “one of the things I see is a form of leadership,” Makhija said. “Here at Fisher College of Business, we really stress leadership training. We want it for everyone.”
Identifying core values is important for leaders in every industry, Timashev said.
“How they treat people, how they hire people, how they fire people is all determined by core values,” he said. “Being a Midwestern company, we have some Midwestern core values: hard work, integrity. … We like highly ethical people. Those are the core values that come from leaders.”
Citing his partnership with Baronov, Timashev said a key factor in entrepreneurial success is finding partners who can complement each other’s strengths and compensate for knowledge gaps.
“You need a partner who will help you make less mistakes. Mistakes will be inevitable,” he said. “Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people who are not afraid of failing.”
Launching a successful technology company consists of understanding the market, capitalizing on early-stage trends and assessing how to deliver better products and services than competitors, Timashev said.
“What does it take to create a successful technology company?” he said. “It’s simple: right time, right place, brilliant product.”
Justin Hauser, a third-year finance major, said he can apply Timashev’s advice both to his future career in finance and the startup venture he’s developing in which autonomous vehicles deliver relief supplies after natural disasters. Hauser is launching the venture through Ohio State’s President’s Buckeye Accelerator, which provides skill-building support, mentorship and funding to help students turn their ideas into businesses.
Hauser said he was inspired by Timashev’s description of the variety of opportunities available in the technology industry.
“The thing he kept saying was to get a job in software, you don’t have to be technical or into coding,” Hauser said. “It could be marketing, it could be finance.”
Samuel Saldarriaga, a senior majoring in finance, said he appreciated Timashev encouraging him and his classmates to have self-confidence and not to be afraid to make mistakes.
“I was impressed with him being willing and able to respond to any and all of our questions. At the end, he asked about how our year was going and about our interests,” Saldarriaga said. “He seemed like he was genuinely passionate about targeting what students wanted. It came from a good place of wanting to give back to Ohio State.”