CoolTech Club with Dan Avida And Serge Plotkin : Building Fast Growth Companies: Learn from those who did it!


March 26, 2007


Building great companies take skill, experience and luck. Dan Avida led EFI through years of fast growth and with Serge Plotkin, a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, co-founded Decru, which was later acquired by Network Appliance.

Dan and Serge will talk about their experiences and discuss the key steps of building successful companies, from inception and funding to a successful exit.


Dan Avida is a General Partner at Opus Capital, an early stage venture capital firm.

Prior to Opus Capital, Dan was President and CEO of Decru Inc., a pioneering storage security company that Dan co-founded in 2001. Decru was acquired for $272.5M by Network Appliance (NASDAQ: NTAP) in 2005.

In 1989, Dan was a founding member of Electronics for Imaging (NASDAQ: EFII), which received its only round of venture funding from Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners, in 1992. Initially, Dan led the Fiery project—the cornerstone of EFI's success. He went on to be promoted several times, ultimately to Chairman and CEO. Under Dan's leadership, EFI experienced five years of dramatic, consecutive growth, placing the company on Business Week, Fortune and Forbes lists of fastest growing companies, and on the Nasdaq 100 index.

Dan served as an officer in the Israel Defense Force during the years 1984-1989. He holds a B.Sc. degree in Computer Engineering from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, where he graduated summa cum laude.

Serge Plotkin is a venture partner for Opus Capital, where he sources and evaluates investment opportunities and contributes technical assistance to portfolio companies. Serge is also an associate professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, where he has served since 1989.

Together with Opus Capital General Partner Dan Avida, Serge co-founded Decru in 2001 where he served as chief technology officer and vice president of engineering. Serge has published more than a hundred technical papers and has been issued seven patents. He is currently the vice chair of the Security in Storage Workgroup P1619/P1619.1, IEEE standardization committee, which is tasked with creating a standard for storage encryption, and is the editor of the IEEE1619 standard.

Serge obtained a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT and BSc and MSc degrees in Electrical Engineering from Ben Gurion University, Israel. Before his studies at MIT, Serge served for five years as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces.

What They Say About Us

"The wonderful thing about entrepreneurs is that their passion for starting new companies transcends languages and geographic boundaries."

Ron Conway, Founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds, early stage investor in Google and PayPal

"Networking is very important for start-ups. The challenge for them is often not money: it is mentoring and finding people who can give good advice from experience."

Esther Dyson, Founder, EDventure Holdings

"This conference is clearly a labor of love for a group of dedicated professionals who care deeply about the Eastern European entrepreneurs. From the value-packed educational panels, to the star-studded key note speakers' line up, to an amazing quantity of venture capitalists – this is a not to be missed event for any high tech entrepreneur,"

Richard Guha, President of the Marketing Executives Network and Managing Partner at MaxBrandEquity

"As Stanford MBA students, we were exposed to a lot of VC firms both from the Valley and abroad. It is at Stanford that we met Anna Dvornikova, an absolutely amazing business leader and (by our big luck) our friend, who was the center of the Russian Silicon Valley professional community, and was doing a huge work to connect Russia and the Valley. Anna helped us a lot with kick-starting Wikimart, put us to our first-ever conference, introduced us to most of Russian VCs. And all that happened in a very short time span! It was the beginning of a six-month journey that despite the particularly tough times resulted in an extraordinarily group of investors backing our start-up."

Maxim Faldin and Kamil Kurmakayev,
co-CEOs, Wikimart