Alex Dunayev, the 25-year-old director of software company AXI Web Solutions, has been awarded the Fulbright-Platinum Triangle Scholarship in Entrepreneurship. The US$100,000 award will allow him to complete a Master’s degree at a top US university.
Dunayev applied for the MBA programmes at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Stanford University. He was accepted to both but chose Stanford because of its location.
“Stanford is in the middle of Silicon Valley, in the centre of web-based technology,” he says.
The two-year programme starts in mid-September but Dunayev will definitely come back to New Zealand, he says. “New Zealand is a great place to live,” he says.
It’s also a great place to do business, he says. Dunayev plans to bring back new skills, Silicon Valley contacts and networks to New Zealand, he says, with the goal of leading a global technology company.
“New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for developing software. We have got incredibly talented people here and the technology we can create here is some of the best in the world,” he says.They can get things done without requiring a lot of resources. Kiwis take pride in their work and have a positive attitude, he says.
Dunayev will leave AXI to operate without him while overseas. He is confident the team of 12 staff will continue to run the company and be successful.
“My job was to build the team. Now, decisions are made very well without me,” he says.
Dunayev says he might come back to AXI on his return to New Zealand or he might venture into other projects.
Applying to Stanford was a reflective process for Dunayev, he says.
“It made me think about where I want to go and what really matters to me,” he says. “It helped me re-evaluate my life and set my direction.”
He is very excited about going to Stanford and expects to be learning a lot from his class, which is full of talented people from all over the world, who will challenge each other, he says.
“It feels unreal,” he says about being awarded the scholarship. “So many people believe in me. It’s very encouraging,” he says.
Dunayev immigrated to New Zealand from the Ukraine with his family when he was 14. He has double degrees in commerce and computer science from the University of Auckland.
Dunayev started AXI in 2004, when he was still at university, and on graduating, moved the company to the Icehouse, the Business School’s start-up incubator.