From Vision to Value: Matt Gorniak, a UIC Venture

Matt Gorniak’s career is a testament to the new American dream. At 17, Matt immigrated to the United States with no network or connections and is now the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of G2 Crowd, one of Chicago’s fastest growing tech companies. After earning his MBA (’02) from UIC, Matt sought a career filled with self-starters like himself, leading him to the technology industry. “I was looking for a high-growth opportunity where I could compete on a level playing field.”

Matt’s experience as an immigrant served as inspiration for his company, G2 Crowd. Matt and his co-founders wanted to create a fair space for business technologies to compete. They saw that the status quo was limiting potential buyers in their ability to get the correct technology solution for their business needs. “Technology decisions are super important in business today, and every business has slightly different use cases, resources, and capabilities. Similarly, every technology is going to solve a business need slightly differently, so there’s no such thing as one right tool - just the tool that’s right for you.”

Matt and his team knew they wanted to incorporate reviews from real people. Reviews are critical for B2C (consumer) and B2B (business) customers alike. Forbes (2017) reports that “92% of web users now read reviews and 40% make a decision based on as few as one to three opinions.” Matt and his team understood that reviews were changing the relationship between businesses and buyers by providing accountability, trust and context that helps the decision making process. He cited companies such as Glassdoor, Yelp, Trip Advisor as successful examples of how transparency via reviews helps both businesses and consumers.

With over 400,000 independent and authenticated user reviews read by more than 1.5 million buyers each month, G2 Crowd has seen explosive growth in recent years. On Inc. Magazine’s 2018 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies G2 Crowd was distinguished as the fastest growing software company in Chicago, and the 20th fastest-growing software company overall.  Matt attributes the company’s success to two key factors: culture and vision. In Matt’s own words: “We like to refer to our culture as an ‘entrepreneurial family.’ It’s a hard thing to articulate, but it captures a seemingly counterintuitive cultural duality and our entrepreneurial spirit. At G2 Crowd, we expect a lot from ourselves and each other, and we hold each other accountable not only to our performance goals, but to our personal values that prioritize authenticity and compassion. When we started G2 Crowd, we started with a 10x vision and set some big goals that we’re constantly re-examining and pushing to the next level.”

Matt’s experience as an MBA student at UIC Business helped prepare him for his career as an entrepreneur. “UIC had everything I was looking for, and provided not only skills and knowledge but the mindset and the confidence I needed to be successful as an entrepreneur.”

Matt offered a few words of advice for UIC Business students and alumni who are budding entrepreneurs: choose your industry before you choose your job, work with those who bring out the best in you, invest in your craft, and lastly, “Think outside the box. You don’t have to take the first job you are offered or the job your parents think you should take. So many people don’t take the time to understand what drives them, what they’re good at, and how that might align with a potential career. Take the time to be introspective.”