Dennis Bungart is a great example of a Founder who has carefully climbed up the ladder to succeed in his initiative. Using his technical skills and grit to come up with a plan and really pursue it; he is no doubt, someone we should look up to. His insights show us that though it is not easy to build your own initiative, it is definitely worth it in the end.
Dennis Bungart or ‘JD’ is a SysAdmin by Heart and an Opportunistic Perfectionist by Design. Having been around the industry for the past decade, he’s out to share his knowledge. Being a Security Enthusiast and Advocate for Free and Open Source Software, he also supports the uncompromising vision of Net Neutrality. JD is the CEO and Founder of Immerse Networks Limited, a HK based company providing for independent consulting, remote hands and training services to international clients.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business? What inspired you to create Immerse Networks Limited?
I’m passionate about tech. It’s as simple as that. During the early years of my career, I somehow felt the itch of being independent and being able to offer solutions I felt my clients needed the most. If you’re a rookie desperately craving to gain experience, getting employed by and staying with a young, dynamic company goes a long way.
For the first seven years, I’ve worked as an IT Consultant & Trainer with B1 Systems, an open source solutions provider operating from Bavaria, Germany, providing services to the entire EMEA region. I joined the team early on when we were still ten people. Today, B1 is one of the leading open source solutions providers in the EMEA region empowered by what I’d call a decent mix of ~100 consultants, developers, trainers and system architects. They offer anything from system design, technical training, support and community driven software development. It’s an amazing team which I am glad to have had the chance of working with.
B1 plays an important role in my life as it has led me to the idea of opening my own business in central Asia. In the process of building up myself, I had to sacrifice a lot of my personal time. Since I didn’t know my own limits back then, I’ve suffered the consequences of two burnouts within a period of three years. That alone was a great motivator towards my decision to move to the Philippines in 2011. I was fortunate enough to have been given the chance to keep working full time with B1 until the end of 2012 when I took up a job as an IT/ICT Operations Manager at Foundation University, a private institution for higher education located in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.
As part of my leadership role, I began to educate students by exposing them to the practical side of my job while constantly building an operations team that would live up to my (fairly high) standards, just to realize a few years after that I was restricting myself. So, I’ve started planning out my idea of running an online based consulting service supporting clients, primarily located in central Asia.
In January 2016, while getting married at the same time in Hong Kong, I took a huge step in incorporating my business. Hong Kong was an easy choice for a target market as it is regarded as a central business hub in central Asia. Immerse Networks‘ mission is a simple one; provide professionals that are equipped with a proper attitude, a healthy drive and a strong loyalty with a platform to unfold far away from the usual 9×5 scheme. Aside from that, being your own boss feels just great and it gives you the ability to increase your exposure, develop and deliver custom solutions together with like-minded professionals all around the world. The sky’s the limit!
Immerse Networks establishes effective solutions in the field of Information and Communication Technology. What new innovations in communication and IT have you seen recently that excite you the most?
That’s a tough one. I’m passionate about tech. It’s as simple as that. I easily get excited about any technological advancement there is. When I’m not busy being with our clients, I spend most of my time reading on the latest developments on technological markets.
In particular, I am pretty excited about the adoption of passive optical networking standards such as GPON and EPON as well as software defined networking. That goes in particular for SD-WAN, wan acceleration but any core network technology. Being fairly interesting as well; vendors producing niche products but in general RF, routing and switching equipment coming from Ubiquiti Networks, Cambium Networks, Ligowave or MikroTik. The price/performance ratio as well as the 10G cost per port has dropped significantly allowing us to implement future-proof, high-capacity backbones using affordable yet high-quality equipment.
I also consider myself a community guy and love to contribute and read about all sorts of free and open source software projects. In fact, for the past decade, I’ve been running all my personal as well as business assets using open source operating systems (e.g. Linux, BSD etc.) but open source software in general and opposite to popular belief stuff’s just working 😉
What key things should an innovator focus on demonstrating when looking to connect with a technology leader?
Personally, I can work with anyone providing a proper attitude and a solid vision. Afterwards, it’s about tackling challenges together which is fairly time consuming but fun at the same time. Stating the obvious; a product should have a market and a demand – no matter what it is.
What are the most successful projects you had and how did it impact your venture?
We’ve worked on quite a few projects in all corners of the APAC region. I don’t have any favorite though. Currently, we’re consulting a lot on restructuring ISP backhauls including capacity planning and security. We also do international as well as national and regional branch interconnections, system monitoring, local WiFi distribution, long distance network via WiFi and fiber optics. My primary focus is with UNIX/Linux systems engineering. We usually end up designing, implementing and supporting entire infrastructures connected to BPOs, resorts but also residential clients which are later connected and supported through respective support contracts.
How does being a Founder affect your personal life and space?
Tremendously. I’m a husband and father of soon-to-be-three and getting everything together sometimes is more than just plain hard. I am having my home office based in Dumaguete but frequently am required to travel and forced to leave my family for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks or even months. It ain’t pleasant but also somewhat rewarding. By the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable in your own skin and I’m sure that it’s the same for everyone really but I’d like my kids to be proud of me while they grow up and teach them about principles and lessons I’ve learned in the process.
What advice would you have for anyone looking to start their own initiative?
One word; funds. Lots of funds. Depending on your idea, you’re going to burn through cash. Travel costs, accommodation, legal fees, monthly service charges, bookkeeping, financial audits, salaries, incentives, dividends, international banking, transaction fees, you name it! It ain’t a piece of cake and I still haven’t figured everything out yet. Basically, you’ll encounter obstacles as you move. The faster and stronger your growth, the more challenges you’ll have to deal with.
If you’re just starting out it’s probably a good idea to get a business consultant to help you set things up. I’ve made several and quite obvious mistakes in the process of setting up my business in HK from starting off with the most expensive agency and secretary service to the structure of my company. If you don’t have any capital or working product you’re better off to create a business plan first. Keep in mind that while it is not required; opening a bank account in Hong Kong has gotten quite hard and takes some serious effort and requirements (especially with HSBC).
About Immerse Networks Limited
Immerse Networks Limited provides for independent consulting, remote hands, troubleshooting and training services in the field of information and communication technology. Our specialties involve network and systems monitoring, cross-country corporate branch interconnection and remote management, firewall cluster deployments and systems engineering for UNIX/Linux platforms. Our team consists of well distinguished experts in their respective fields being passionate about every single aspect when it comes to designing, implementing and operating your international infrastructure to the highest degree of dedication.