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Leap of faith brought dream to fruition

Coming to Slovakia after I completed my MBA at the University of Buffalo in 1994 was a leap of faith for me. My best friend and two other Americans put forth a business plan that aimed to bring Slovakia the same luxury item that its neighboring countries enjoyed, an English-language newspaper.
I immediately became attached to this project, as their dream helped me achieve many of my own personal ambitions. But from the outset, it was clear that realising our goals would not be easy.


Eric Koomen

Coming to Slovakia after I completed my MBA at the University of Buffalo in 1994 was a leap of faith for me. My best friend and two other Americans put forth a business plan that aimed to bring Slovakia the same luxury item that its neighboring countries enjoyed, an English-language newspaper.

I immediately became attached to this project, as their dream helped me achieve many of my own personal ambitions. But from the outset, it was clear that realising our goals would not be easy.

The first time I saw a printed version of the newspaper was in a dumpster outside the printing house next to the Danube River on a cold, rainy day. I had heard rumours of Slovak special interest groups throwing issues of The Prague Post into the river because the paper wasn't Slovak. Naturally I had thought that the same fate had sabotaged our dream as well. Luckily, these newspapers were only the defective copies from the printing presses' first run.

As time went by, though, our doubts were replaced by confidence in the paper. My fondest memories of working at The Slovak Spectator include:

Receiving our 1,000th subscriber. Reaching our first profitable issue within our first eight months. Visiting Vienna four times in a failed effort to secure a green card. (The working visa finally came much later.)

The appearance of the first colour newspaper in our seventh issue in May 1995, thanks to an ad from Coca-Cola. Meeting the President of Slovakia.

A three-day tour of Slovakia in 1997 with my partner Daniel Stoll, where we saw almost every road in Slovakia while hand-delivering the first copies of the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide to every distribution point in Slovakia.

Hitting the game-winning homerun on a 3-2 pitch in a whiffle-ball game in the parking lot outside Zochová Chata, the site of the four partners' first founder's meeting in Modra.

In the end, I feel proud to see The Slovak Spectator arrive at my mailbox every week here in New York City. Having saved each copy, I occasionally compare issues through the years. Not only have we been able to meet our mission of leaving a lasting legacy by consistently delivering Slovakia's English-language newspaper for five years and counting, we have done so by drastically improving with each issue.

Eric Koomen is a founding co-owner of The Slovak Spectator. He worked as Sales and Financial Manager at the paper from its birth until August 1997. Now he is Chief Operating Officer at the House of Mor vodka importer in New York City.

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