|Education||University of Toronto (BA)|
|Occupation||CEO of The Herjavec Group|
Founder of BRAK Systems
(m. 1990; div. 2016)
Herjavec founded BRAK Systems, a Canadian integrator of Internet security software, and sold it to AT&T Canada (now Allstream Inc.) in 2000 for $30.2 million. In 2003, he founded The Herjavec Group, now one of the largest information technology and computer security companies in Canada, with over $200 million in annual revenue. He has been featured on the CBC Television series Dragons' Den and ABC's version of the series Shark Tank, where he is an investor. He has also written books on advancing in business. His net worth is estimated to be $200 million.
Herjavec received the 2012 Ernst & Young Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Technology and the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Governor-General of Canada for Outstanding Service to Canada.
Herjavec was born in 1962 in Varaždin, SFR, Yugoslavia (present-day Croatia), and spent his early childhood in Zbjeg. In 1970, when Herjavec was eight, the family left the country, which had previously incarcerated Herjavec's father, Vladimir, for speaking out against the regime. According to Herjavec, "He’d drink a little too much and then say bad things about Communism, and got thrown into jail 22 times for being an anti-Communist." Herjavec's family arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia , with a single suitcase and only $20. The family eventually settled in Toronto, where they lived in a family friend's home basement for 18 months. For Herjavec, who spoke no English, the transition proved difficult. Having grown up on a farm and raised by his grandmother among neighbors with similar lifestyles, he found himself in a much poorer economic class than his neighbors.
Herjavec's father got a job in a factory in Mississauga, making $76 a week. Herjavec cites his father, whom he describes as "a really, really tough guy", as a significant influence in his life. Herjavec has told a seminal memory of his, when he came home one day to complain to his mother that his classmates were making fun of him. His father, who used to walk to work to save money on bus fare, came home, and when he heard what his son described, instructed his son never to complain, which became a guiding principle in Herjavec's life, one which he says sparked his sense of courage. Another influential episode in his youth came when a traveling salesman persuaded Herjavec's mother to buy a vacuum cleaner for $500, which was seven weeks' salary. As a result, Herjavec swore his family would never be taken advantage of again.
In 1984, Herjavec graduated from New College at the University of Toronto with a degree in English literature and political science. To make a living and help support his family, Herjavec took on various minimum wage jobs in the 1980s, such as waiting tables, delivering newspapers, retail salesman, and debt collection.
Early career in film
In the mid-1980s, Herjavec worked in several productions as a third assistant director, including Cain and Abel and The Return of Billy Jack. He was a field producer for Global TV of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.
Looking for work between productions, Herjavec applied for a position at Logiquest selling IBM mainframe emulation boards. He was not qualified for the position but convinced the company to give it to him by offering to work for free for six months. To pay the rent during this "free" period, Herjavec waited tables. He eventually rose in the ranks to become General Manager of Logiquest. In 1990, after being fired from Logiquest, he founded BRAK Systems, a Canadian integrator of Internet security software, from the basement of his home. BRAK Systems was sold to AT&T Canada (now Allstream Inc.) in March 2000 for $30.2 million. He then became Vice President of Sales at Ramp Network, which was sold to Nokia for $225 million.
The Herjavec Group
In 2003, Herjavec founded The Herjavec Group, a security solutions integrator, reseller, and managed service provider. Herjavec Group is one of Canada's fastest-growing technology companies and the country's largest information technology security provider. The company has grown from 3 employees with $400,000 in sales in 2003 to $200 million in annual revenue.
In October 2017, Herjavec was phished by "email prankster" James Linton as the company CEO, inviting him to a toga party. Later the fake account was copied into official financial projection documents.
Herjavec has appeared as a regular on the Canadian CBC Television series Dragons' Den (seasons 1 to 6) and in the United States on ABC's version of the series, Shark Tank, where business pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs are presented to a panel of potential investors. Herjavec's most successful investment from the show is a $100,000 for a 10% stake in sweater company Tipsy Elves. Herjavec has also invested in an herbal sparkling water company called Aura Bora.
On February 24, 2015, Herjavec was announced as one of the contestants for season 20 of the American edition of Dancing with the Stars. His partner was Australian dancer (and eventual wife) Kym (Johnson) Herjavec. On May 5, 2015, during a double-elimination, Herjavec and Johnson were eliminated and finished in 6th place.
Herjavec is the author of three books. His first two books were Driven: How to Succeed in Business and Life (2010) and The Will to Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding (2013). Driven is organized by the work and life principles that made Herjavec wealthy and successful, while The Will to Win delivers life lessons that promise to guide readers to greater happiness and success. "The Will to Win" is also the name of public presentations that Herjavec has given, which feature his advice to business people based on his life experiences. On March 29, 2016, his third book, You Don't Have to Be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success, was released.
Herjavec owns a home in the Bridle Path, Toronto, area. The mansion has been host to Michael Bublé, John Travolta, Mick Jagger, and Bono. Herjavec paid $7.5 million for the mansion, featured on MTV Cribs, Joan Rivers's TV show How'd You Get So Rich?, and the Rolling Stones' tour video. Herjavec also has several other vacation homes.
Herjavec is an avid golfer and runner. He has played in the 2010 Canadian charity open sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada at the Royal St George's Golf Club. He has also competed in the 2010 New York City Marathon and the 2009 Miami Marathon. He is certified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors as a scuba diver and owns several Ducati motorcycles.
A passion of Herjavec's is car racing. He competes in the Ferrari Challenge. Herjavec competed as #007 for The Herjavec Group Racing team in the North American Ferrari Challenge Series, where he won the Rookie of the Year title in 2011, after winning both races at the season-opener in St. Petersburg, Florida and following up with wins in Laguna Seca Raceway and Lime Rock, Connecticut.
Herjavec is a major donor to the Union Gospel Mission homeless shelter in Seattle, Washington, after being turned on to the organization by his pastor, whom he consulted to deal with his depression after his marriage fell apart.
Herjavec married Dr. Diane Plese (optometrist) in 1990. They separated in July 2014 and divorced in early 2016. He had suicidal ideation after his marriage fell apart. He and his ex-wife have two daughters, Caprice and Skye, and a son named Brendan. In June 2019, a judge ruled that Herjavec must pay his ex-wife additional sums that would bring the total she received from the marriage to $25 million.
In September 2015, Herjavec confirmed his relationship with his former Dancing with the Stars partner Kym Johnson. On February 27, 2016, the two became engaged. On July 31, 2016, they were married in Los Angeles, California.
In 2017, Herjavec's ex-girlfriend, Danielle Vasinova, whom he dated from 2013 to 2015, sued him for rape after he sued her for attempting to extort him over false claims of sexual assault. Both suits were dismissed in mid-2018. The allegations against Robert were withdrawn without financial settlement, and Vasinova apologized to Robert and his family.
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