As children we may look up to our fathers as superheroes. As we age, we realize our fathers are not invincible, but human with their own personal stories of how they overcame the most difficult challenges in their own lives. The Bussgang men, including NewBridge on the Charles resident Julian, and his father, Jozef (now deceased), survived many challenges in their lives. Julian’s own son, Jeff, applied that same determination to succeed and achieve many accomplishments in his life as well. Through it all, all three men have been strong and inspiring role models to their children.
In 1939 when the Russian occupation of Poland was imminent, Julian’s father, Jozef, made a quick decision to leave everything he created for his family behind, including his successful business, beautiful home, and most of their possessions. Jozef knew it was too dangerous for his Jewish family to stay in their hometown of Lwow.
Fourteen-year-old Julian and his family left the comforts of their home to escape with Julian’s aunt and uncle to Romania. It was a treacherous trip and they didn’t know if they would be allowed to cross the border. At the time, Julian didn’t know that his father had already taken the first step to avoid future persecution in what would become known as the Holocaust. Jozef was fortunate to have gold with him and he used this gold to secure “capitalist” visas into Palestine for the family.
It was in Palestine that Julian attended a Polish high school in Tel Aviv and continued his studies developing a passion for mathematics. At the age of 18, Julian became one of the youngest soldiers in the Free Polish Army to complete the officer’s training program. He fought in and survived the infamous Battle of Monte Cassino that cost 55,000 Allied soldiers their lives. Later, Julian witnessed the cargo trains of numerous displaced people and realized how very fortunate he and his family were to have escaped the atrocities in the German-run camps. His father made a smart decision. Julian fought with others to end the war and later reunited with his entire family in London.
Julian immigrated to the United States in 1949 where he studied at MIT and then at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He received his PhD in Applied Physics and worked for MIT’s Lincoln Labs and RCA. After working for those companies, he taught at Northeastern University and Harvard and started his own radar and communications technology company called Signatron.
Signatron became a place where his ambitious son, Jeff, could practice his nascent computer programming skills. At sixteen-years-old, Jeff went to work alongside his dad and built an inventory tracking system for the business. Jeff then followed in his father’s footsteps and graduated from Harvard with a degree in computer science.
Julian continues to be a big influence in Jeff’s life. Today, Jeff is a successful technology entrepreneur (co-founder of Upromise), a partner in Flybridge Capital, as well as a teacher, mentor, author, and a proud father himself.
Jeff is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School on the subject of Entrepreneurial Management and co-founder and vice chair of The Alliance for Business Leadership. He is the author of Mastering the VC Game as well as creator of the blog SeeingBothSides.com.
“Growing up, my dad was a tremendous mentor to me. I watched him create and run his own company while still finding the time to be involved in civic activities. And at the end of a day, he would make time to get together with the family and talk around the kitchen table. My parents created a strong base in my life with much love and support,” said Jeff.
Throughout Julian’s life, he has kept a strong, sound mind and great determination. He and his wife, Fay, have a very loving, talented and successful family. He has also become a wonderful role model for those who learn his personal story of success and survival.