From Forbes: Rounding the First Turn

Previously, I wrote about “dropping in:” taking the plunge to start a new company. I got great response from that blog – thanks. It’s been a few months since then, so I figured I’d look up from all of the start-up flurry to provide a short update.

Continuing in the skiing theme of my earlier post, I have rounded the first turn. As any skier knows, how you hit that turn sets the tone for the run. If you come out on balance, well positioned for the next turn, you can start to establish a rhythm. If you wobble, well…

For me rounding the first turn meant creating the core of this new company. To build a great company you need three basic ingredients: breakthrough technology, “committed” capital, and most importantly, great people. I’m writing to bring you up to date with our progress on all three fronts.

Once we knew we had the right idea, our first step was to raise money. Not just any green money, but money from the right investors.   Our corporate vision is ambitious and our aspirations are grand, but we also realize there is a long, long journey from where we are to where we aspire to be. So we needed investors who could be patient. Investors who could put their weight behind us, and be there years out if we’re still building. Investors who could see through the haze and recognize a real opportunity that today might not seem so obvious, and have the guts to back it for years.

I know that good things take time. I was at IronPort, my last company, for eleven years. It became a clear market leader, and eventually sold for $830M. I wanted investors that shared this long-term investment horizon.

In this regard, we succeeded beyond my expectations. We raised money, and we were fortunate to be able to choose from multiple investment firms. But most importantly we chose to work with investors and board members we know, respect and trust. We feel that these investors share our vision and our long-term perspective, and will remain firmly committed through the entire run. We have this confidence because we are fortunate enough to have worked with each of them in different circumstances, and we know what they are made of.

In parallel to the fund raising, we needed to recruit a great team. Again, relationships and experience came to bear. Over years of being a part of some other great companies, my partner Jason and I have had the good fortune to work with a surprisingly large number of people that we considered “rock stars.” A handful of these highly talented individuals decided to drop in alongside us. I feel with our founding team we have the core we need to make something amazing happen. And of course the run has just begun and we are still adding, albeit slowly.

So today we have the capital, the people, the vision—and the foundation to deliver it. As we dreamed up our new still-in-stealth company, we knew we’d face some technical hurdles that felt daunting, too high to climb. But I’m proud to say: our founding engineering team has proved that the impossible was possible.

With our three fundamental ingredients in place, we can go about the business of building a great company. We are far from having it “in the bag”. There are many, many places we could still face plant. I’m sure we’ll run into some nasty icy patches ahead. And rocks. But I feel very confident coming out of that first turn, and, boy, am I enjoying the run.

Now on to the second turn, recruiting great customers…

Thanks for staying tuned, and I’ll share another update soon.


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