This Company Democratized Networks

Ajit takes a few questions from Vaahini, an online network supported by Accenture, on his experience as an entrepreneur.

Q: What’s the best way to raise money for a venture?

A: While cold calling, attending VC meets are all done, the chances of success are low. Instead, share your idea with close friends who can then connect you with other friends or VCs who are happy to back a great idea. In my case, my co-founder had a brother who knew the VC and I had a senior from Rourkee whose husband was a VC. Another friend had made money at the stock market and sent me a blank cheque since he wanted to invest that money. And then another friend from Cisco thought my idea was great and agreed to invest. His belief in my idea then helped us build our case and convince other VCs.

A: The first thing they look for is the idea itself. The questions they ask themselves is : Is this a billion dollar idea? Will this idea change the world? Is there a need for something like this? Will people buy it? The next thing they ask themselves if if I give them 10 million dollars how fast will I get back 100 million dollars? . Can you do it in the next 3,5 or 7 years? How big is the market size? And then they look at the team. Can these people deliver? Any traits, attributes, proof points that they have been there and done that before?

A: Hopefully, your idea is something you have personally invested a lot of time in and you are one of the few people who know how to build it. It involves a high degree of domain expertise and there are very few people who can duplicate it. It usually cannot be replicated just by hearing about it. And usually there is a core team identified already to execute the idea. In case you have a great idea but there are others with a similar idea, let the best man win. A true entrepreneur will not usually be bothered about that.

A: There is a common core set of beliefs that the team has to be aligned with. Then they have to have certain desired outliers or characteristics. For a start up, I prefer people who have a sense of urgency, a desire to prove something in life, who are smart and care about people and customers. And then they have to have organizational skills that I may lack. The team has to be culturally aligned while having individual traits that compliment each other.

A: I did not really want to sell Speedera. A founder would normally not want to sell the company. In our case, Akamai was a much larger company and was determined to drive us out of the market. We realized that there would be a battle ahead. They made a very good offer, which our investors found very compelling.

A: The biggest learning was to do something really big, something that no one had done before. In the case of Speedera there were about 30 companies that were launched after we did though Akamai and Speedera were the main competitors. This time around we made sure we are unique. Instead of a billion dollar market this time around we are in a 20-30 billion dollar market space. Cloud computing is all about compute, storage & network. We are the network. So we are one of the critical pieces of this era. Clearly, we will not have a competitor for a long time. 

The other critical lessons were to be more careful with the money we spend. You should do a lot of market research and market validation. There is a fine line between talking to customers and finding out what they want and what you know they should be asking you for. There are lots of learning in product creation too.

With the cloud playing such a critical role in networking today, the future seems bright and exciting. “We hope to make the world a much better place where everything is connected. You can collect data and do things you have never done before. You can print your body parts, send drones to deliver milk….the possibilities are immense. The next 100 years will see technology developing at a much faster pace than ever before and I am excited. The backbone to all these developments will be the network. Aryaka will level the playing field,” says Ajit as he shares his vision for a connected world.

Read the complete interview on Vaahini.

Aryaka, the Cloud-First WAN and Security company, and a Gartner “Voice of the Customer” leader makes it easy for enterprises to consume network and network security solutions delivered as-a-service for a variety of modern deployments. Aryaka uniquely combines innovative network, security, and management capabilities to offer a highly integrated SD-WAN and SASE architecture built for architectural flexibility and best-in-class customer experience. The company’s customers include hundreds of global enterprises, including several in the Fortune 100.