Sramana: How long after you received financing from Benchmark were you able to complete the first product you were able to ship to customers?
Chris Koopmans: We had working code right away and started doing customer trials right away. We consider our first official product the first product that a customer purchased to deploy in their network. We had many releases between the trials that started in November 2000 and the first paid deployment in late July 2001. That product was live in November 2001, meaning that their subscribers were using it.
Sramana: How many customers were working with you in that iterative mode between trials and the first paid deployment?
Chris Koopmans: Somewhere between five and ten. By the time we did our Series B in the fall of 2001, we had signed three customers.
Sramana: You were a group of techies from Illinois. How did you manage the selling process to the major carriers?
Chris Koopmans: Nick and I were on the ground doing a lot of that stuff. We also hired people to handle that for us. We would not have understood the business side at that point. One of the first things we did was hire a seasoned sales and marketing executive in the U.S. and three folks from Ericsson out the UK to found our European office. We went out and hired the best.
Sramana: Who was running the company as CEO?
Chris Koopmans: We brought in Hatim Tyabji as CEO in August 2001. He was our CEO until we were acquired by Citrix this summer. Prior to that it was looser; the professors were switching roles between who was CEO and VP of engineering every couple of months. Our VCs helped to crystallize those roles. They put us in contact with the sales and business folks that we hired.
Sramana: You went on to raise a Series B with three paying customers and a half of dozen companies evaluating your technology. What happened next?
Chris Koopmans: The fall of 2001 was dramatic between the dot-com bust, the telecom bust, and September 11. It was night and day. In the telecom space getting people to buy from you is hard, especially when you only have 20 employees. They are used to dealing with larger companies. We had been massively successful to sign tier 1 accounts and get those accounts in place. By the time the fall rolled around, we had a CEO and CFO who had taken multiple companies public. We were able to do a significant up round in the fall of 2001 and bring in another 29 million of funding at a good valuation. That let us move into a growth phase.
Between 2001 and 2008 there were a lot of ups and downs, many of them significant. Things like Enron and Lehman Brothers were big. Something that helped us through those times was our culture of conservatism. Our CFO kept our spending behind revenue growth. We went after additional funding only one time after that which was in 2004 and the purpose of that funding was to do an acquisition. We needed the extra cash for that. The rest of our business was funded organically.