Sramana: As a first time entrepreneur this is your first time heading up an enterprise software company. What has been your personal evolution and education from this process?
Jaspreet Singh: I have learned a lot. I still remember the day that Milind asked me to join him as an engineer in his startup. I talked about whether or not I should join him with my future wife. She told me that if I was bored at Veritas that I should quit my job, join him, and we would figure it out. Since then I have had nothing to lose. I put myself into the company 100% and I took on every challenge that I could find.
I see a startup as an upward spiral. You have four different dimensions. You have to build a product, position it and market it, sell the product, and finally raise money. You have to keep doing those steps repeatedly to continue the upward spiral. However, each time you repeat the process, it changes. There is a different market which requires different positioning. Perhaps the first time you had ten customers and now you have larger customers or customers in a new market segment. That process provides a lot of opportunity to learn.
It was a great experience to be in the US all alone looking to hire a team. I hired my entire marketing team, fired all of them, and then hired a new team. I now have a very strong team. I have spent a lot of sleepless nights building this team, and it is a very strong team. I am on my third VP of finance, my second VP of sales, and my fourth VP of product. Every single day is a new challenge.
Sramana: When you hired a marketing team, you said you had to fire and rehire. What were some of the key mistakes that you made in that hiring process?
Jaspreet Singh: If I could look back the biggest mistake was having the wrong people in the wrong jobs. I was hell bent that the way to sell things was through online marketing. Nobody believed me. Traditionally enterprise software was sold through channel partnerships and PR. I was hell bent on doing a tactical consumer move. When I moved to the US, I was introduced to multiple marketing folks. I ended up hiring someone whom I really liked, who is still a good friend, but things did not work out. I was told again and again that you had to build a strong team to do corporate marketing and PR. Tactical marketing and brand building was supposedly not the way to go. Hiring the wrong people in the wrong job was my mistake.
Sramana: Listening to your story, I don’t think your primary challenge was corporate marketing and brand. Your primary challenge was developing sales leads.
Jaspreet Singh: Exactly. At that time everybody told me that you did not need to do that. They told me you sold an enterprise through channels. I figured since 90% of the people out there told me to do it that way, I should try it that way. I thought times had changed. I figured that everybody searched before they purchased a product. We had the only product that could be downloaded and deployed. Everything else out there was bloated and expensive.