Sramana: That is the beauty of having a really solid set of customer relationships over a long period of time. They trust you and your expertise and are able to participate in the product definition process. That is a huge asset.
Hemant Shah: It is a tremendous benefit. I have only worked in this startup. I have a sense that we have built those relationships by having a product mindset over time. We are building a cool product that is unique and only you can solve. When you bring that to your customers every day they respect you for that. At the heart of our organization is a company that is curious about solving these really tough problems with great product. Customers see that and they are willing to participate.
Sramana: When did you switch back to the CEO role?
Hemant Shah: In 1998.
Sramana: What was the circumstance behind that move?
Hemant Shah: There was a change of control of the business. Our venture funding came first in 1992 and we had more funding in 1995 and 1996. In 1998 and 1999 the business was acquired by the Daily Mail and General Trust which is a holding company that has a number of print and digital media and information assets around the world.
It was a watershed moment for the company because it was an opportunity for me to step forward to say that our story was not over. Yes the business was generating 30 million dollars in revenue and making a bit of money with an established client base, but there are a lot of companies that get to that stage. I came out and preached that we had a 300 million dollar business still emerging and that I wanted to take the company to the next level. As part of the new shareholder structure I stepped forward and told them I wanted to restart the company with the next big vision.
Sramana: From 1998 to 2013 you have grown 10x?
Hemant Shah: Yes. We are now going through another transformation. The first big transformation that we made was going from earthquake risk to catastrophic risk. At the time that was a big strategic evolution. In 1998 we had to ensure the information that we were generating became mission critical information to our customers, not just important research information. That drove the next wave of business growth. Now we believe the next big opportunity is to figure out how to build an exposure risk management environment for the whole marketplace. At the same time we cannot lose sight of our roots.
We have embraced cloud computing and we have gone through a massive architecture process. We have to rebuilt our entire stack to be able to deliver the models that exist in the cloud. We use big analytics to deliver that data to the cloud. We are extending that reach into our customers. That will also let us cater to a larger market base.
Sramana: Are you looking to cater to the mid-market businesses?
Hemant Shah: Yes. It is a combination of moving analytics to the heart of the business process by leveraging the kind of computational technology that is now available in the cloud. We can also extend our reach to the point that we are going to be able to deliver information to the buyers of insurance which could be major corporations. At the end of the day they are the ones with risk.
Sramana: Thank you for taking the time to share your story. Congratulations on building a fantastic company and best of luck as you continue building it.