Sramana: What led you to Hytrust?
Eric Chiu: I was running sales and business development for Cemaphore. I was in the process of evaluating some other job offers and different startups and I had the board members from those companies calling me to figure out what decision I had made. During that period one of my co-workers from Cemaphore, Ranata Budko, emailed me and asked me if she could buy me a cup of coffee because she had a startup idea that she wanted to run by me.
She was running product management at Cempahore, and we had hired her from VMWare. We got together for coffee because I do this on a regular basis. I know how venture capitalist think and how entrepreneurs think. She pointed out that VMWare was about to go public and that virtualization was the hottest thing since sliced bread. VMWorld had just happened and customers were starting to talk about putting virtualization into production which was going to drive a greater need for security and compliance.
That was the thesis of HyTrust. She was as smart as a fox. She was not running the idea by me; she was trying to recruit a co-founder. She was very successful. After we talked about that idea, I was very excited by it. I ran the idea by a few of my friends and Cisco, ArcSight and some other places. Every single person I ran it by agreed that it was not a question of if but rather when.
This is probably the part where there is a lot of learning that goes along with it. I could not turn that idea off, but at the same time I was in no position to start a company. I had a newborn and a two-year-old. My house was half gutted because we were doing massive construction. I was not in a financial position to go off and start a company, but I could not get the idea out of my head. I went home and told my wife that I was not sure I wanted to join either of the two companies that I had offers to join, and that I wanted to start a company instead.
This is where it is very important to have a great partner. My wife did not say no because the timing was difficult. Instead she said that we knew this time was going to come and that we needed to figure out a way to make it work. That support, above all else, gave me the ability to start HyTrust. Financially, it is not easy to start a company. When Ranata and I started HyTrust, both of us quit our jobs and we both put $100,000 into the company to seed it. We did not know how long we were going to go without a salary, but we did just that for 10 months before we got funding and could pay ourselves again.