Sramana: These days investors do not fund concepts. They only fund businesses. That means there needs to be customers buying a product.
Alon Maor: In our case, since we are approaching the carrier space which is a large software-based capital intensive project, the incubation we did was through 15 worldwide carrier references. We had endorsements from those carriers who said they were behind the idea and recognized our approach as the future of the market.
Sramana: How did you get to those 15 carriers? How did you define the problem domain? Did the carriers help you define the problem?
Alon Maor: We followed the process of customer discovery. We went out into the market with a concept and validated it with our prospective customers. We did not have a working product, but in parallel we had people working at night developing a proof of concept doing video simulation and analytics.
Sramana: You went to the customer with a hypothesis, right?
Alon Maor: We had a business case. We had a marketing presentation as if we were an established company. We presented ourselves as an established company to the customers from day one.
Sramana: How did you arrive at that core hypothesis? Did you and your co-founder have enough domain knowledge to come up with the hypothesis?
Alon Maor: We knew enough about the market to identify where the gap was. Our knowledge in technology and the market challenges led us to the hypothesis that video was going to become the biggest challenge for carriers worldwide in the next decade. Video consumption was growing exponentially on the Internet and there was not enough capacity to carry all of the demand. We realized that in a few years the carriers would not be able to deliver on the demand. That was our hypothesis.
We knew that the technology that was currently available, routers and switches, was not scalable and would not provide the best experience. It was not economically correct to use that approach. You need to intelligently have the network cache the most popular content in the neighborhood and we had the most sufficient technology background to do that in an optimal matter.
Sramana: Where does Akamai fit into the picture?
Alon Maor: Akamai is developing a completely different business case. They go to the content providers and offering to distribute the content further. We are building a new network that is intelligence enough to decide on its own what is popular for the benefit of the carrier, the content provider and the end user. Now that we are deployed we can cooperate with Akamai and tell them what has been delivered. We are replacing the delivering entity to be the carrier itself with new technology.