Sramana: In 1998, we were in the height of the dot com boom. I am sure it was a bit different in Toronto, but how much of that market momentum did you feel?
Kevin North: We felt it a lot. It was a big thing because within 18 months of me joining Dyadem, my group of friends that had started Dyadem started another company, which was a dot com. There were two companies going on simultaneously and the dot com ended up crashing. The dot com was a company that was founded just to ride the startup wave. If you have ever seen the documentary Startup.com, that is exactly what we experienced. For us, the location was Toronto instead of the US, but the similarities were freaky.
Sramana: However, it sounds like your risk management company was a real company solving a real problem that had real customers.
Kevin North: At the time, it did not seem that way. It seemed like the really cool thing was to go do a dot com. The Dyadem business was kind of boring.
Sramana: Everybody was drinking the stupid Kool-Aid of the time.
Kevin North: Absolutely. At one point Dyadem only had 2 to 3 employees and all of those employees had moved over to the dot com. After the first dot com crashed, the employees were distributed to the two other companies. Dyadem was the more legitimate business at the end of the day. It had real revenue.
I took that company over in 2004. The owners wanted to concentrate on another company and they tried to sell Dyadem, but nobody would buy it. They asked me to grow the company so I took over and scaled it to $21 million and ultimately sold to a public company in 2011. It was beyond a real company. We were listed in the Fast 500 every single year.
Sramana: Could you provide a bit more granularity on that story? You took over in 2004 and sold in 2011. Was the company bootstrapped or did you raise money?
Kevin North: I was not really trying to be a CEO. They did not want to run the company, so I just took over. The company had never raised money and it was an organization that lived hand to mouth. In 2004, the company was still doing desktop software.
I knew that in order to grow the company, we would have to get out of desktop software and get into bigger, broader things. We needed a bigger footprint than just Oil and Gas. We needed to get into industries that were still doing risk management and had similar regulations to deal with that could leverage our product. I really wanted to reach a revenue rate that would give us some traction and give us some credibility as a business.