Sramana: You talked about the work that you did for the State of Texas. What work did you do for IBM?
Mohammed Farooq: We took the same model and replicated that with IBM for the State of Indiana. Indiana wanted the same thing and IBM needed help. IBM bought our services and the product that we had built at that time for performance management and governance.
Sramana: Essentially your projects were all governance related projects. You did one directly with the State of Texas and another with Indiana through IBM.
Mohammed Farooq: Yes. We did a lot of governance as well as IT operations, business operations, and a lot of business process outsourcing for contact centers. As a CIO/CTO, you need to understand that jobs have been changing for a long time. People think they work only in technology and finance. In reality, you are looking at what problems we are solving concerning the business and you are planning out transformations. I was intricately involved with business technology transformation and governance. You are correct in pointing out that all of our customers at that time were government customers.
Sramana: In that scenario, what did you identify to build a product around?
Mohammed Farooq: In Texas, we were doing only consulting work. We did build a product that IBM licensed. In 2006, we branched out consulting and product development. We started off doing IT operations work. I spent most of my time at the CTO level and Gravitant reflects how a CTO thinks. It has become an IT supply chain management company. Some in industry call us a cloud services broker.
Sramana: When did the transition between services and product happen?
Mohammed Farooq: Our first product was Performance Management and Government. That is the product that we licensed to IBM. It was a business intelligence and operations research product where you do ‘plan, monitor, govern’. You would set metrics as your targets and then collect data through adaptors, correlate that data, and benchmark for performance. That is the product company we built.
The transition really came in 2010 when this brokerage concept came in. I proposed the model of using an MSR like RackSpace, GoGrid, Terremark, or private cloud VMWare. You could choose any one of them or all of them and manage them in one place. This required a new operating model for IT.
I painted that vision for the State of Texas and I built a pilot for them over 12 months. I built this prototype during that pilot. We went back to the state and they ran a pilot with that product and that has evolved into the product we have today. We were funded in October of 2012 with a $5 million Series A. I raised another $10 million in October of 2013.