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Bootstrapping to Exit in Israel: Eli Sasson, Founder of Minicom (Part 4)

Posted on Sunday, Feb 3rd 2013

Sramana: How did you bridge the product gap? You had built a product for PCs, and then many of your potential customers ended up using PS/2. How did you bridge the gap?

Eli Sasson: Byte magazine covered the older product, but that was also at a point where we were also almost ready to release the new product. We knew we were going to deliver that capability, so Byte magazine was able to include that in their article. The timing of the overall product strategy and the publication of the article in Byte magazine was perfect.

At that time we were established enough to expand our business activity. We quickly received two very nice orders. One was from South Africa and the other was from a Belgium OEM. That was a breakthrough for us. A year later, we were scaling very nicely under that OEM deal.

Sramana: What kind of revenue ramp did you see from that point on?

Eli Sasson: We went from under $1 million to $1.5 million, $2 million, $3 million and $4 million. Once we reached $5 million a few years later, we found that growth was a lot more difficult to sustain.

Sramana: How many years did this organic growth go on? It sounds like you did not raise any outside financing and relied on organic growth.

Eli Sasson: We continued that way for quite some time. The first time we took on external investment was in 2005.

Sramana: You went from 1989 to 2005 without outside financing, which is great. What was your revenue level when you finally raised money?

Eli Sasson: We were doing over $20 million.

Sramana: It took you almost 16 years to reach that $20 million, but I imagine you had a strong product portfolio to base your $20 million on.

Eli Sasson: In the mid-1990s, when we hit the $5 million point in revenue, we knew we could not grow in the educational market forever. We made a decision to get into another market which is called the KVM market. That market targets server rooms and data centers. We let the system administrator put one server in a cabinet with one keyboard, monitor, and mouse. The next stage was accomplishing that via the Internet instead of via local cabling. We saw a market that was bigger than the educational market yet used the same core technology.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping to Exit in Israel: Eli Sasson, Founder of Minicom
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