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A Serial Entrepreneur’s Journey: Zscaler CEO Jay Chaudhry (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Jun 20th 2013

Sramana: Did you try to move to a sales and marketing position in the startup company you were with, or were you hoping to get a position with a larger company?

Jay Chaudhry: I was hoping to get with a more established company, but I was still in Cincinnati. I sent an email to the head of sales for the IBM branch office in Cincinnati. They have a big presence in that area which did around $200 million per year. They liked my background and invited me in to interview and eventually hired me into sales.

IBM is probably the best company for sales training. It is a wonderful experience. I performed various functions in sales in both small accounts and large accounts. One day I got a call out of the blue from NCR, which was based in Dayton, Ohio. They were trying to compete with IBM in general purpose computing. Before that, they had only competed in point of sale devices. They liked my IBM background and they brought me in. My job was director of marketing for Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

Sramana: Was that position based out of Dayton, Ohio, as well?

Jay Chaudhry: I was based out of the corporate headquarters in Dayton, but I had 60 countries in my division. I would visit 12 to 15 countries every quarter. I focused on the bigger countries, and it became a very good marketing experience. I worked to make sure all the key marketing messages were taken, streamlined for my markets, and executed appropriately. I would spend a lot of time in front of customers.

I was there for three and a half years before AT&T acquired NCR. One of our senior executives was hired by Unisys, which was another big company. He was brought on as the VP and general manager of the software products division. This was a $6 billion company, and the software product division did about $250 million. He called me and asked me to be the VP of sales and marketing. I then moved to a small town just outside of Philadelphia to take that position. That was a big move. I was one of the 35 VPs in this company as a young guy. I put a bunch of marketing in place, changed pricing from mainframe to seat-based pricing, which made a big impact.

I also learned that in a large company like Unisys, a lot of people spent time doing internal selling to make themselves look good. They spent a lot of time on PowerPoint instead of sitting in front of customers doing the things that needed to be done. That had an impact on me and did not sit well with me. That made me believe that I did not belong in a large company environment.

One of our channel partners was IQ Channel Software in Atlanta. This was a query and reporting tools company for Unisys databases. I met this guy at one of our channel partner meetings. This was about a $30 million run rate and I had not heard of them. They were bundling their reporting tools with a lot of software and they were not doing a lot of marketing. I told them that if they were doing so well without any effective marketing, they could do very well with effective marketing, and I gave their CEO a few thoughts. He then asked me to come and join his company. I was not ready, but he worked on me for six months, and he did convince me to move to Atlanta to work with his company.

This segment is part 2 in the series : A Serial Entrepreneur's Journey: Zscaler CEO Jay Chaudhry
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