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Building a Fat Startup: From Israel to Silicon Valley, Qwilt CEO Alon Maor’s Journey (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, Sep 28th 2013

Sramana: You hired two sales people to do market discovery, or essentially to develop a list of 100 potential customers. Talk to me about the characteristics of these two sales people? Typically they need very precise tools to sell. Early stage sales is not quite as clear and this takes a different type of sales person.

Alon Maor: Aside from the sales people, most of the market development has been done by Dan and myself. We reached out to customers directly. I still carry a significant part of selling. I think when you are evangelizing a product that the leaders of the company need to be involved in that process. We were lucky to identify people that have great product skills and have market development skills. They also had experience running large corporate sales teams. It is about finding the right talent.

Sramana: How did you find these people?

Alon Maor: One of them we found through an executive search company. The other we found through our network. I would estimate that 85% of the team at Qwilt has come through networking as opposed to using search agencies.

Sramana: Your majority of your first 10 people were from P-Cube. Was one of these sales people from P-Cube?

Alon Maor: Yes. The P-Cube ecosystem worked very well for us. The chairman of Qwilt was the CEO of P-Cube. From his perspective he felt that he was leading the next generation of P-Cube.

Sramana: That brings us up to the fall of 2012. What happened after that?

Alon Maor: We started selling and that put us in a new boat again. Everything was about sales. It is fun.

Sramana: Did you get all 15 to become paying customers right away?

Alon Maor: We were able to get our first PO as soon as we shipping the product. Then we had to make some improvements to the product that took additional time. We had to improve the storage mechanisms. Things are now ramping up as nicely as a networking company can ramp.

Sramana: Have you done any more financing?

Alon Maor: We have done a Series B and a Series C. We did Series B and Series C before we needed the money. We were able to take advantage of the market opportunity and the word of mouth that had been generated about the company. In both cases we were able to close Series B and Series C without reaching out to the VC community. In total we have raised 40 million dollars.

Sramana: Where are you at in terms of run rate?

Alon Maor: When we articulated a 5 year business plan for our Series A, we expected to do something in 2013. We are going to meet those objectives. We have followed the path of what successful companies who head of to IPOs are able to do.

Sramana: How many carriers are using your product today?

Alon Maor: We have 40 customers internationally. The US is our primary market but we do have deployments in Japan and Europe. We also have deployments in Mongolia and in the Indian Ocean.

Sramana: What is the reason for those last deployments?

Alon Maor: The fact that we do not have to invest a lot in deploying the product reduces operational costs. We ship and they deploy it out of the box. Video is a generic world-wide problem of transmission. When you go to the widest distribution areas in the world that is where you will find the highest cost of video transmission. We were able to make video 300 times faster for Mongolia.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Building a Fat Startup: From Israel to Silicon Valley, Qwilt CEO Alon Maor's Journey
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