Sramana: How did you get the company off the ground? Did you raise VC money? Did you use your own money? Did you bootstrap?
Krishna Kumar: Initially, we had to bootstrap. The first few years were funded through my checking account.
Sramana: How long did it take you to get your first customer?
Krishna Kumar: We had to get an alpha customer to get our product out. I had to use my consulting skills to get a foot in the door. Our first customer was Johnson and Johnson. The product did a good job of optimizing the analytical landscape. Instead of us trying to promote our own product, we used existing analytical product budgets and systems, which were well crafted within the landscape, to piggy back on and promote our analytical products. The best way to do that was to sell myself as a visionary consultant.
Sramana: Is it correct to say that you were offering services off of SAPs BI platform?
Krishna Kumar: Yes, it was services with a product slant. It was not pure time and materials. It was about promoting my thought leadership as a conduit to push the product.
Sramana: We have a very well defined methodology that we teach, which is called Bootstrapping Using Services. This is a tried and true method in B2B product spaces. The services offer leverage for both cash and customer generation.
Krishna Kumar: That is definitely correct.
Sramana: How long did you work in that mode?
Krishna Kumar: I worked in that mode, being very conscious to avoid going down the road of IT services. When you are in time and material mode, the intellectual property you develop becomes the IP of the customer.
Sramana: Unless you negotiate that separately.
Krishna Kumar: You have to negotiate it separately or have a clearly defined alpha product. We had that in place. That was the box where the IP was encapsulated and we had a clear contractual dichotomy. Anything outside of the purview of the billing was IP of the company. That arrangement let us grow the IP without getting cannibalized, and without getting sucked into a full-time gig. I had five very smart consultants who were with me. I used to go there twice a week to get things going and then I would use the other consultants to implement what had been sold. That way, I was able to get revenue as well as build the platform.