Sramana Mitra: When was this company founded?
Chuck Bloomquist: In 2002.
Sramana Mitra: When you started the company, what were the circumstances? Did you and your co-founder put a product together and start selling to customers? Were there customers first?
Chuck Bloomquist: We really didn’t have a product. We just had a concept. We had an idea for a better way to perform security for organizations. We sat down and started mapping out a business plan for what we thought would be the most appropriate way to work with organizations that have sensitive information. That led us down the path of getting involved in understanding the process side of any kind of a conceptual project. More so, how we could map that to the handling of information in its digital form. That’s where we got our foundation from.
We looked at the market space for products that we could use as well, thinking, “It’s going to take people, process, and technology.” We had the people piece. With BSI, we had the process piece. What was absent was the technology component. How do you leverage technology in order to identify the critical pieces of information inside of an organization? That was our challenge. Did we have a product? No. We had a concept.
Sramana Mitra: The way you went to market was you had a concept and found some customers who were willing to give you service contracts to put this together for them. That’s what you’re saying?
Chuck Bloomquist: Exactly. We spent a lot of time educating people. Like you said, we started identifying people who identified with the idea. It made sense to them and they were willing to invest in the service contract with us.
Sramana Mitra: How did you get that profile?
Chuck Bloomquist: A lot of smiling and dialing. We spent our days sitting across the desk from each other just calling, calling, and calling. We bought lists and went through the lists. When a door would open, we made sure that we were there to talk to them about what it is we do, how we do it, and why it’s relevant for them. Slowly but surely, people started embracing the idea. When a couple of breaches hit the marketplaces, that was the real indicator for us. People started paying attention at that point in time and started looking at security as more than just a perimeter device. That was the turning point in the industry for us.
Sramana Mitra: First and foremost, during that time, what was your core thesis and how did that relate with the rest of the industry at that time? What was the competitive landscape? What were the trends in the industry? What did you see was the opportunity?
Chuck Bloomquist: The industry was looking at the security marketspace and telling the marketplace that it was going to be a device that was going to solve their problem. It could be a router, firewall, or an IDS/IPS that would provide them with some sort of real-time protection system. Our proposition was, “You’re not approaching the risk from a risk standpoint. Instead, you’re just trying to blanket the edge of the network with some sort of a protective layer.”
We started talking to people about identifying the different types of data inside the environment and applying value to it. It could be today’s value based on what the market is paying that company for that information. If you’re a manufacturer, it’s your design. If you’re in the pharmaceutical space, it’s your formula. All of those things are highly relevant to the organization and they need a dedicated process in order to ensure that type of information didn’t cross certain boundaries. Now, it’s beyond the capabilities of an IDS/IPS at that point in time.