Sramana Mitra: You were Head of Technology there and Feris joined as the Head of Sales?
Feris Rifai: Yes, I joined as Head of Sales and Business Development at that time.
Sramana Mitra: What is the name of the company?
Ryan Stolte: The company is called Caspio.
Sramana Mitra: Caspio is still around?
Ryan Stolte: It is. I can fill in the gaps there.
Sramana Mitra: Go ahead. Give a little bit of what happened at Caspio. Under what circumstances did the two of you pair up to start Bay Dynamics?
Ryan Stolte: We were starting an ASP at that time. You call it a cloud company now. We built this company in 2001 effectively. We got to a point where we had a good product but with wrong timing. We looked out at the opportunity and decided that the right move for all of us would be to move on to another opportunity. That would give the original founders some flexibility financially to just let the company exist.
We had learned, through that hard time, that we had a compatible business and personal ethics. We enjoyed working together. The founder of that company had other personal interests. I think he wanted to do more philanthropical activities for a while. It was in hibernation mode. It survived that way for quite a while before he came back and tried to rejuvenate it. Ultimately, that led to us deciding to form Bay Dynamics.
Sramana Mitra: What was the premise of Bay Dynamics? What idea did you come up with to decide to work on together? What was the market analysis behind that?
Feris Rifai: We sat down at a Starbucks at Saratoga, California and said, “It doesn’t matter if we’re baking bread. If we surround ourselves with like-minded souls that are passionate about being successful together, we’re going to have a great quality of life.” At that point, both Feris and I had these experiences of an entrepreneurial nature and had been in environments that were stifling to that. We’ve had some good bottles together and knew that it didn’t really matter what we do.
When you are around people who are also entrepreneurial and want to work hard together, you get this value of one plus one equals three. Before we knew exactly what we wanted to do, we set out to say, “We’re going to enjoy this ride together. We’re going to have a great lifestyle. We want to work hard. Let’s go out there and build a company and find those like-minded souls.” At that same time, we ended up doing more analytics consulting. We had a pent up demand from people we already knew. We were out doing consulting. Day one, Bay Dynamics started as a consultancy. We helped people leverage data and analytics en route to getting good recommendations.
Ryan Stolte: I’d like to jump in here. There are a couple of things that I think are important. I’d like to say that we started Bay Dynamics as an excuse to work together. If we were submitting a business plan for an MBA class, we probably would have failed. Being with like-minded people allowed us to share the experience. Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be very lonely if you don’t have a trusted friend with you who can help you. That’s one of the key things for us. We were like-minded. We share the same values. We treat people around us the same way and we wanted to build on that. The fact was we rotated towards our strength and the areas of expertise that we had. For us, the journey began that way.