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Bootstrapping Using Services: Bay Dynamics Co-Founders Feris Rifai and Ryan Stolte (Part 7)

Posted on Sunday, Jan 10th 2016

Sramana Mitra: Talk about the new product, and how did you identify the new product definition? How did you achieve product market fit?

Ryan Stolte: Through this relationship we had and the amount of breadth of customers that we were exposed to, we did get in front of a lot of these customers. They would say, “That was great what you did there. I have tremendous visibility into that product. Here’s my real problem.” These roots as a problem solver and consultancy never left us—staying close to our customers and really listening to their problems and pain. We had the opportunity to uncover what the new pains were.

At this time in 2010, there was this giant amount of security data and people didn’t really know what to do with it. For each one of these breaches, the raw data is there. People were having a very difficult time turning that raw data into something that they should actually do in order to improve their security. Back in 2010, working with a very large financial organization, we got to this point where people were trying to answer top line business level questions. They’d say, “I have a huge amount of people handling sensitive data every single day. My security systems are generating lots of noise about what those people are doing. Here’s what I need from you. I need you to take all that noise away and I need 50 people a day. I don’t care where you get the data.”

On the other side, they said, “I want you to tell me where my greatest risk is. Take all that security data that I’ve already invested in and help me understand how I’m doing so that I can communicate with my Board of Directors. I have lots of security technologies, but I have very little knowledge about what’s really going on.” That was a pervasive message that we were hearing. We set out on this mission to solve this problem – to give executives the insight they need to understand how bad off they were and what they needed to do to get better. Second, through all that noise, who do I really need to focus on and investigate who actually could be the small number of real threats that I have. Like that 50 names a day in a company of 300,000 people, those became the problems that executives we dealt with confided in us. We set out to solve that problem in around 2010.

Sramana Mitra: Back in 2010, you had identified where you were going and what you wanted to build. How long did it take you to launch this product?

Ryan Stolte: We built the product and iterated on versions of it with a small number of very large customers before we officially released it to the market. We were out in production at some of the largest financial institutions and some other organisations in that 2011 to 2012 timeframe before we said, “We found the right recipe.” We released it in 2013 after we found a way to make it a repeatable experience. The goal is, “I could take this to other large enterprises, turn it on, and without a very long implementation cycle, I can get this up and running and providing value.” We’ve matured it heavily in stealth mode before we officially launched it in 2013.

Sramana Mitra: How has the product done in the market?

Feris Rifai: We had a breakthrough in 2014. We grew by over 100%. The growth was driven by the product that we introduced. As we looked into 2015, we started building some of the foundational pieces to continue taking this to market. We ultimately changed and transformed ourselves. We hired a VP of Sales in the beginning of 2015. We hired a CMO. We started building around those leaders in a different area. That helped Bay Dynamics go to market and continue to brand ourselves as a company that can serve those needs. That was something that, as an OEM company, we didn’t have to do. That’s why the journey, while it began in 2014, led us to building all the different pieces. In late 2014, we also did a Series A and brought in investors.

Sramana Mitra: Whom did you raise money from?

Feris Rifai: Comcast Ventures.

Sramana Mitra: What’s interesting about your story is that you’ve went through several inflection points in your journey. You went from a services company, to an OEM company while maintaining some of the services businesses, and then eventually becoming a product company. It’s a very interesting trajectory in building a company. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping Using Services: Bay Dynamics Co-Founders Feris Rifai and Ryan Stolte
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