Sramana Mitra: The fact that you decided to go in this direction, does this have anything to do with your background in facilities management?
James Litton: No. The decision to go down this path was multi-faceted. I had known Troy since the Coca Cola days. We had stayed connected. Troy had really grown up around identity management. In fact, the project that I had him working on for me, whenever I was at Coke, was an identity management project. It was helping to move us from one computing platform, which was a NetWare platform, over to a Microsoft platform.
Troy stuck with that in his career. He was bored with what he was doing at Veritas, which is why he decided to leave and start Identity Automation helping Novell in their implementation. We saw this opportunity in the market. We thought, “We could actually turn that into a real revenue generating business.” We toyed around with this idea for quite some time. It was really just taking something that we were both already familiar with from our corporate experience and ultimately just seeing an opportunity in the market. That was ultimately why we went down that path.
Sramana Mitra: What kinds of clients did you go after? Were these mid-sized companies that you were trying to do these kinds of installations for? Where did you focus your expertise?
James Litton: This is one of the areas where I would say we got lucky. Being an entrepreneur, it’s a combination of things that work for you. A lot of it is being smart and very cautious and some of it is luck. This is one of the areas where I would say we got lucky. As we started down our path, Novell had us working with some of their education customers, where we saw a huge opportunity. This was 100% identity automation driven. At this point, we thought, “These education customers are going through a transformational experience. They’re having to provide services to people that they’ve never had to provide services to before.” We can take what we’re doing and apply this to school districts across the country. That’s what we zeroed in on. We saw this large untapped market in the K-12 industry. It was on K-12 that we built Identity Automation.
Sramana Mitra: That’s awesome. One of the big things that we always focus on in terms of methodology is figuring out a segment into which you can go and really zero in and build a repeatable business. It sounds like Novell almost brought you into K-12 and that’s where you got your segment traction.
James Litton: Again, we had been doing work with our partners – not just Novell. We had been working with all types of companies. We did work with big companies like eBay and Canada Health. We had done a lot of projects. It was really the couple of projects that we did for these K-12 organisations where we saw the niche. I felt that we really needed to focus on one thing.
Sramana Mitra: Can you set this for me in a timeline? You said you started the consulting in earnest in 2006. How long did it go in this assorted projects mode before you hit upon the K-12 niche opportunity?
James Litton: It was almost right away. I came down to Houston in late 2006. It was right after that starting December 2006. By 2007, we were pretty firmly entrenched on K-12.