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Bootstrapping Using Services From Houston: Identity Automation CEO James Litton (Part 6)

Posted on Saturday, Mar 5th 2016

Sramana Mitra: The growth rate did not shift when you went from services to product?

James Litton: During the transition, on some level, it probably slowed. There were some critical things that we had to go through. As an entrepreneur, it’s scary. You’re going from something that you know into a world that you don’t know. It’s like starting the company all over again. I remember those early days of 2006.

As we started to make our shift, we’re faced with some of the same things again. We didn’t know how to position this. We had to go out and do some experimentation. We had to learn how to position the product. We had to learn the answers to some of the questions that you were asking, “Why would you take a risk on Identity Automation versus these more established products?” I would say during the 2010 to 2011 timeframe, growth slowed, but not dramatically. It might have been 20% growth.

Sramana Mitra: Between 2010 and 2015, what other major strategic moves did you make?

James Litton: I would say the number one thing that has been a focus for me, not only during those years, was being very cautious in spending. I’ve always been very cautious on how we add headcount. Managing expenses is number one, and I belive we should not get too excited and too far ahead of ourselves. Number two is being strategic in how we look at the market. There’s a number of things that we’ve done.

We started to pivot. We built the company on education, but not exclusively on education. We’ve had many significant enterprise wins. These are very large companies. In the past 24 months or so, we started to pivot to look at the enterprise market because we see huge opportunities there. We see that the area that we operate in has really shifted from a focus on compliance and scalability to being a core part of an organisation’s security strategy.

Sramana Mitra: Let me get a couple of question on that answered. In your K-12 work, whom were you seeing as competition? Now that you start focusing on enterprise, whom do you see as competition?

James Litton: In the K-12, there wasn’t a whole lot of competition. We started out in 2006 seeing that there were no other players here. Novell had a handful of customers but there’s only a few that could afford that type of solution. There was also a significant concern over the amount of time to implement. Tools Forever was a competitor but not a full-on competitor. We bumped up against them from time to time but there weren’t many others that we ran into. Enterprise world is completely different. Everybody is a competitor—IBM, CA, Oracle.

Sramana Mitra: Which is exactly why I asked the question. Is it wise to go into the enterprise with that kind of competitive landscape? How are you going to win?

James Litton: We think there are a number of ways we can win. First of all, the pivot to enterprise is critical to who we want to be as an organization. We want to build a company that has significant valuation for one thing. We want to own as much of the identity and access management landscape as possible. We take advantage of the shift that we’ve seen in how identity management is viewed.

Traditionally, the view has been compliance or scale. For most enterprise customers, it’s some kind of a compliance driver. As we see identity and access management now becoming a pure play security opportunity, that opens up the enterprise market in a new way. It’s not just enterprise Fortune 1000 type of companies that are pursuing these types of solutions.

Now, every organization regardless of size needs this type of solution in order to limit their risk. That’s where we see the opportunity. In the mid to large market, IBM, Oracle, and CA don’t have a play because those companies can’t afford those solutions. The mid to large sized market is a big target for us.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Bootstrapping Using Services From Houston: Identity Automation CEO James Litton
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