Zvi has built a $25M a year in profitable revenue with $20M in venture capital from Sequoia and other investors.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Zvi Guterman: I was born in a small village of Israel to a family of farmers. I feel fortunate that we are changing the world in a small way. We are able to influence people today in such an easy way. Sometimes when you have a long day with funding issues and customers, I reflect back and miss the simplicity of a farm life.
Sramana Mitra: I hear you. How did you end up from a farm life to tech life? Help us trace your journey?
Zvi Guterman: I went to college at Israeli Institute of Technology. I did my Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science. Later on, I also did my PhD in Computer Science. I was fortunate that I was born in the early 70’s. Growing up, there was my background and heritage and on the other hand, there was the revolution of the personal computer.
Even in high school, I was already exposed to that. We were programming a greenhouse in my high school. We had a huge greenhouse and we were trying to put controllers and have the windows open according to the level of light. It’s so exciting. At the same time, I had my personal computer. I felt that it was my destiny.
Sramana Mitra: When did you finish your PhD?
Zvi Guterman: In 2003.
Sramana Mitra: What happened right after you finished your PhD?
Zvi Guterman: I started a company. A friend, who had a business background, suggested that we join forces. We planned to start a security company. I knew about the technology and he had a business background. The timing was good.
Sramana Mitra: Why was it so easy to raise financing in 2003?
Zvi Guterman: It was not super easy because security at that time wasn’t so popular like it is today. We had some pushback on security but my co-founder was already a COO of a public company out of Israel. Before that, he had an amazing career in the Israeli army. The thing that played to our favor was we came with a very concise and simple idea of a firewall to the rest of the communication protocols – USB, Bluetooth, and Infrared. USB was the biggest one. We got a lot of no’s and maybe’s.