Yes, concept financing still happens from time to time, especially for fat startups, but you need to have deep domain knowledge, and strong investor relationships, to pull one off.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and what kind of background?
Tomer Shiran: I was actually born in Israel. At the age of one, I moved to the United States so that my dad could do his Ph.D. at Stanford. I spent the next 10 years living in the Bay Area. This was early 80’s. I was on Stanford campus most of the time. Then, we moved back to Israel when I was about 11. I then went through middle school and high school there. I did my military service and undergraduate at the Technion.
I studied Computer Science. Then I went to work as a software engineer for IBM Research, then for Microsoft working on security products. At that point, I decided to move into a product role focusing more on product management at Microsoft. Now I had my own family. My wife decided to move to the US. That’s what brought me back here. We did a Master’s at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh and moved out of the Bay Area and back to work. I was one of the first employees at a company called MapR. I was the VP of Product there.
Sramana Mitra: What year was that?
Tomer Shiran: 2009.
Sramana Mitra: How long were you at MapR?
Tomer Shiran: I was at MapR for about five and a half or six years.
Sramana Mitra: That brings us to about 2014?
Tomer Shiran: Yes, MapR has grown a lot. I joined when we were four people and left when it was several hundred. I decided to leave with a colleague of mine and started Dremio.
Sramana Mitra: What was the premise of Dremio? What were you leaving MapR to start based on your market analysis?
Tomer Shiran: I was deep in the world of data and analytics. What I observed through working with hundreds of companies is how difficult it was to take advantage of their data. We had gotten to a point in the 2014 to 2015 time-frame where it was clear that data is the biggest asset that companies have. It’s what allows them to differentiate from their competitors.
The technical challenge of taking advantage of that was enormous. That led me to start thinking about what would an ideal world look like. At that time, I had three kids. It was amazing how easy it was to deal with information in their personal lives. They’d go on Google. My daughter asked for her homework. She needed to know how much larger the Sun is compared to the Earth. She got a specific answer. It made me think about how much more difficult those types of questions are to answer at work when we, in theory, should have the information.