Tomer Shiran: Somewhere in the company, we have some data about our customers and business, but we don’t have that ability to ask questions and get an answer because the data is in so many places and it’s in various different structures. It really requires a lot of engineering effort to do anything with it.
The user that has the need to answer this question don’t have the necessary skills or the access to be able to do that. That was the premise. It was to see if we could solve that problem. It’s not, by any means, a new problem but one that companies have struggled with for a very long time. We thought that that provided an opportunity to do something very different from anything that had been done before in the world of analytics.
Sramana Mitra: How did you approach the problem? What was the solution that you were going to build when you decided to leave? I’m not asking what you ended up building. What was your hypothesis in terms of leaving MapR to start this company?
Tomer Shiran: We thought that we could build a system that would connect to your various data sources and expose them to the users that need access to that data on their own.
Sramana Mitra: You were planning to do this in a B2B mode?
Tomer Shiran: Absolutely. This is a enterprise type of product.
Sramana Mitra: At what point did you leave?
Tomer Shiran: It was the summer of 2015.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do next?
Tomer Shiran: We had conversations with a number of companies that we knew from our relationships to get some initial validation knowing that we would need some level of validation before we could raise money. We did that. We shared the idea. We shared a few slides at that point with a number of key decision makers or senior people. We got really good feedback. We took that feedback. It’s not like a startup that does applications. The cost of creating an application can be a lot lower. Here without raising money, it would be impossible to do anything. We decided to raise a Series A.
Sramana Mitra: To raise Series A, what did you have? What did you put in place before you went out to raise Series A?
Tomer Shiran: We put together a business plan.
Sramana Mitra: In terms of validation, what did you put together? Did you have 50 customers conversations that were referenceable?
Tomer Shiran: More like 10. We were also coming from this domain. Because of having been one of the first employees at MapR, a lot of this was familiar territory. It wasn’t like I was trying to do something different. There was a question of, “Is there a market that’s big enough?” With the investors that we met, they were obvious needs. It didn’t require a lot of justifying. It was more a matter of, “Will customers pay for this?” A lot of the investment was investment in the team and the market.
Sramana Mitra: Your colleague was from what functional area? What was the background?
Tomer Shiran: I was the product guy. He’s the engineer.
Sramana Mitra: The two of you are the co-founders.
Tomer Shiran: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: You have a co-founding team that has good strong domain knowledge and you have talked to 10 customers. That’s what you’re going out to raise Series A with.
Tomer Shiran: Yes.