Sramana Mitra: What was your experience in raising Series A?
Tomer Shiran: It was a very good one. We went through the process. We mapped out which investors we knew that we wanted to discuss this with. We probably met six or seven investors. A majority of them were interested in investing in the Series A. About a month later, we signed the term sheet with both Lightspeed and Redpoint co-leading our $12 million Series A.
Sramana Mitra: What drove that choice of Lightspeed and Redpoint?
Tomer Shiran: The first thing is it’s preferable if you can raise from tier one investors. They have the brand.
Sramana Mitra: Your other term sheets were not from tier one investors?
Tomer Shiran: They were as well. Our entire list was tier one investors. You do that and it makes it easier later on. It was also due to the combination of existing relationships. I had worked with Lightspeed previously. They were the first Series A investors at MapR and knew them very well from sitting in dozens of board meetings together.
Sramana Mitra: It was a relationship.
Tomer Shiran: Yes. Also, their reputation in the space was a reason. They were the first investors in AppDynamics and Mulesoft. Then we had a really good series of meetings with the folks at Redpoint and then we met with Tomasz who was an investor in another data company. He was very familiar with the space. He was very aware of the problem and had done a lot of his own research prior to our meeting with him.
I really enjoyed those conversations and his understanding of the market as well and felt that he could contribute a lot through that understanding with his experience. You may have read some of his blog as well. He’s very familiar with SaaS. We thought that those two would be a great combination. I talked to a number of other CEOs where he was on the Board. I did my own reference check and they were all very positive.
Sramana Mitra: How much did you raise?
Tomer Shiran: $12 million.
Sramana Mitra: For a Series A, $12 million on just a concept. Interesting. That’s at the end of 2015?
Tomer Shiran: Middle of 2015.
Sramana Mitra: What happens next?
Tomer Shiran: We then spent the next two years building the product and the team. In the beginning, we were just hiring the first few engineers. That was all we were focused on. We went one engineer at a time. That worked out really well. I was spending more time with potential customers.
Sramana Mitra: Who were your lighthouse customers? Who were the customers who were really helping you frame the product?
Tomer Shiran: We were working with companies like Intel and Transunion.
Sramana Mitra: What were the use cases?
Tomer Shiran: They had data in modern systems where they wanted to make it simpler to make that data accessible to their internal users.
Sramana Mitra: So it’s internal intranet kind of use cases?
Tomer Shiran: Yes, it’s an analytics product. When companies use it, they are also using it or their external customers, but mostly it’s for the employees within the company.