Sramana Mitra: If I were you, I’d take more of that responsibility on the fact that you didn’t necessarily know how to explain it to investors. If you did, this is not so difficult to understand.
Andrew Plato: I suppose. It is true that it took a lot of iterations to figure out how to describe the platform. The message there is that it’s the context problem. When you don’t have good context, you really need to be able to tell the story and you’ve to think about how the story will be heard and not how the story is being told.
It took me multiple iterations to figure out how to tell that story so it could get heard the way it needed to be heard. The VCs who got it were savvy VCs. The first guy who got it was Tim Porter at Madrona. A lot of that has got to do with my ability.
This, too, is a somewhat of a recurring theme in my career. How do you refine the story? How do you refine the message so that the people you’re telling it to will understand why this is such a big deal. My experience at Microsoft is just that. These developers weren’t bad people. It was more that they didn’t understand and I didn’t know how to properly explain it to them.
Sramana Mitra: Today if you have that situation, people would understand it better. At that time, these major security breaches were less known. Today, the technology industry is much more aware of cyber security breaches and gaps.
At that time, the software industry was immature. The developers didn’t have the level of awareness that today’s developers do have on cyber security holes. Is there anything else that you did strategically in your journey that is worth sharing?
Andrew Plato: I would highlight one thing that was a very important part of my journey. Whenever I speak to other entrepreneurs and leaders, I highlight this as one of the keys to my success.
Perseverance is key. Big movements like what I’ve done don’t happen quickly. Everything has to happen slowly over time. Typically, you don’t have a lot of money when you’re in the early stages of the company. You have to do things in small incremental bits. That’s what worked for me.
I ran a company for 20 plus years before we got funded. A lot of people ask why it took so long. I would have never been able to do it had I not done all that before.
Sramana Mitra: This is the philosophy upon which the One Million by One Million program was founded. You don’t have to do everything so fast. Doing things at hyper speed and trading off every other priority in your life is overrated. It’s not necessarily a wise way of living life.
Andrew Plato: It really isn’t. In my case, I think it’s little by little you have to keep making changes to slowly get to what you want. The first step is knowing what it is you want.
If you have a clear idea of what it is you want to get to, all you got to do is work your way backwards from that and say, “How can I start turning this dial so that, every day, I’m turning it closer to what I want?” You get setbacks and distractions. I had to keep at this and there were a lot of people distracting me.
There’s also casualties of the process. You have to be willing to accept that when you make changes and you go through these things, there’s probably people around you who won’t agree with you and are not going to support you. You just got to wish them well and send them out the door.
Sramana Mitra: Wonderful. Great story! I enjoyed listening to you. Thank you for your time.