Deepak Balakrishna, Co-founder CEO of Adya, which was acquired by Qualys. We review his lessons from the trenches, steering a Bootstrapping to Exit transaction.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with at the 1Mby1M premium program with Adya, which was acquired by Qualys. Qualys, as you might know, is a public cyber security company. Adya was also in the cyber security space. I invited Deepak to talk about exit strategy and what he went through.
We often do bootstrapping to exit scenarios, in particular, in sectors where the market is extraordinarily crowded and also full of innovation. Bootstrapping to exit is a real option there. Deepak, having traveled that journey, would be a great resource to give you lessons from the trenches. Why don’t we start with your journey with Adya?
Deepak Balakrishna: Adya was a cloud security company focused on data exposure problems. What that means is that it’s very easy for people to share documents when you have cloud applications. These applications make it very easy to share data, but that’s a double-edged sword. IT has no idea which employees are doing this within their company. Outside of the company, it’s common to share with contractors. That’s a point of data exposure. We have a tool that’s helping IT get a view of what data exists, what is being shared by whom and to whom.
Sramana Mitra: You were doing this out of India right?
Deepak Balakrishna: Yes, that’s correct. I started this in early 2017.
Sramana Mitra: What financing strategy did you follow with Adya?
Deepak Balakrishna: Initially, we bootstrapped. We also did reach out to some angels and some VC funds. We had no proof points. It was very hard, especially in India at that time. We spent a lot of time trying to raise funds. We put that aside and ended up bootstrapping for the first year and a half.
Sramana Mitra: You did get a little bit of angel money, right?
Deepak Balakrishna: Towards the end. For the first year and a half, we didn’t. At the end of 2018, we got about $250,000.
Sramana Mitra: In terms of timeline, at what point of the evolution of the company did you start thinking about exits. What did you have in the company at that point?
Deepak Balakrishna: We had a product. We started the company in early 2017 and we had a pivot around middle of 2017. The original idea wasn’t working out. By early 2018, we put out the first version of the product. We had 10 customers by June 2018. We had a product and a few customers. At that point, you introduced us to Qualys. We were looking for a GTM partner. We weren’t looking for an exit when we first talked to Qualys, but that quickly evolved.
Sramana Mitra: I will talk about the circumstance that led me to introduce you to Qualys. At that time, I had lunch with Philippe Courtot who’s the Founder and CEO of Qualys who unfortunately passed away last year. He really wanted to build a lot of acquisition-driven product ideas within the Qualys portfolio. He actually talked to me about wanting to acquire Indian companies. When I came back from that lunch, I immediately emailed you about opening discussions with Qualys.
This segment is part 1 in the series : 558th 1Mby1M Entrepreneurship Podcast with Deepak Balakrishna, Adya