Sramana Mitra: The $2.5 million of seed capital that you raised, what was the next milestone? How long did it take you from there to deliver your first product?
Loris Degioanni: Based on my background and experience with open source, I decided that I wanted to approach this second adventure with an open source philosophy. This was very important. That was our strategy and vision early on.>>>
Eghosa Omoigui: We have four investment thesis that we’ve talked about internally, but this is the first time we’re sharing them outside. One of them is that there is a recognition that in many submarkets in Africa, almost all economic activities are offline. It continues to be offline.
There was a very large opportunity, in our view, where you can build a defensible moat where you could organize the offline activities and bring that online. One example of that, where we invested in at the seed stage, is a company called Printivo.>>>
Loris Degioanni: These dynamics towards micro-services means that these companies can essentially break their software into smaller pieces and then use APIs to talk to each other. This spawned a massive industry that is led by the cloud vendors and by open source projects like Kubernetes.
I witnessed the creation of these industries and immediately thought, “We should focus on this. This is new and very different. Managing and observing a software that is split into a thousand little pieces is very different than monitoring a giant monolith.”>>>
I’m publishing this series on LinkedIn called Colors to explore a topic that I care deeply about: the Renaissance Mind. I am just as passionate about entrepreneurship, technology, and business, as I am about Art and Culture. In this series, I will typically publish a piece of Art – a painting, a poem, a piece of music, so forth – and I request you to spend a minute or two deeply meditating on it. I urge you to watch your feelings, thoughts, reactions to the piece, and write what comes to you, what thoughts it triggers, in the dialog area. Let us see what stimulation this interaction yields. For today – Rice Terraces, Harvest
Rice Terraces, Harvest | Sramana Mitra, 2013 | Water color, Brush Pen, Ink and Pastel | 12 x 18, On Paper
Eghosa Emoigui: I decided that it made sense to look at those emerging markets. I ended up picking Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, in part, because they felt very highly-correlated. You had very similar signals in these markets that suggested they would evolve.
I went out to those two markets. I had no luck, because everybody thought I was insane. Those two markets were completely uninteresting in 2011. I then decided that I was not going to quit. I picked sub-Saharan Africa and went into that.>>>
BioConnect CEO Rob Douglas has built a thriving founder-financed business from Toronto using very sophisticated strategic maneuvering. I just loved discussing the strategic nuances of this business. You’ll learn a LOT from reading this story.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Rob Douglas: I’m a Canadian. I was born just outside of Toronto. I have grown up in and around the city of Toronto. I’m married. I have two kids. Both of them are in their 20’s. I have spent most of my entrepreneurial life primarily focused on markets outside of Canada. US and EMEA have been primary markets over my career.
According to IBIS World Research, US-based web design services industry is expected to grow 6.6% annually to $38.3 billion by the end of 2019. Israel-based Wix (Nasdaq:WIX) recently announced its first quarter results that failed to meet the market’s expectations. But the better than expected outlook helped keep the stock soaring.>>>
Sramana Mitra: You started your next company in 2012?
Loris Degioanni: 2013. I left Riverbed in 2012. My rotation period with Riverbed was for two years. Despite being very happy at Riverbed and despite learning a lot, I was infected with the bug of being an entrepreneur. It’s really hard to get rid of. Even in the nicest places, I don’t think I can work for somebody else.
I need to wake up, feeling that I am making a difference. I couldn’t feel that at Riverbed. The company was successful. I was contributing, but I couldn’t find that path on what I was doing. Also, you don’t have ownership. I prefer to have situations where I am have more control and impact.>>>