Growing ScienceLogic | Business
Ideas are dime a dozen and can strike at any moment, whether we’re shopping for groceries, driving during our morning commute, picking up our kids from school, or waiting in long TSA lines at the airport. In most cases, our ideas generate as simple solutions to our own everyday problems, but sometimes they carry the potential to grow into highly successful business endeavors. According to industry studies, only two out of every 3,000 new products launched and a mere 1 out of every 100 ideas make it big. ScienceLogic is no different. It’s three founders, who were all previously working for large corporations, decided that there should be an easier way to monitor and manage IT systems. Just a few years later they find themselves nurturing a successful, growing company in their hands. Are they the one out of 100 ideas that will make it? Only time will tell…
Does the name of your company come from Hagel’s work, “The Science of Logic?”
We only wish that it did – it would be a cool story to tell. Actually our name came to us in a moment of clarity working in Chris Cordray’s basement in the early morning hours. We thought ScienceLogic was a great choice because we wanted to create a product that just worked and would make sense to the service providers, enterprises and public sector customers we expected to help.
We had lived the problem we were trying to solve. We knew that the real solution heavily involved metrics – about the health and performance of infrastructure – and we took a very pragmatic approach when it came to what to deliver in the solution. The best compliment we have gotten from customers is “this is what I would have built if I had done it myself.” Technologists who see EM7 just get it; we love the “aha” moment when they realize exactly what EM7 can do for them and why our unconventional approach just makes sense.
Why does the world need ScienceLogic and EM7 products? You offer an appliance based IT monitoring solution that in concept is a Plug and Play. There are numerous Open Source as well as reputable companies (HP, IBM, BMC, CA) in the market that offer solutions with similar capabilities and price points. Why should companies work with you?
We think everyone needs EM7. In the case of open source and the Big 4 – the problem is actually that they’re never plug and play. There is a great deal of integration work required to get them up and running, and it takes a lot of time and resources to get them to work for you.
It was very important that EM7 be an appliance. When you think of an appliance in general, you might think of a toaster. In the tech world, you probably think of a firewall, for instance. In both cases, an appliance is designed to be very simple to operate. It is purpose-built not to require subject matter experts to make it work – it just does. We bucked the trend of all the other solutions out there to make sure customers realized value from EM7 immediately – literally plug and perform. Instead of taking days or weeks to even stand up the product, EM7 works out of the box. There’s intelligence built into EM7 that ensures that even if you don’t have subject matter experts in certain areas, you’re still covered. And if you do have the experts, they’ll find the tools baked-in that they need to take EM7 monitoring to the next level.
You have been around since 2003 and you recently raised $15 million from venture capital. 7 years seems like an eternity for VC backed startups. What types of challenges have you encountered? What is the end game for you and your team?
Seven years of challenges and many more to come. We were lucky enough to be profitable after our first year of selling the product. In a lot of ways, it was really validation of our technology and our unconventional approach to solving what was an old problem. Customers believed in us from the very start and we can’t express enough gratitude for that. Being bootstrapped for 7 years wasn’t the easiest path to travel, but if we had wanted easy we wouldn’t have started this company and this kind of product to begin with. We could have been a point solution and aimed ourselves from the beginning for acquisition. We could have taken funding far sooner – and maybe have missed out on the huge cloud opportunity we now find ourselves ideally positioned for. In the end, we believed in our product vision and mission and were lucky to find the right VC partner at the right time – even seven years later.
We’ve seen a big shift in the market in the past seven years. In many ways, the market has come to us – the product was originally built with all the capabilities in mind that service providers need and with the arrival of cloud computing, our solutions are essential for that new market. That’s why we took the funding now; it was the right time, especially with the market push to cloud computing. With the funding, we’re able to move faster and have the flexibility to continue to build the product to meet the challenges that the market faces. We don’t really have an end game in mind at this point. We’re determined to continue providing the best product for the market and hope that we can help ease the frustrations for as many service providers, government and enterprise customers as possible while we do it.
You are involved in cloud based software offering. In layman’s terms, can you explain what cloud means and why should we care? Also, please explain why a company like Amazon would be involved in cloud offerings?
Cloud means doing more with less, working more efficiently and with resources in different locations. It’s having scalability in times of extreme need or crisis, and the ability to access your information securely and remotely. In fact, most everyone is already a user of cloud-based services (e-mail, online banking, Google Apps, SalesForce) whether they know it or not. It’s a new term for an old trend that’s been going on for a number of years. The cloud has been accelerated by the ubiquity of virtualization technologies, and more and more companies are looking to find a solution that fits their needs.
Someone like Amazon is involved in the cloud because they initially built a cloud based technology infrastructure for their own services (selling books and other items) – and now they are supporting others by leveraging this core business competency by providing a quick way to ramp-up and run business applications in the cloud.
Is the cloud going to change my life?
It already has, but you just don’t know it. Users now expect an always-on, on-demand, pay only for what you use environment – they want to be able to access their information from anywhere, on any computer, on any mobile device.
Storing information in the cloud is allowing companies to provide scalable and flexible services to end-users delivering a fascinating new set of products and services like never before.
You are all originally from large corporations like IBM and Verizon. How is doing business in a small company different than being part of a large company? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
There are many advantages of working as a small company. We are able to be nimble and adapt to whatever comes our way. We can work for our customers as true partners and dedicate ourselves to making our product work for them. The downside to that of course is that you have to do everything yourself. One of the biggest challenges of working within a small company is that the general infrastructure, whether it’s HR, finance etc., has to be done on your own. Sometimes the smaller tasks of simply running a business take up more time than we would like. Larger companies have the advantage of multiple departments focused on small areas, but often it’s hard for them to see the big picture. The good news is that with our recent funding, we can implement even more infrastructure and hire the right people to help us grow even faster.
Do you think that now is a good time to start a business in the Metro DC area? Why?
It’s always a good time in DC; it’s a fairly stable economy because of the federal government. The federal government is the largest buyer of technology in the world, and we’ve certainly found that location and proximity to the government does matter. It’s not as affected by the highs and lows of the market as other parts of the country. It is a very vibrant local economy that attracts some of the top talent in the world, in particular technology professionals.
How has your business been affected by the current downturn or perhaps double dip in the economy?
If you have a product that can demonstrate value by reducing costs or increasing efficiency, then you will be successful in a down economy. We definitely fit into that category, and actually experienced exponential growth during the downturn, earning us spots on the Inc. 500 list in ’08 and ’09 and the Deloitte Fast 500 in ’09.
Are you hiring?
Absolutely. We’re looking for exceptional talent in developers, technical support staff, sales and marketing. Our challenge (and it’s a great one to have) is to keep our bootstrap company culture, while expecting to nearly double in size over the next 12-18 months.
No regrets about starting the business – we’re delighted to have the opportunity to create a product that does everything that we were unable to do using other solutions. Every time we are able to help a customer succeed and use our product to do the things that they were not able to do with other tools – and able to do it more quickly and with ease; we count that as a victory. Seven years later, we are still passionate about what we do, and if we can make sure even one sysadmin doesn’t get that page in the middle of the night (because EM7 is on the job), then we’ve done our job.
Is there a must read book you recommend to all entrepreneurs?
There are a number of great books out there such as Jim Collins’ “Good to Great”. Another good one is “The Commanding Heights: The Battle for World Economy” by Daniel Yergin. It doesn’t deal a lot with entrepreneurship, but does deal with business and politics – and to run a business you have to understand how that works. If you’re in technology, “The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business” by Clayton M. Christensen is also a great read, as is “Where Have all the Leaders Gone” by Lee Iacocca, which is on ethics and leadership. But, the best resource out there for entrepreneurs is the Harvard Business Review podcast IdeaCast, which you can get online and on iTunes. Subscribe to them. Now. These are awesome and we consider them the best resource overall. One of the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur is finding other people who are also entrepreneurs and going through the same things you are. These podcasts provide great insight into some common problems and solutions that entrepreneurs run into.
What trend do you see in the upcoming year?
We’ll continue to see businesses navigating around cloud computing, people will start to use hybrid clouds even more, and the market will move with it. This increased diversity of environments really plays into EM7, which is designed to work in complex environments using different tools and systems.
The world has changed, consumers have changed and consumer tastes and preferences are making their way into business technology. There’s no real wall separating what a person uses and expects out of technology at home – iPad, App Store, Smart Phones – from what he would use and expect to use at work. The always-on, on-demand, pay for only what I use mentality is pervasive, and business technologies like cloud computing are a direct reflection of the impact of consumer technology and tastes on business.
Photos by Pronto Photography
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