Like many of you, I have been reflecting on the past year as we all look for our fresh start in 2017.
2016 has been a year of firsts for me, including starting a company and becoming a CEO. With first time experiences, you succeed, you fail, and you hopefully figure out how to either replicate the success or do it differently based on what you learned.
Here is what I learned while starting up: it is all about building a foundation to succeed.
Zylo’s mission is to build the next generation platform for companies to optimize their cloud investments. That foundation is comprised of independent areas, that when combined, are what you need in order to stand a chance as a brand new company. You know, the whole is greater than the sum of parts Aristotle kind of thing.
Team – I can’t do this alone. Thankfully I learned this lesson as a kid while participating in team sports. Previously, I had never run a product team and I had never sold to IT and procurement. I am lucky to have a co-founder that ran product for the largest email provider in the world; another who built and led procurement at a SaaS company; and an engineering genius who has solved huge challenges for the largest companies in the world. And they have as much passion for Zylo as I do.
Customers – Every company has the stage where they win that game-changing customer. In the early days, every customer is a game changer and we were fortunate enough to partner with customers early on that share our vision and passion for where we are going. This is so important because these customers are what help you decide what to build and also become your early advocates.
Investors – To build a SaaS company today—unless you have very unique circumstances—you need more money and more help than you think. For Zylo to become an industry force, we have surrounded ourselves with people that believe in us, see the vision for cloud optimization as clearly as we do, and can contribute to our success through their expertise and networks. Thank you to every investor and customer for your early support.
Friends – The early days of a startup can seem glamorous when you read the press releases about money raised and new customers won. Some days really are like that, but others are hard as hell, not to mention lonely. You don’t start with a scalable sales model, inbound leads and a product that flies off the shelf—especially when building a new category. Most of your early customers will come from referrals from industry peers and friends. We are fortunate to have some great friends. Ones that believe in what we are doing and are rooting for us.
My team hears me say this all the time: “No bad bricks, only good ones” when stressing quality in everything we do. I don’t know all of the answers to get to $100 million in revenue or to become a unicorn, but I am confident that with great teammates, investors, customers, and friends, and working forward brick by brick, we have a chance to make it to the top and to build the next generation platform for companies to optimize their cloud investments.
I wish you and your family all the best in 2017.