After creating the SD-WAN market with the founding of Viptela, and subsequently selling the company to Cisco in 2017, it was time to look for another significant market to transform. We had learned several lessons with Viptela about successfully creating and scaling a startup, including things to do and things not to do.
When we started thinking holistically about our next play, we entered the search with a set of guideposts on how to come out of the gate with a game-changing offering, and a built to scale company. These success factors include:
Smart money: The best investors are partners, advisors, and coaches, and ideally they are familiar faces from previous ventures. With a solid track record and an innovative offering, money itself is relatively easy to come by. Great investors are not. We are pleased to have top tier venture capital firms Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, and GV (formerly Google Ventures) as our investors. Thanks to these relationships and the industry significance of our offering, we were able to fully fund Series A in a few weeks, which is very fast, even by Silicon Valley standards.
Great team: Startups require a unique skill profile. Technical, driven, rabidly focused on customer success, and capable of doing a broad set of things, including strategic work as well as getting their hands dirty when needed. The Alkira team is very senior and has been through a startup’s early days as well as the later growth phases. It’s a real pleasure to look at the team and see the unmatched depth of talent and experience we’ve assembled (and a lot of familiar faces from previous companies).
Customer success: Solving the tech is just one piece. The spine of the company has to be built on customer success, taking the time to internalize their problems and needs, and always standing behind them. I couldn’t be more proud of the dedication of the Alkira team in working with our initial customers, with a white glove, 24/7, “whatever it takes” success approach.
A clean sheet of paper: A majority of established companies have their hands tied due to supporting existing projects. At best, they incrementally innovate on top of their existing solutions. Catching industry transitions requires a ground-up comprehensive approach to solving major customer problems, while others continue to force-fit existing solutions. The Alkira Cloud Services Exchange™ (CSX), with an array of newly patented technologies and industry firsts, delivers a purpose-built multi-cloud network and services solution envisioned to transform the cloud networking market.
Significant customer problem: The key is to focus on a problem that occupies the minds of both executives and technical teams due to its impact on overall enterprise business performance. And significant problems come with real budgets. Today, that big, unsolved problem is cloud networking, as we’ll explore further.