Peter Yared has been involved in a mind-boggling number of startups. These are just those we know that he has turned into businesses and technologies which have been bought.
In our recent interview on the DealMakers podcast, Peter Yared shared his early experiences, how he has taken to coding just like any other form of communication, a number of his side projects turned sizable exits, why not to launch a startup in San Francisco, and the waste of being too early with an idea. Plus, what industries are booming in the wake of COVID-19.
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Citizen of The World
Yared experienced a flurry of countries and cultures growing up. He was born in Geneva to an American mother and Lebanese father.
In Switzerland, he learned to speak French. Then finding himself in the Middle East and Turkey, Peter learned English.
After London, they moved to Austria where he picked up German. All of this before landing in Washington DC at just 14 years old. These were all building block experiences that taught him about different perspectives.
Getting Into Computers
His earliest experiences on computers were on the Apple II and the Commodore. Coding was just another language. One which he quickly mastered and used to create games.
By the time Peter was in high school he was already working for the government. A government contractor put him on Macintosh SEs, and he began to program. The built systems for the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Then he found the University of Maryland. They didn’t require pre-requisite classes. A big draw for the smart, entrepreneurial geek. Sergey Brin was also one of them.
Peter’s first ‘project’ came out of building client/server tools on top of an existing language. He found it amazing that just one person could build workable enterprise-class software. He did.
Then he ended up being bought out of his royalties on the project. It was probably less than $100k, but it was a start.
He used the money to fund himself doing it over again. This time creating j.rad, when a friend at an Apple conference in Sweden recommended he check out Java. That was acquired by NetDynamics, which in turn was acquired by Sun Microsystems. It was a $200M deal.
During his time at Sun Microsystems, Peter Yared got to be on the other side of the table. He helped buy many other companies. Even public companies.
Then he fell in love with Python and went onto his next venture WaveMaker. This is where he learned the pain of being too early. Almost 10 years in this case. Then the pain of pivoting too late and playing catch up too. Timing is everything in a startup.
He learned that while you may have a vision, you still have to watch where the market is going and iterate with it. Sometimes that is going to mean resetting everything. In these cases, it is better to do it big and once, rather than incrementally.
Once An Entrepreneur, Always An Entrepreneur
Transpond was Peter’s next project. One built on a thesis that people preferred aggregators over visiting individual websites. Their customers included NBC and CBS.
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Unfortunately, the 2007 financial crisis hit. They went into survival mode for years. Their investors fell apart and partners were changed on them. Ultimately they made it through to being bought by Oracle.
He ended up spending some time working with CBS. Even as CIO.
As always he had another side project going. This time it was Postano. A new kind of news aggregator. That was also bought by a small public company, Tiger Logic.
He left CBS with his cofounder and started Sapho. It was another startup that really took off.
Here he encountered a new lesson. The thing to do at the time seemed like you should move to San Fran, get a cool looking space, and hire some people. They soon found out that Google could easily beat their max offers by $50k or more. Even for engineers that weren’t that great.
Engineers were getting smarter too. They knew how to figure out the numbers on equity, and realized that even with a $250M exit they often didn’t stand to win much at all. They turned to international connections and began to hire remotely in Prague. It may require getting on a plane or time on video calls. Yet, we all know it is past time for this way of working. The coronavirus has made sure of that.
Their enterprise software startup had large customers like Johnson & Johnson and Fannie Mae.
They raised $28M. After a year of working on a deal, Citrix acquired Sapho for $225M. All in just over four years from launching it. It is one of those offers you just don’t say no to.
Next Stop: InCountry
Not one to sit idle for long, Peter Yared is now on his most recent project. A little company he began by seeding with $1M of his own money.
It took off faster than expected. In three months InCountry had raised another $5M. Now they are up to $21M in funding. Among their investors are Felicis, Caffeinated, Mubadala Capital, Arbor Ventures, and Global Founders Capital.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Peter was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below
They are a big data startup that sells the ability to process and store data locally to comply with national jurisdictional requirements around the globe. Think about the new data regulations that apply not to all websites, but in particular big and important fields like healthcare and banking.
While COVID-19 has certainly brought a lot of disruption and personal tragedy, and we can’t underestimate that pain, it has been good for companies like InCountry.
Peter says it has dramatically accelerated the need for their services. Too many companies have found themselves lagging when it comes to digital, and now they must act, fast and with the confidence they are getting the best solutions available.
Listen in to the full episode to find out more, including:
- How to look at problems and find solutions
- How inCountry is helping with this transition and compliance
- How he met one of his investors at a meditation retreat
- The wisdom in listening and learning from others