Poojan Kumar is the co-founder and CEO of Clumio which is a data backup and recovery software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. The company has raised close to $200M from Index Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Altimer Capital, and Human Capital. Kumar’s previous company, storage startup PernixData, was acquired by Nutanix.
In this episode you will learn:
- How to avoid the pain of needing to rebrand
- What to watch out for when naming your company
- Where the future of medicine is headed
- Colleen’s number one skill for work-life balance
- Why you need to investigate your investors as much as they do you
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About Poojan Kumar:
Poojan Kumar is the co-founder and CEO of Clumio which is a data backup and recovery software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider.
The company has raised close to $200M from Index Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, Altimer Capital, and Human Capital.
Kumar’s previous company, storage startup PernixData, was acquired by Nutanix. Prior to his entrepreneurial career, Poojan Kumar worked at Oracle and VMWare for almost 11 years.
He is a graduate from Stanford where he received his masters in Computer Science.
Connect with Poojan Kumar:
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FULL TRANSCRIPTION OF THE INTERVIEW:
Alejandro: Alrighty. Hello everyone, and welcome to the DealMakers show. We have today, a really exciting foreign entrepreneur—a foreign entrepreneur that came here to the U.S. and then he’s been, since then, building and scaling companies. We’re going to be learning about SaaS, and also about exits, and as well about raising money. So without further ado, Poojan Kumar, welcome to the DealMakers show today.
Poojan Kumar: Thank you. I’m really excited to be here.
Alejandro: So originally born and raised in India. It’s amazing, the great caliber of founders that I meet that are coming from India. Before we jump into your story with your companies, let’s jump into some of those early days because you were born and raised in India. How was life there?
Poojan Kumar: I spent the first half of my life, the first 20 years, in India. I was born in the city called Hyderabad, which is the fourth largest city in India and a lot of tech at this stage. If you go back when I was born, I don’t think there was a lot of tech out there, especially in Hyderabad. So, a lot of humble beginnings. I was born in a middle-class family. I grew up in school there. Like every other person out there, it was all about what you can do from a career perspective in a long-term, and the first step for that was about getting into a great school to educate yourself from an undergraduate perspective. I was very lucky. I spent a good amount of time in my early years studying and got into a top school called IIT, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, in the computer science division. Just a perspective: back then, and even more comparative now, I’m sure, but back then, there were only like five IITs and about 100,000 qualified people that wrote an exam. Maybe out of that, 150 out of them would get into the computer science division across all the five IITs. So I was fortunate to be among the 150 people who got into computer science. That, obviously, put a great foundation to learn a lot. The rigor that IIT puts in really helped me, and it still continues to help me in my career today. So that was my first 20 years of my life.
Alejandro: Out of curiosity, why do you think there are such great entrepreneurs coming from India, and especially, most of those have the engineering background. Computer science seems to be a really big thing there.
Poojan Kumar: Yeah, absolutely, and it has become even bigger. I think there’s a lot of self-selection at some level is happening. The top people across the country who decide—unless they’re going into a medical field, and stuff like that, especially if you’re talking about engineering. The top folks who end up in the engineering path end up going into computer science. Naturally speaking, at least from an IQ perspective, there’s, obviously, an IQ side of life. On the IQ side of life, you get a natural self-selection in places and fields like computer science.
Alejandro: That’s really great. Then you decide to come to the U.S. to Stanford. Why is that?
Poojan Kumar: I believe that you always need a little bit of luck in life. Obviously, hard work is needed with a bit of luck in life. Again, I was fortunate. I consider myself blessed. After graduating from IIT, out of all the IITs, even in the computer science division, you probably have four or five people show up in a place like Stanford Computer Science, and I was lucky to be one of those folks to get admitted into the Stanford Computer Science Department. That was the next level, or at least a lot of the beginnings of the next level of my career, where I not only got to learn a lot in those two years doing my Master’s in computer science. I was never a [0:05:42] sort of a guy. I always believed and always liked to do in the practical stuff that’s applicable in their life. So two years of rigorous Stanford education and also getting exposure to Silicon Valley and startups around you definitely left a lasting impression for me even after I left Stanford, which has been almost 18 years now.
Alejandro: So why going to Stanford and having all of that unbelievable innovation? Some of the most incredible companies have come out of Stanford. You still decide to do a little bit of corporate America.
Poojan Kumar: Yes. To answer the question about Stanford, it’s the number one school, in my opinion, in computer science. There are many great schools, but nothing matches Stanford in terms of the rigor they put you in. And also, the location of Stanford, where early on, you’re exposed to so many great startups coming out of Stanford and so many companies that come to Stanford. That was definitely a big driving force in terms of showing up in Stanford. Then, you graduate, and that’s when the real world starts.
Alejandro: Let’s talk about the real world.
Poojan Kumar: The real world, for me, was interesting. I spent ’99 to 2001 in Stanford. So I saw all the good times leading to the boom in 2000, and the crash in 2001. By the time I graduated, the frenzy was over. I was a system’s guy. I had done a lot of system courses and projects at Stanford, so I wanted to go to a company that does difficult problems, systems, and things like that. Back then, I had a couple of choices. There was a small company called VMware back in the day and Oracle database. I looked at both of those companies back then, and VMware was a startup, but I was like the usual thing, immigration, this and that. Who knew what VMware would become? So I ended up picking Oracle just because the database division had a lot of interesting work to do. I was very excited with the people that I met back then. I ended up at Oracle. That was the beginning of an almost ten-year journey where I grew a lot. I learned a lot. I was also very lucky in being in the right place at the right time to get an opportunity to work on something brand new in the first two years of my career, which ultimately became one of the most successful initiatives at Oracle called PernixData. Everything I learned there in terms of what it takes to create a product, what it takes to market it, sell it, and run a big team, I think, has been a lasting influence in whatever I did in the next ten years of my professional life.
Alejandro: Got it. You had this experience with Oracle, with VMware, and then you finally decide that it’s your time. It’s your time to go at it as an entrepreneur with PernixData. Why, after so long and why after so many years in corporate America did you decide it was time to forego that 9-to-5 paycheck and put the risk and go at it?
Poojan Kumar: I always had that gene to go in and take some chances. With Oracle, while everybody was working on what Oracle was known for, I took my chances and said, “I want to work on this new thing because I believe in this new thing.” To be successful in life, you have to be passionate about something or be good at something. Then you take some chances. That chance worked really well for me, but it was within a big company. I always was ready for the right time, and being an immigrant here, it’s all about making sure we have the green card and immigration situation worked out. That took a long time, obviously. When all of that was sorted out, I was like, “I’m ready to go to the outside world and try to do what I did within the safeguard of a big company. That was my first time into doing that in early 2012. After spending a couple of years at VMware, after Oracle, I decided to start my first company as a founder/CEO. That was a company called PernixData. That was centered around the big change that was happening in enterprise data centers with Flash replacing discs. We looked at that trend and decided to build a software company around leveraging that change that was happening in data centers.
Alejandro: At this point, you were a little bit older in your life. How old were you when you started PernixData?
Poojan Kumar: PernixData was started in 2012, so I was 32 or 33 years old. Again, a lot of it in the enterprise world, you see that where very rarely do you see enterprise companies being started by somebody just out of school. You see that more in the consumer world. In the enterprise world, you do require some big-time in terms of understanding, ultimately building complex systems—what it takes to build it, what it takes to lead it, what it takes to create a business out of it. That’s why typically you see—and I’m sure you’ve talked to many such entrepreneurs in the enterprise world, people start companies after [0:11:31] time and big-time. That’s what my [0:11:33] time and big-time put in 12 years across all of [0:11:35].
Alejandro: At the enterprise level, let’s say in your case, at what point do you know that you’re ready?
Poojan Kumar: Good question. At what point do you know when you’re ready? I think a couple of things have to pan out. One is, have you really seen creation of something and seen it in a scale up to a certain level. I think you need to have founder experience under your belt. That’s why I tell folks, “It doesn’t always have to be that you start something. It’s okay to sometimes join something early on because you get an opportunity to see the journey. When you start a company, you’re mentally prepared ought to be at the minimum, eight to ten-year journey if you’re lucky. And you want to be that. That’s at a minimum. Then the right companies, there’s no finish line, so you get yourself at a place where you’re both passionate about an idea, and you’re willing to go all in. And you have the expertise that you’ve seen how things grow, and what are the signs to watch out for when you are ready for that idea and whether that idea has legs. So all of that experience really helps, and experience in terms of things that you’ve seen from the beginning is the most valuable.
Alejandro: Got it. Let’s go back to PernixData. You come out of your rodeo in corporate, and now, you decide that it’s your time to shine on your own. You have this concept, this idea that you want to execute on. So the most important thing now is understanding who you want to put around you. What was that founding team like?
Poojan Kumar: My founding team was very straightforward. I had a buddy of mine at Stanford. We graduated at the same time. He went to VMware; I went to Oracle. I spent a decade at Oracle. He spent all that time at VMware. Then I came back to VMware after Oracle. We reconnected. It was the two of us who decided to start the company. He was the CTO, and I was the CEO.
Alejandro: So, the two of you seem to be quite technical. Did that present any issues?
Poojan Kumar: Actually, no. That’s another thing that I tell entrepreneurs who come and talk to me. When you’re a founding team, you want a team of folks, whether it’s two or three—it doesn’t matter what the number is. I’ll say it’s two or three people. You want that level of overlapping between the folks. At the same time, you want a discrete thing that each person is bringing to the table, ideally. In an ideal world, that’s what you want. I think we had exactly that. If you can imagine us as two circles, and there was a whole overlapping part, clearly. I was technical; he was technical. But he had gone very deep in terms of technology. I had gone broader in terms of product, marketing, sales, and had built teams. We had our parts of the diagram, so to speak that were not overlapping. Then we had an overlapping part, and I think you need both of them. I think we had a perfect mix.
Alejandro: What ended up being the business model here?
Poojan Kumar: It was a software company and a conceptually similar business model to VMware. We would go down and sale to VMware deployments, a piece of software that would run in servers and accelerate in storage. That was the fundamental business model of the software company.
Alejandro: You guys raised quite a bit of money for this. How much did you raise?
Poojan Kumar: That company had gone through three rounds of financing. 7 million, Series A. Another 20 million, Series B. And a 35-million-dollar Series C round. Overall, we had raised 62 million dollars over the four and a half years. The grew from a couple of us to almost a couple hundred people when it got acquired by Nutanix, four and a half years later.
Alejandro: That’s amazing. In terms of the fundraising, this was your first time. You were a first-time founder. Obviously, when you’re a first-time founder, it’s not as easy as now with your next venture where people are kind of like throwing money at you because you’ve been able to prove yourself. Also, because, as an investor, you’re not financing the education of the founder. In your case, how did you leverage your networks in order to get in front of the right people and close it?
Poojan Kumar: That is very hard. I’d be fooling folks if I say it’s a cakewalk. From the outside, it looks like that, but as a first-time entrepreneur, and in my case, as a first-time CEO, also, everything about it was hard and a very, very steep learning curve across the board from fundraising to creating a business. I talk about this to the folks, also—I say the same thing. “It is very hard, so be sure about what you’re doing. But the other thing that you have to absolutely do, especially if you’re in a situation like we were as first-time entrepreneurs, I think it’s about surrounding yourself with the right people. By that, I mean advisors to the company, investors to the company, board members. I think all of that is what you need because that’s the only way you’re going to make it in that steep learning curve. That’s exactly what we did. One of my mentors, and I’ve learned a lot from him, was Mark Leslie. He was a founder and CEO of Veritas. He’s on the board of all kinds of interesting companies in the last decade, including Nutanix and Pure Storage and many others. Very early on, I managed to convince him on the idea of getting him as an investor and on the board. That really helped. We did the same thing across other folks in other areas. That is critical as a first-time entrepreneur.
Alejandro: You just mentioned Nutanix. Nutanix ended up acquiring the company, PernixData. The question here for the business, when it came with PernixData to take a look at the outcome and running the M&A process, and all of this good stuff, at what point do you guys decide that it makes sense to potentially explore doing an exit, and how did the whole process kickstart? Was it because you guys received some inbound interest, or was it as a decision at a board level? Tell us about this?
Poojan Kumar: The four-and-a-half year journey was very interesting for us because the objective at which I was building the company was never to go and sell the company. That was a decision, not just mine, but from a board perspective and all of that, given all the traction we were seeing. In fact, we had a lot of acquisition offers along the way. We had an option to sell the company two years into the company, an option to sell the company three years into the company, but I never looked at any of those inbounds that I had. Then, ultimately, I would say four and a half years into the journey, it came down to the fact that it became clear, especially in our sector, where in a public cloud was taking off. The momentum was high in the public cloud. We had a company that was primarily based on the private cloud. We hadn’t reached that kind of scale. We were doing about a 25 to 30-million-dollar run rate business a year. It wasn’t at that scale where you could be an independent company. So it became clear that the right home for Pernix is going to be a bigger company who can absorb the technology and integrate the technology and the product, and also take advantage of all the awesome talent we had built at Pernix. That was the why of looking at an outcome. Then that’s where we looked at some of the interesting companies around us, including Nutanix, who would be interested in this. Fortunately, Nutanix worked out. I’m a big fan of the founder, CEO there, who is Dheeraj Pandey. I’ve known him for a long time. It was the right home from a people and technology perspective.
Alejandro: How long did the process take from beginning to end?
Poojan Kumar: I would say probably it took two to three months from the first conversation to when we signed something. And then maybe a couple of months to close the whole M&A.
Alejandro: That’s amazing. Then you went to work for Nutanix, and you’re still invested in Nutanix up until now. What a ride and what a great outcome because I think the price has doubled since the IPO. That’s fantastic. For this vesting and resting period, Poojan, with Nutanix, you were there for about a year and two months. It took no time for you to say, “I’m going to do this again.” So tell us, how was this transition? How tough was it for you to be kind of like handcuffed with a bigger company, and how was a person to say, “You know what? I’m out, and I’ve got to do my own thing again.”
Poojan Kumar: Yeah. That has been a lot of internal thinking about what I should be doing while I was there. And I actually did not do the vesting and resting in the sense that I started a lot of new initiatives. Some of them are doing extremely well right now, and Nutanix, also. So that year and three months—actually, a year and a half because it was more than that because of the time it took to close the acquisition. That year and a half, I spent a lot of time both working on some new things at Nutanix and jumpstarting some of those new things. But also, at the end of the day, I was thinking about where I want to go? I think ultimately, if I wanted to continue in a company, I would have stayed in Nutanix. I was happy about where things were going and how things were working out there. And the founder there—I’m a big fan of his. Fundamentally, the reason why—my wild pleading was about why I was building Pernix, in the first place. It was always about giving a shot at myself to go and build a long-term independent company. That was the why. I told myself that why is still true, even if Pernix didn’t work out that way, and that’s fine. Not every company works out that way. But I owed myself a shot at doing it again. And there was a big shift that was continuing to happen in the enterprise sector, the move to the Cloud. So I felt the combination of those reasons was a good reason for me to say, “I’m not getting younger.” I’m going to be turning 40 very soon. I need to give myself a shot sooner than later. So I ended up leaving to jumpstart Clumio.
Alejandro: At this point, with a family already? With wife and kids?
Poojan Kumar: Yeah. I had my first while I was at Pernix. He’s four years old now, and a second on the way in four weeks.
Alejandro: How very nice. Was your wife saying, “Come on, Poojan. Take it easy. Get that 9 to 5”?
Poojan Kumar: Actually, my wife is pretty interesting. Her father is an entrepreneur back in India. So she’s always very supportive. She understands. She knows me. We’ve been married for almost 12 years now, and she’s been extremely supportive of everything. She’s been an inspiration for me and is like, “Go. Do it. There’s, without a doubt, no problem.”
Alejandro: That is fantastic, Poojan. A shout out to your wife if she listens. Here, for Clumio, you saw the shift happening in Cloud in the enterprise. What happened? You knew that this was the direction to follow, the idea that you needed to catch and execute. So tell us about that moment where you say, “I’m giving my notice, and I’m going to build out this company.”
Poojan Kumar: Some of it was looking at where the market was. I’m a fundamental believer that anytime such a secular shift happens in the industry, and there’s a discontinuity in the sector, which is happening in the enterprise as we speak, that leads to new opportunities, and that leads to newer companies looking at the problem in a fresh new way. That’s exactly what happened in my case, also. I had some inspiration with other companies. A good example I give is Snowflake Computing, which is a great company in the data warehousing space. A lot of the fundamental reasons for Snowflake’s success was around going and building a next-generation platform on the public cloud specific to the use case that they were going after. My why for Clumio was around the fact that the next generation of enterprise companies are going to be companies that are going to be building on top of the new infrastructure and the new infrastructure is the public cloud, AWS, Azure, and GCP, largely similar to what you had in the on-premises world like with Dell, Cisco, and HP. That’s what you want to see. The next generation of enterprise companies are going to be companies that are going to be building platforms, delivered as a service on top of this new infrastructure. That was the beginning of Clumio, and that was the why of Clumio.
Alejandro: Poojan, I understand that here, for Clumio, you went at it with two other co-founders. Can you tell me how you managed to convince those, and how did you guys go out and start it?
Poojan Kumar: Both of the co-founders are folks that have been working with me for the last ten years. We were together at VMware. They were the first folks who joined Pernix. One of them was the VP of Engineering. He’s the VP of Engineering at Clumio. The other one was a chief architect at Pernix. He’s the CTO at Clumio. The same logic worked, which is, find folks that are passionate about what you’re passionate about, and they bring something unique to the table. And this time, three circles versus two circles with enough overlap, but at the same time, every person brings unique strengths to the table.
Alejandro: So who was bringing what to the table?
Poojan Kumar: Starting off with my co-founder and VP of Engineering, extremely technical, but at the same time has built large organizations and knows how to scale them. That’s Kaustubh Patil. He’s my co-founder and VO of Engineering. Woon Jung, who’s my co-founder and CTO—deep, deep technical guy. He can write tons of code, design, and stuff like that, and he’s passionate about building new technologies and scaling them. And then me, overall, with a product mindset and with enough technical jobs, but at the same time, broad in terms of marketing, sales, and other functions.
Alejandro: What were the early days like?
Poojan Kumar: The early days were like any other startup companies’ early days should be. The first thing we did is we raised a Series A round of financing because I’m a firm believer in, you don’t go and build stuff for an enterprise directly if you’ve figured out the problem. If you fundamentally think that the architecture is different, you go and raise money for it, and if somebody believes in you and your team and wants to put money in it, that’s awesome. Otherwise, go and find something else. The reason for that is that enterprise companies and platforms can’t be built on a dime. You can’t just have two, three, or four people go and do it. Ultimately, if you see Clumio, we spent a year and a half and almost 40 engineers going and building the [0:27:43] platform. Obviously, that wouldn’t have been possible without a Series A investment. That’s the first thing we did. We got a Series A round of financing based on our idea and our thoughts about the architecture on how we were different and talking to customers and things like that. Then we went right to work. In fact, everyone wrote code for the first year of the company, and then we’ve been scaling since then.
Alejandro: How different was this Series A from the Series A that you did with PernixData?
Poojan Kumar: Well, a lot of similarities with the one big difference of we had a new investor, Mike Spiser. He was also the early investor in a company. I’m also a big fan of Snowflake Computing. So we intentionally went to him. He’s a remarkable guy. One of the very unique VCs in the Valley who essentially bootstraps companies and understands what it takes for bootstrapping enterprise companies at very early scale. He did Pure Storage, Snowflake Computing, and then Clumio. I went to him because I’m a big believer in learning, and you want to learn along the way. He was instrumental in terms of making sure that we don’t make the mistakes that we made in the past or maybe other companies have made and stay on course so that we can truly build a long-term company here.
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Alejandro: Do you think it was a little bit easier to close this round because you were a proven full-cycle founder?
Poojan Kumar: Absolutely, and I think this time was very different. I would say the big difference is now people are not seeing you as a first-time person, so you get more mileage out of it where people believe in this, believe in you, and believe in your ability to do things. The idea and the marketing going afterward still has to make sense, but other parts become much easier.
Alejandro: You’ve raised quite a bit of money. How much money have you guys raised to date?
Poojan Kumar: We started off with 11 million, Series A, back in October 2017. We raised another 40 million Series B in 2018. We just closed another one, 35 million of Series C in 2019. The last two years, we’ve raised about 186 million of financing.
Alejandro: Wow! And most of that, actually, the Series B and the Series C, you literally raised both within the same year. Tell us about this.
Poojan Kumar: Yeah. I think a lot of it is because if you look at our sector, every person is trying to make a pivot into the Cloud, whether it’s an engineer who has built great platforms looking to learn and then make a pivot to the Cloud, whether it’s a seller, whether it’s a marketer, a support person, or whoever it might be. That’s fundamentally what’s happening from an investor side also. Folks who have made a lot of money investing in companies built in the data center software and hardware are looking at where the world is going over the next 10, 20, 30 years. They’re making a pivot and saying, “What are the next generation platforms we need to invest in that are building difficult stuff, things that are not easy to go and build.” Because to do something that’s easy to do, then once you get success, then anybody can replicate it. But go after platforms that are hard to do, but at the same time, have a big market ahead of them. That’s the reason why this space has gotten a lot of excitement, and we have executed well in terms of after coming out of [0:31:14]. We went to VMware. We want the best of show at VMware. So, a lot of it, a commission to the company, and great people behind the company across the board, and the fact that we are building something very difficult for the long-term has attracted all the capital.
Alejandro: Today, Clumio, what does it look like, and how do you guys make money?
Poojan Kumar: We have a SaaS platform company going after a big use case around data protection, protecting customers’ data, across on-premises, in cloud applications, and other SaaS data sources. The way we make money is, customers use our platform. They pay us depending on the workloads that they’re protecting, and they pay us on a subscription business model. That’s how we make our money.
Alejandro: Interesting. One of the things I saw as well is that you guys have been growing like crazy. Obviously, once you get the money, you need to deploy. You guys have definitely been deploying on people. In the last year, I see on LinkedIn that you guys have grown 259%. So I want to know two things here. 1) How do you go about recruiting so many people in such a short period of time, and 2) How do you make sure that while you’re still growing very fast, you’re still making sure that culture is still intact?
Poojan Kumar: We’ve been fortunate in terms of getting people in the company because folks see us as a company that they can come do the best work of their life and learn a lot in terms of the Cloud and things like that. It’s been good in attracting great talent in the company, and it helps in having the stability of the funding because at least people know you’re going to be around and have the ability to go and execute on things. That’s been fantastic, and I think we’re just scratching the surface in terms of where we are. And the fact that there’s so much to go and do in the future also helps in attracting great talent to the company. In terms of your other question in keeping the culture and all of that, we take a lot of pride in how we operate, and if you come to Clumio—a lot of smart people, but really very humble and down to earth. We believe in keeping it that way and have a culture in making things extremely transparent so that you truly get an opportunity to understand what’s happening across the company. Tools like Slack have helped us big time. We essentially have a pretty flat structure that every seller out there in the field, also on a weekly basis, raises the entire company in terms of all the customary things he or she is having, and what are they seeing out there? So engineers sitting out there, writing code, directly is hearing from sellers out there. So a lot of elements like that, that we’ve deployed have helped us.
Alejandro: In terms of growth, we’re talking about the growth of the company, and also the employees. For you, Poojan, you’ve needed to grow at the same pace. So if you’re growing, let’s say, your team by 259%, you need to grow as well as a leader by 259%. So, in this case, what measures do you have in place or safeguards, so you’re making sure that you’re learning at the same speed?
Poojan Kumar: That has been an important part of my own life in the last seven years, I would say, as the Poojan who started Pernix, and the Poojan who sold Pernix four and a half years later was very different. People have known me, and they’ve seen the growth. The same thing is true now where a couple of years ago, we started Clumio, and what did we know to go and build a SaaS company in the Cloud. We’ve never done that ourselves. So there was a lot of learning, and that is what keeps you real.
The fact that you’re doing new things, and you’re learning along the way with other people is key to make everything real at the end of the day, and keep you grounded. And being involved in every part of the growth from hiring every individual to making sure that they’re being heard and making sure that you’re constantly communicating with the entire company are the things that you are essentially growing. You’re surrounding yourself with really smart people, and that only works if you’re engaged all the time.
Alejandro: And also, if you’re able as well to reflect because when you reach success or you accomplish those milestones, it means that you’ve failed enough times or have made enough mistakes to continue learning and pushing yourself forward. In this case, Poojan, let’s say where you fail or make a mistake, how do you look back and reflect, so you’re able to bounce back with a lot of power toward the future?
Poojan Kumar: Mistakes are bound to happen. The key is, how do you learn from them, and how do you bounce back? I think one of the things that’s very important is letting people around you point out things that are not going well or an ability to give them a voice so that they can help guide you so that you can fix things. All of that is what you’re to do. And the key is, you’re to do it in a consistent manner. You have to keep doing day-in and day-out, and all the actions that you, yourself, do every day has to reflect that kind of thinking. It helps in terms of being grounded. In my case, also, it does help the fact that I’ve done one before. So I’ve come out of that learning a lot. I’ve thought about a lot of those things. You have folks like Mark Leslie; he’s on the board of Clumio. And folks like him that I talk to all the time so that I’m reflecting upon some of these things so that I’m making sure that I’m only improving and getting better day by day.
Alejandro: That’s very profound, Poojan. One thing here, for example, is where you’re executing, and you guys are at with Clumio, which is enterprise SaaS. Where do you think enterprise SaaS is going as a whole?
Poojan Kumar: I think every interesting enterprise company of the future is going to be a SaaS company, and that SaaS company is going to be built in the public cloud. I think you’re going to see that across everything. You’ve already been seeing that for the last 15, 20 years, and you’re going to see much more now because the public cloud is making it much easier for SaaS companies to be born. Before that, like Salesforce had to go and build data centers around the globe to deliver Salesforce. You no longer do that, thanks to the public cloud. That’s what we’re able to see more and more over the next 10, 20 years and beyond.
Alejandro: One of the questions that I typically ask here, Poojan, is knowing what you know now—I mean, it’s been an incredible journey for you. With PernixData, and now with Clumio, and also what you’ve learned in large corporations, it’s unbelievable. So if you had that opportunity to speak to your younger self, that Poojan that was about to launch his first business, and share one piece of business advice before launching a company, what would that be, and why knowing what you know now?
Poojan Kumar: This is true for me, personally. The Poojan that started Pernix always felt that nothing could go wrong—nothing could go wrong ever. That’s the mindset, which again, you need that. Any entrepreneur needs that kind of mindset that he’s right, and that’s the only way to take the kind of risks that you take. But at the same time, it’s very important while you’re looking further out and that vision five years later, and you think you’re going to be right, it’s important to look at what’s happening right now and in the next three months, and the six months. That dichotomy is what you’re to manage at all times. Looking at five years and looking at what’s right now. And again, if you’re looking at things happening in the right now, and you do figure out and understand the risk. Not everything will go as perfect as you imagine it to be. That dichotomy is what—if I’m talking to my younger self, I would manage it better if I were doing it all over again.
Alejandro: That’s very powerful, Poojan. So for the folks that are listening, what is the best way for them to reach out and say hi?
Poojan Kumar: A lot of people reach out to me at LinkedIn. I think that’s great. I think LinkedIn is generally the best way. And again, I’m all about giving back to the community, so I try to help anybody and everybody I can from an entrepreneur’s perspective. Yes, if you have something that I can help with, you can reach me on LinkedIn.
Alejandro: Amazing. Well, Poojan, thank you so much for being on the DealMakers show today.
Poojan Kumar: Thank you very much. I really appreciate the time.
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