The Founder Formula
The Founder Formula

Episode · 2 years ago

Justin Borgman, Co-founder Starburst - Ignoring Tradition and Going Bootstrap


Our recent podcast guest & 2-time founder saw entrepreneurship as a way to have an impact on the world. 


He & his employees wanted to do something to help fight against COVID-19, so they made their whole enterprise solution free to COVID-19 researchers. 


That’s true impact. That’s wanting your work to do good in the world. 


In this episode, we interview Justin Borgman, Co-founder & CEO at Starburst, about founding his second startup. 


What we talked about: 


- His impetus for entrepreneurship arrived at age 12 


- The differences between his 1st and 2nd companies 


- Company culture & values (not “the Silicon Valley mentality”) 


- How he views his competitors 


Listen to this and all of The Founder Formula episodes at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

My advice would be be opportunistic, be open to the opportunities because, yeah, I don't think you ever really can predict when a great idea is going to cross your path. The founder Formula Brings you in behind the curtains and inside the minds of today's brave executives at the most future leaning startups. Each interview will feature a transformative leader who's behind the wheel at a fast paced and innovative tech firm. They'll give you an insiders look at how companies are envisioned, created and scaled. We hope you're ready. Let's get into the show. They everybody. Welcome back to the founder formula. We're excited to have you here. My name is Todd Galena, and with me it's Tony olds at. Key's the chief technical officer here at Trace. Tony, how's it going? Hey, it's doing great. Good afternoon. Yeah, we got a kind of a scorcher out here as we're recording in southern California. Doesn't happen that often, but you know, temperature you've got above a hundred degrees and you know people are dying in the streets. Apparently we we can't handle it because there's like four thousand wildfires up. been there, right, Noll Right, oh, yes, also terrible. But yeah, ADDS to the adds to the heat's you know, what's amazing is that, you know, my wife and I moved to Colorado. One of her reasons for moving was that California had too many wildfires. Well, she didn't realize is that that Nice Ocean bree is takes all the smoke from California and blows it right into Colorado. So your quality is pretty amazing right now. You know, it's it's terrible because she was probably pretty accurate, because I imagine after you guys left there must have been at least two or three colossal wildfires after you guys left. They're happening here now too, though, so you know that's that's just a fact of life. Oh Man. Okay, so I just wanted to share with everybody, all of our listeners, that trace three had its annual technology and leadership event just last week. Of course, we had some great thought leaders present their Tony, you kicked off the show. Great job. How thanks man. But Day three of the show was a hundred percent dedicated to the community that we serve on this podcast. You know for example, Camille Grant from Mayfield kicked off day three. Everyone sort of Mayfield. They've been a silicon tech it bester for over fifty years and we invite any of our listeners to go check out that stuff. You go to tractreycom and right there in the home page you'll be able to see the content that we put up from that three day event. Again, day three was definitely focused on founders V season startups, but related to the show. In particular. Tony, I was wondering if you'd want to play a little game with me. Who sounds like fun. Okay, so what I did is I went back and I watched all the videos and I have three particular quotes from speakers that I found super interesting and I'm going to share those quotes with you. I'm going that obviously share who gave those quotes during their speeches, and then I was hoping you could expand on those quotes for the audience. Sounds good. Let's do it all right. So, as meat said, Donna, he is the founder and chief engineer at a company called engineering capital. His quote is this data is the new oil and it's the newsbestos. Yeah, yeah, I remember that. Yeah, he had a really interesting take on this, which you know. I think multiple people have already heard this whole like data is a new oil, which is data is invaluable. It's the most valuable thing to every organization today. is they an edge. But what he posited was that over the next couple of years, businesses are going to try to get their hands on every piece of data they can and over time it can actually become toxic to an organization, meaning when it comes to privacy and into the kinds of data and the waste and on all the things that come around to it, and if you're not aligning it to it value, that there's a big problem with the data that you have. And even from like a consumer example. Tick Tock was was the example I believe that he used, which was their consumer facing. They actually have too much data and the kinds of data that they have and where it's being shared is actually going to result, could result in the death of the company, at least from a US perspective, and not to get all in a politics at around this piece, but there's very real danger to if you don't manage your data well in all aspects, including things like privacy and what's going to happen with the feature of Gdpr and you know those those types of regulations, that it's only going to keep getting more stringent. It's going to become a little more strict and what you can can't do and what you can share, and you got to have a really good grasp on that. And that's where that saying comes in, is that it is both the most valuable thing that your company can have in the insights that you can clean out of it, but there's so much waste and with the lack of oversight and control, that it can become...

...the newest vestus because it become very toxic to your company. Really very interesting quote. Yeah, it was great. His whole Preso was great and that that opened my eyes for sure. You know whose responsibility is? So let's hear in an organization and you are doing data mining. Whose role is it to go and double check, to say, Hey, guys, listen, this data is going from super beneficial to the company to Super Detrimental in the company? Yeah, you know, that's that's something that is an evolving space. There are several different groups and it depends on what industry that you're in. You know, in some cases privacy is so regulated in what you're trying to do that you may have a privacy practice as a consultancy or privacy department, or maybe it falls under risk and governance. You know, the data officers have been on the rise as a type of position that many were going to stations are taking up in today's Ay in age as well, and a lot of times data governance falls under them as well as another part of their responsibility. There's a lot of different ways organizations are trying to tackle this, but it will tell you that what we've seen is that as the economy gets tight or, you know, stock values fall for a company, data governance is one of the first things to go, and I think that's where some of the worry comes into play, is that if you're not proactively managing this and if they are seen as a low value part of the organization because you don't realize the long term impact, people are showing through their actions that we don't value that governance, that we don't value all the things that are in coming to play. That will spell a lot of problems two years from now and I think that was that was part of the point of the talk. Is that we need to change the way we think about the value of data, governance, compliance, management of that data, making sure that we've got mechanisms to remove wasteful data or data that could get us in trouble, that have may be sensitive in nature, and how you manage through that. It's IT'S gonna be very interesting next couple of years is we kind of accelerate all this digital transformation over the next, you know, month or two. We're trying to accelerate this digital transformation over the next couple of years, not month or two. Things are moving pretty quick and it's funny that you mentioned that because that's part of what this next quote is going to be in. This one's from Darmesh backer. He's a general partner over at battery ventures, a huge investment firm, and his point was that covid was a huge reconciling moment for the way a company sees their technology team. And here's this quote. There's never been a faster evaluation and validation of what it brings to the business than right now. Yeah, he had a really great talk around us and it kind of touched on a couple different angles and what he really was after is that technology in many cases has built so many things that were they were a little bit ahead of the business and they were kind of bringing the business along. And when covid hits and we had to rethink our businesses, almost overnight we started compressing years of digital transformation into months and businesses began to realize that one there are a lot of things at their disposal from a technology asset perspective that they weren't leveraging that now they wanted not just that, but they wanted much more and there was a massive acceleration that happened in the adoption of those technologies. But what's really cool is that, if you start thinking about where the business is going and what they want, that there's going to be a really tight alignment between technology departments, the enablement and facilitation of innovation, digital transformation, bringing things like data to the table, like we just talked about, but in very tight alignment to the business, and there's going to be incredibly fast cycles to evaluating the value, the business value proposition, of different types of technologies and how they impact the business, and we're going to expect them to happen at a tremendous rate of speed. You know, one of the things that we saw, that we heard from many of our own clients as well, was typically you might have nine hundred, obviously depends on the size of organization, let's say hundreds of projects going on in any given time. Well, if you apply some essentialism and some prioritization and you put all your people on one big problem, remote access, for example, they were able to do things. Many organizations were able to accomplish things in a manner of days or weeks that would have taken them years, and it turns out the business was perfectly fine with it not being perfect or not being, you know, one hundred percent of the way there, the eighty percent, but doing it in two weeks was something that was magnanimous and it was almost like a wake up moment of what the possibilities were. If business aligns with technology, you have the same goals and you pour everything behind that, the speed that you can innovate and transform organizations pretty incredible. And so seeing what's going to happen over the next couple of years as we re evaluate the the value that we believe that technology brings to the business and that we are leveraging... more than we ever have to propel the business forward as going to be an incredible alignment between both sides of defense and a very quick cycle to you know how we look at evaluating business value. Very intriguing talk. Okay, obviously we speak with a lot of startups that are focused on, you know, outomation Ai. This quote is from someone named Tony Olzac, who's the CTEO trace three. He said automation creates more jobs than it destroys. Yeah, you know, that's something that is very top of mine, I think for a lot of people right now. Is Automation is just crazy hot in the industry right now. We have clients asking about US daily, even if they're not publicly talking about it. Everyone is looking at everything that happened to their business, the things that broke the budgets are operating under, maybe the efficiencies they want to drive. Maybe it comes from a digital engagement and shifting their business models. But how do you automate everything? But there is a concern around that that says, you know, from human to human perspective and we've taken care of people. What does this mean for jobs and what does this mean for your employees? And you know, it's interesting is the World Economic Forum a couple years ago put out some numbers that basically said x number of jobs are going to be destroyed by and don't don't quote me on on the exact number, but if something like fifty eight million more jobs will be created then the ones that are displaced by two thousand and twenty two. And what's interesting about that is when you think about the efficiencies that automation drives and then it changes with the art of the possible is for a business and then as a business can expand what they get into or price points change or their market share increases, you inevitably create many more jobs. They just might be different. You're going to need to upskill, you're going to need to reskill, you're going to need different kinds of positions that are going to be generated and it's definitely a change of landscape at the business but I think, as we look at the benefit of moving much more towards an automated future, that we will have many more jobs that come as a result from the economic success of that future and it's not really anything to be afraid of. An in fact, many, many people are embarking on this journey right now and doing some incredible stuff in the space. Yeah, and, as you mentioned, you know, creating jobs, which is which is huge. I think everybody was always terrified that, you know, a machine was going to take their job away, and I think you just illustrated why. It's the complete opposite, for sure. Okay, so for those of you listening, as I mentioned, you can go back and check out these videos. Tony, as I said, had a great talk there and you can see all of our founders. We had about seven or eight of them speaking, some of them pitching their technology. Please make sure to check that out. And, Tony, I say we get to our guests. What do you think? I'm ready looking forward to it. Okay, as promised, our guests is a two time founder and industry expert on all things big data and analytics. His first company, had dapped, was founded in two thousand and ten and was acquired by Tara Day to four years later, so it really excited to hear about that. His current startup is called starburst to just sixty days ago raised forty two million dollars in series be funding. Is the cofounder and serves as eerminents the EO. Please, welcome to the show. Justin, Boardman, welcome, Justin. Hey, thank you guys for having me. Yeah, however, things in Boston, you know, not bad. We're all we're all trying to make the best of this situation. Fortunately, Massachusetts has done a pretty good job, I think, of staying inside and wearing masks and doing all the right things. So optimistic right now that that hopefully things stay this way here. That's good to hear, and we've actually got some questions around that are sort of related to that. Will bring up later, but we'll get to that in just a second. And to kick us off, we would just love to hear a little bit more about starbursts and why you start it and what do you guys do at starbursts? Yeah, so we're the company behind an open source project called Pressto, which was originally created at facebook, and it's a sequel query engine, which means that it allows you to run sequel queries very quickly across data anywhere, and that's really the piece that makes it unique. Is the is the fact that it's like a database without storage. It allows you to analyze data sitting in any other piece of storage that you might have. So, for example, if you're a very large enterprise, you likely have oracle, you have Tara data, you have IBM, you have a heavy cluster and and now maybe you're starting to move to the cloud, until you've got data ands three or maybe snowflake. What press too allows you to do is essentially run a query and access data across all of those different data silos. So it's become very popular for accessing data that you have within your organization, creating that more holistic view, and it also allows you to basically have a very low cost way of doing data warehousing analytics directly against object storage like US three, for example, or as your data lake storage or Google's cloud storage, all of which are kind of the...

...least expensive tier of storage that you can have if you move to the cloud, and being able to access it they're directly has a lot of cost advantages. So that's kind of the origin. You know, we got involved back well, actually my cofounders created Pressto back in two thousand and twelve while they were at facebook. I got involved in two thousand and fourteen after the acquisition of my first company, and then we form star wars back in two thousand and seventeen and have been building the business ever since. Very very cool, you know, and your names have been coming up a lot lately and you know probably do to a lot of people trying to figure out what they do next with what they do with the Doupe. And you know how object storage is taken off. You know if you guys seen a significant uptick in just market demands recently with with the direction that he doop is going? Yeah, for sure, I think very much. You know, object storage is the new data lake. I think a lot of the concepts that why do defined are really important and and probably will stand the test of time, even if the doup itself is not necessarily the vehicle for those concepts. So over time. But you know, the idea of open data formats, for example storing your data and or see our parque these kind of open file formats, is a big deal and just the Dataila concept is a big deal. But increasingly we see that moving in the direction of the cloud and and leveraging those cloud platforms as the new data likeake. You know, interesting thing that we were reading about we're prepping for this this podcast, was we read that you guys gave your software away for free to Covid nineteen researchers. How has that been received, and so soon after raising another round? As that put any stress on the organization or how does the Organization itself embrace that? Yeah, I mean I think at least internally here, all of our employees were kind of looking for a way to make a difference and have a contribution to this kind of global challenge that we all face. And you know, we're not a drug company, we're not working on vaccines, so it was kind of like, you know, what could we do? And I think so much of this pandemic is really about data and trying to understand and track the virus and learn learn about it understand it better. So we thought, Hey, you know what, Presto's great at that. PREST is great at analyzing data. Could could we make this available for free to researchers, our enterprise solution, which comes with a lot of extra features, and maybe have some small impact? And, and I think we've been pleasantly surprised, we actually have had a few people reach out and take us up on that offer. There's the government of Malaysia, in fact, is actually using it, as well as some others as well. So I think, you know, it makes us feel good like we can actually, you know, have some impact and I think from a business standpoint it really hasn't has heard us, because those are not necessarily our most core customer based anyhow. We're primarily focused on sort of you know global two thousand type customers that were engaging with great to hear that people are taking advantage of it be interesting to see how that tracks Justin let's go away. Let's go way back to maybe some of your early years. was there anything in your background that made you realize that you had an entrepreneurial spirit as a kid? Yeah, I think for me it was. It was actually like right around age twelve, which for me was the early S, and kind of watching the Internet be born and all of these great companies changing, changing the world, you know, back then, I mean you know Microsoft and Yahoo and later Google and Cisco and and you know, just seeing the way that the world was being transformed and I think for me what was what was attractive, was just the ability to make a difference, as cheesy as that might sound. You know for some that that's politics. For me, I guess I felt like entrepreneurship was actually maybe a more effective way, or at least one that made more sense to me, on how I could have an impact on the world. So I think that was what what drew me to it was just watching these companies transform our way of life. And then it was kind of a question of how do you get there? I mean as a twelve year old, you know it's sort of no idea. So, you know, I got very involved in computers and got a degree in computer science and became a software developer and and even at that point I still didn't necessarily know what business I I would start to it. It actually wasn't until Grad School, when I was getting my my mba down at Yale, that I met some guys in the Computer Science Department there who had some interesting research and and for me it was kind of a light bulb went off and and I encourage them to commercialize that research with me and and that research was called hit Doo DB and it was really one of the first, I would say, kind of thoughts around thinking about who do or this data lake concept as the day to warehousing alternative, as a lower cost, more scalable way of doing do day to warehousing analytics. And that was pretty interesting I think back in two thousand and nine, two thousand and ten when my cofounders were working on this. So so we decided to actually spend that out of the university. That became had apt and that was really the beginning for me and I think it was. You know, I guess my advice would be kind of be opportunistic, be open to the o opportunities because, yeah,...

I don't think you ever really can predict when a great idea is going to cross your path. And so just a double checking on this. So you had spun adapt out of your NBA program or had you been in the workforce working for a little while and then started it? So I'd been in the workforce before business school, so I was a software engineer before that and then went to business school really to actually just kind of brought in my horizon and get a better foundation on on business and again thinking that I would one day be an entrepreneur, but not actually thinking that I would be necessarily entrepreneur while I was in business school. So it was it was actually literally for the First Year of the program is to your program and it was after the first year that I started this business with my cofounders. There and I actually took a leave of absence from the NBA program to actually build, build this later, finishing at the end, just to make my mom happy. But got to make mom happy. That's right, the promise I made. You know, you got to keep those promises. So you're here at starbursts. You raise two rounds of funding in the last ten months, so congratulations on that. That's that's amazing. Thank you. But you guys were rolling for quite some time before you took on that investment. So can you walk us through kind of the first you know three or four years when you had bootstrap the company, and then the reason why you kind of seek the series a and then the series be? So you know, boots trapping was a great way for us to basically be patient about the way that we approach the business, really get to know our customers really well and kind of craft the perfect go to market for for what we were trying to do. You know that that started with with just selling support contracts, but I think that business model started to evolve to what some people call an open coore model, where we realize that by providing extra value that wasn't available in the open source was actually you know, not only really Impactabul for customers, but also a pretty viable business model, because now there was a real incentive and a real reason to buy, because I think one of the challenges any open source company faces is how do you compete with your your self? Essentially, how do you compete with free right, because that the open source software itself is free, and I think one way to do that is to provide differentiated value around the core open source. Now we continue to be the leading committers to the open source project. In fact, I think about ninety plus percent of the codebase has been written by us. But it's those extra features that makes things work from a commercial perspective and we were able to take our time with that and really see that work for us. The first big feature was actually role based access control, so a security feature that essentially allows different people in the organization to have different access to the data, and that feature, I think, was an important inflection point from a product perspective in terms of allowing the business to really start to scale. So that's kind of how we got off the ground and you're absolutely right. We ran more than two years without taking any capital at all. We were castle positive, profitable and so when we actually met B sees that they were kind of puzzled because they you know, in silicon value you never really see that. You don't see profitable startups. So it was a fun way to get enough. Yeah, so the question is is why? So why the first round and then why the second round? was there more development you wanted to make on the product? Did you want to invest in marketing the product? Give us a little insight there. Yeah, well, it was a combination of really two factors. I think one was we were starting to feel increasingly that this opportunity was even bigger than we might have fully anticipated in when we started the business. Quite frankly, I think what we were seeing was a lot of companies are in transition where they have data sources today and a vision for where they'd like to go, and in many cases that's a vision to get to the cloud, and we were finding that Preston was kind of this perfect fit because it essentially creates optionality for our customers, architecturally speaking, so so they can access the stuff they have today and also set themselves up for the future moving to cloud objects, swords, let's say. And regardless of what stage of that journey they're in. We have one kind of central sequel interface to allow you to run all those queries so your end users aren't impacted by changing from one system to another system and to another system. All those migrations are hidden behind the team. It sort of abstracts it away. So we saw that playing really well in the market and that, combined with with actually meeting a particular investor named Mike Wolfe at index, got US thinking. Mike is an outstanding investor, just in general, but in particular. He's really, I think, made a name for himself investing around open source companies and he was responsible for important works confluent, which is the Kafka Company Elastic. This is sort of like his thing and he scaled these these things up pretty substantially. So I was intrigued when when we had the opportunity to speak with them and you know, I think kind of right place, right time. Just sort of felt like this was the...

...moment to actually accelerate and actually take on capital to do so, because the one downside to bootstrap. bootstrapping is great, I highly recommended to anybody, especially as you're starting a company, but the one downside is you can't grow as fast. You can only reinvest the profits that you generate, right and so that's just going to naturally be a slower growth rate. So taking the venture capital dollars for us at that point was really more of a growth exceler in and even though it was our series a, meaning our first round, we had already established, I think, product market fit and had already actually been in business for a couple years selling this. So we were able to take that cash and immediately invested in scaling out to go to market, which primarily means hiring a lot more sales people in addition to engineers of course, to continue to work on the product. It's pretty awesome. Yeah, that's that's very interesting. How your journey went there and did you guys raise money at your first company as well or you bootstrapped that one as well? That one we I would say, was much more traditional. We raise venture right from the start and raised about seventeen million in total across a couple rounds, so much smaller relative to what we've done here, but I would say was it was much more traditional and I think a lot of the lessons from that experience informed the way that I wanted to build this business. And what I mean by that is when you do raise venture right out of the out of the gate, you have immediate pressure from your investors and and expectations to hit milestones, and I think that's natural and it's normal. But when you're still in the product market fit phase of trying to figure everything out, that pressure can sometimes be counterproductive and sometimes force you to make short term decisions. And I think there's a very much a tendency, in my view, in Silicon Valley to try to pretend that you're you're successful before you are, kind of like a fake it till you make it type of mentality and and that just never resonated with me. Just isn't my style. One of the company values that we have is this notion of authenticity, I mean kind of being real, being honest and being intellectually honest with ourselves, like we don't want to convince ourselves that we're great. I think we like to look at our own flaws and see them as opportunities for improvement. So, you know, the BOOT stopping model allowed us to really kind of stay out of the typical Silicon Valley rat race where you raise the capital and your next goal is the next capital raised, like those are artificial milestones that aren't actually healthy, I think in a lot of ways. Right, like our goal is to build a real business, a meaningful business for the long run, not just make it to the next round. So those are just some of the lessons I think I learned through the first business. Yeah, scared you are. It's kind of like being a music artist on Youtube with a million followers, or for you get your first recording contract. is slightly different situation than being an unknown right right, by the way, just in that happened at Tony. That's why every day about the drop my new albummorw so, just shifting gears for a sec and you know, we typically last around the founding team, but your situation was a little bit different. You know, in this case you met some folks who were the primary contributors of an open source project which was being used at an established company to solve a big problem. You know, just would love to hear more around one. I think I read on your website the other day that you guys had like four cteos. Will love to hear about how you took that. You know, the meeting of that group turn it into a founding team. What thought might have had to be a little bit different, you know, coming from that angle. And then also, you know, how did you then think about filling out the rest of the the founding team? Yeah, absolutely, and we actually have twelve co founders in total because of the way that we sort of started the business almost as a as a unit right from the get go, and with those those contracts to work with. So yeah, twelve co founders, all of them brilliant engineers, I self being, of course, the exception to that, but all the rest of them being brilliant engineers. The four CTOS. Is always funny that people asked about that all the time. You know, CTO number one was, or is, Camille meal buy the Publickovsky, who is actually my co founder from my first business and as we were getting this thing up and running, he was coming with me from Chara data and was our first CTO, I guess you could say. Then we added the creators of Pressto, Martine, Dana David, and we're trying to figure out titles for them and what role would they play, and we just settled on the hey, you know what we're going to have for CTOS? There's there's no rules on how we do this and the reality is all four of them play really, really important roles in our future. Martine Day and David are very focused on the technology direction, kind of, you know, more inward facing on where we're going from a product and technology perspective and and still super active in the open source community. And then Camille, I would say, is maybe a little bit more customer facing, sort of focused on the application of the technology to customer problems. And so yeah, it's a nice balance. Everybody...

...sort of has their role. They're very cool. Yeah, on that open source fronts, does that create any weird conflicts for companies you or do they just expect it like hey, we're going to contribute to open source, this is a big problem that we want to solve. If a solution doesn't exists out there, we recognize that this may mean this talent will spin out to go pursue that later. And Yeah, how does all that work? Yeah, that's a great question and it's it's sort of a almost philosophical question of, you know, do companies create open source software or do individuals create open source software? Right, and I would say there's probably a lot stronger argument to be made that it's actually individuals that create open source software. And you know, when Martine Day and David Left facebook, sort of the you know, moral authority or the the central Voice of Presto kind of left with them and and is embodied within them as the driving force is behind the project. So I think that's probably an inherent risk in any open source development, but there's a lot of pros and cons that they've come with it. You know, I think for a company like facebook, not only is it a recruiting mechanism for their engineers to be able to say hey, the technology you build here is going to be world class, enterprise grade and will have an impact beyond even facebook, right, and I think that's rewarding for an engineer to sort of get involved with, and I think that's part of the appeal. Even, you know, working at starburst now and continuing to work on that project, you have that ability to influence a much broader audience, which I think appeals to folks. You know, the other benefit is you get actually community involvement in it, right. So so you're not the only one necessarily writing the software. You know, in the case of Pressto, a lot of the geospatial functions actually came from Uber. Uber is a huge Pressto user and they needed the ability to understand, you know, traffic and so forth relating to airports and other locations. So they they added these geospatial functions which now are used by just about every ride sharing company in the world. They all use press to because of these functions. We didn't actually build them. FACEBOOK didn't even build them. facebook added some more, but but it was really uber that that sort of drove that initially, and and so you get this nice virtuous effect of kind of everybody working together to make the technology even better. It's very cool. Well, and you kind of touched on something there that we're always curious about, which is, you know, that culture that facebook was able to create, that actually it helps them attract talent and you know just what the promise of being able to change not just them but you know, take your ideas and technology out into the world. So you're founding team, you know, good portion of them coming from facebook and then you coming from Sara data and your other companies in your history. How much of culture as you pull from from where you guys came from, and how much of it survived. I guess we're always curious about is. You know, what lessons did you learn and what did you guys apply to the culture at starburst that makes it unique or things that maybe you guys have turned into your advantage? Yeah, that's a great question. I without hopefully not offending either of the of the companies we came from, I would say that I think our culture is sort of deliberately unique, and what I mean by that is, you know, some of our core values are, you know, this notion of Grit, for example, like just working hard, like we don't give free lunches here. Some of those companies going in value do, and that's fine, but that's that's not our style. And so I think like kind of from day one, when you get here, we talked about this as as not trying to build a Unicorn, unicorns being kind of imagination and not real, but rather building a workhorse, and that's sort of like our ethos. I think. You know, everybody here is working incredibly hard, grinding again, authenticity is really cooler to the culture. Humility is important to the culture. We want everybody to kind of express their views, and then this idea of ownership is also very important, not just literal ownership, in that all of our poise of course own stock in the company, but the feeling of ownership, feeling like if there's something broken, you have the power to go fix it, and so those are all really, really important things to us. I think sometimes in bigger companies you don't necessarily have that ability to feel ownership over what you're working on. You have to ask for permission, you've got a bureaucracy perhaps to navigate with in some cases. So we really try to remove that and make sure people feel empowered to kind of just own it and make the company, you know, great, because it's your company as well, awesome. You know, just shifting gears. It's a little bit and we can we can go back to that later if we have more time, todd, because I'd love to explore some of that more, especially New England, like the Boston area companies versus Silicon Valley, which for sake of time, and maybe we'll circle back around that if we've got more time at the end. But Justin just like shifting gears for a second. We talked earlier, but you taken a couple rounds of funding within the last year now that money is coming in. You know you're looking at that next phase of growth. What's the hardest thing that you guys have experienced with that next level of scale? You and now there's some level of expectation.

There's some things that you guys that out to do now the money is there. You know, we'd love to hear more about than. How do you guys approach that and what hurdles we had to overcome? Yeah, for sure, I mean I think they're definitely growing pains. They come with that. I think, you know, one of the most important focuses that we've had internally, and fortunately I think our entire executive team is aligned around this idea, is the concept of enablement. Right, how do we enable the New People that we hire, because we've grown dramatically? I mean probably twelve months ago we were probably thirty people or something like that, maybe thirty five, I am not even exactly sure, and now we're, you know, a hundred thirty five or something like that. So, you know, adding a hundred people in twelve months. One thing that changes inherently is I am not involved in everything, or my cofounders are not involved in everything. Right, we can't be. You can't sort of scale yourself as an individual that way. But that means is you have to make sure that the next generation of hires who are coming in know what they're doing. You know who are, you know when they're talking to customers, they're saying the right things, they know the right answers. When they're working on the product, they they know how to build the feature that we need to build. So so there's a lot of investment, I think, that we're trying to consciously make in training and enablement and creating documentation. I think these are all really, really essential things because when you're, you know, just a dozen or a couple dozen people in a room, you can get that answer just through us mosis and especially now in this covid environment that we're in right you don't get the benefit of all those water cooler conversation. So so kind of forces you to actually be even more, I think, rigorous around a creating processes for enabling your Dow hires. Yeah, that's actually a question is going to ask, because you're trying to scale right now and you know, the in the middle of a pandemic nick and what would you know normally factor into how you might think about that has to have radically changed and you know, we're very curious about how you maintain your culture with, you know, tons of new employees coming on board and in the middle of all this remote work situation. Or if that was you know how much that, did it actually influence you? Or would that have been a party of design anyway, because you know what kind of organization you wanted to actually have? Yeah, great question. It's funny because I probably haven't met half of our company because when we've added so many people since this lockdown has started, and that's a weird, weird feeling, you know, to not actually have a physically met so many people in our company today. There's always been an element of remote orientation, just because when we started, some of our early engineers were actually in Poland, and then we had guys in Boston and then we had people in California as well. So the need to basically work across these three geographies created, I think, at least, some systems of how do we how do we do this? You know, Google, hang out, do meetings, etc. And and again documentation becomes actually an important part of that as well. The internal wikis that we use to sort of record in history. You know, the right way of doing x, Y or Z become very important, but no doubt it's the challenge. I'd much rather be traveling or around. You know, our VP of sales and I joked that we would take a middle seat any any day right now, right, normal things that you normally, hey, write about. Traveling like now sounds so great. So we're hoping we can get back to it. That's so funny. That's so true. So miserable. You never wanted the middle seat but now want to be on a plane. So true. Right, hey. One of the great things that we're learning when we're speaking with you Justin as you've applied a lot of lessons learned from your first go around to this, which is incredible because they happened relatively quickly. There's only about, you know, a year and a half or two years off between the two. Can you take us through the feeling of being acquired when you launched a DAP? I don't know what your exit strategy was, but you were acquired. Take us through that and, if you don't mind share with us if, if that's the exit strategy with starbursts or you, are you planning a much longer haul here. So yeah, so with adapt I mean I don't know that we had a plan necessarily of exactly how big we would build it or what the outcome would be. I think you know myself. Certainly I'll speak for myself. I was at first time CEO. I was twenty nine years old. This is the ten years ago now, so you now know how old I am. You know, I was figuring everything out by the seat of my pants and it was it was hard. It was incredibly hard and I think the reason, you know, there are so many lessons from that experience is because it was such an intense experience. Survival sort of what you know, required learning quickly, and that's really you know, the way I kind of felt that whole experience was it was four years but it felt like it, you know, went by in a day and it was just super intense. And I think you know, as far as evaluating acquisitions, when we did, you know, probably stating the obvious here, but it always helps when there's more than one interested party. We were fortunate to have two suitors. That was a LO yeah, exactly. So that allowed us to sort of get what we were trying to...

...look for at least in terms of what the terms of a deal might look like. And you know, it is the end of a journey, but it's also an opportunity to relax and I think because that first one was so intense, I kind of needed those those years that Tara data to to repair and and reflect and learn from from everything through the first one and now, I think with this one. This one feels so much different to me in a lot of ways. I think you know, with this one, every decision we've made from the beginning has been for the long run. And how do we how do we build something they can really stand the test of time? Now, I can't tell you today if that means this is going to be some giant public company, but I do strongly believe it's going to be something substantial and I think that's really our goal here, is to build something meaningful that truly does have an impact on the industry, and so we're trying to make the right long term decisions. We're excited to watch where things go. One of the things that we love to ask about, Justin on on this podcast is interactions you had with your customers. One of the things that makes you guys unique is when you started this company you'd mentioned that you had customers right out of the gate. Can you maybe share a gratifying customer moment that you've experienced? Yeah, sure. So we now have a customer advisory board, which I think is also a recommendation I would make to any company. Once you have enough customers to warn't having a customer advisory board. It's a great venue to get feedbacks or a collect feedback from your customers. But also, I think the reason I bring it up is we just recently had a few of these meetings and it's an opportunity to reflect as well on on, I think, the journeys that you had with some of these customers, which are meaningful. They're meaningful even even personally. You get to know these folks really well and and you know what you're trying to do to build this business here at starburst is also actually having a material impact on their career and what they're able to do within within the company. So a couple of my favorite longtime customers are comcast and Fin Rah. We're actually allowed to talk about both of those, so that's why I've mentioning them. Not all of our customers, let us use their names, but you know, both of those those teams are just incredible. You know, in the case of comcast, they have a really, really interesting use case. They've talked about this publicly, but essentially, you know, they have eventlog data from from every every time you hit the remote control. All of that viewing behavior gets logged into a day to lake and then separately, in a charit day to day to warehouse. You've got billing information what somebody subscribes to, how much they spend every month, maybe where they live and if you want to actually correlate the shows that they watch with how much they spend and understand the customer lifetime value of a a bravo viewer versus the espn you were. You know, that's something that we actually enable them to do and it was a project that in the beginning probably what sort of an experiment and has now become really, really important to the business and drives a lot of revenue for the company. So that's just incredibly satisfying to not only see the impact we've had on the organization but but also on the individuals as they've grown in their careers and they've gotten promotions, they've become more influential within their organizations because they were visionary and took a chance on us when we were small, and that's just just such a powerful thing. That's incredible. As funny, Trac three is also a big fan of the customer advisory board and I think Tony's like second day on the job he ended up at one of our customer advisory Boards. Yeah, we're big fans, Tony. You remember that right, pretty great way to kick off the job, I mean just taking it all in. Yeah, and just one of the things that we're curious about is, you know, there's there's a lot of radical transformation happening in data analytics right now. We touched on a little bit of stuff around how do earlier and just what the future looks like in a multi cloud world and what clients are trying to experience. You know, when you guys look out at the landscape, is there anyone interesting that you view as competition and how do you guys think about your competition? Yeah, great question. I would say there are kind of two that we think about. One is aws, because they think it Wus. Is Competition for almost everybody. Yeah, I think if they're not on your list and they will will be, I guess. So you know, the reason they're competition for us is I think they've historically kind of made a name for themselves of taking open source projects that they don't actively participate in themselves. They don't contribute to the to the software, but they take them and they make them available at a low cost on their platforms. So they do that with Pressto. They actually have two different pressto based offerings. One is on on Mr and then there's one called Athena, which is pressedo wrapped as a query service essentially, and you know, I think we always have to keep an eye on that. It's good motivation for us to continue to create compelling differentiation and make sure that we're adding value that that Amazon can't. But it's definitely one that you always have to keep an eye on. I think you know, they are the nine hundred pound guerrilla, I guess you could say. You know, the other that we think about, which is a little bit more of coopetition, I would say, is actually snowflake. So snowflake,...

...hugely successful, about to go public in a matter of weeks and you know, at least from what I hear, will be a very, very large valuation on Day One. What's different? We basically solve similar problems but do them in completely opposite ways, and what I mean by that is snowflake is very much a traditional database, except for the cloud. That's kind of their differentiation. They're like Tara data, except for the cloud, which means that they have storage compute separation and so you can elastically scalop and down. It's it's kind of a cloud ready be to wearhouse. But like Tara data or every other traditional database, you have to load the data into snow like first, and there's a lot of time and effort associated with ingesting the data and once you do, you're actually locked in. You've got all of your data now in Snowflake, right, and so now they've got you and of course prices will go up over time, especially the public company, that's going to become more and more expensive for you. It's a great database system, I'm not I'm not knocking it in any way, and it's a great business success story, but it is very much, to me, just an incremental iteration of database history, whereas the way that we approach it is we basically say leave the data wherever you want. You have the freedom to decide where your data is. We don't own it, we don't take it and we'll just query wherever it lives. We still deliver very fast sequel performance, all the things that snowflake does, but you have the freedom to say where that data lives. Now the reason I say this is coopetition is because snowflake can actually be a data source for starburst, meeting that you could have some data sitting in snowflake and some data sitting directly in as three, and you could join these tables together, and we do have customers who do that. So we're kind of able to play an agnostic sort of role to where your data lives and and stuff like. Could be one of them. But I would say probably over time, it's our belief that eventually customers will start to make their data storage decisions based on cost, and primarily, so snowflake, or Oracle or territy or would have you, just become very expensive places to store data. So anyhow, I hope I didn't go too long on that, but that's sort of how we think about it. No, no, we to really appreciate it. Thanks for that. So we're towards the end Justin I think we wanted to circle back on one of the questions Tony, Tony had and I think that was, you know, the difference between, you know, a Boston start up and potentially a silicon valley start up. Tony, is that where you were heady with with that question? Yeah, exactly, thanks then. Yeah, sure. I mean I'll say first of all that starburst is a almost mean, maybe this sounds too grand, but global company in the sense that we have offices in a few different places and and that include Silicon Valley and Boston. But there is definitely a Boston mentality, I think, to the way we approach things, this being headquarters here, and I think you know that that's reflected in this this sort of view that you know, it's important to sort of be be real, be authentic, work hard. We're less about kind of the self promotion, less about the you know, sort of smoke and mirrors, if you will. That, I think sometimes comes out of the ultra competitive environment that you have in Silicon Valley where you've got almost too much money flowing around and pretty much anything can be funded, sort of trying to grab attention, and I think here we sort of just we prioritize, you know, reality and trying to focus on winning the next customer and winning the next customer and winning the next customer and building your great product and less about kind of beating our chest. So I hope that that gets instilled in in sort of the culture that we build here. Again. You know, we talked about earlier we don't offer free lunch and we're sort of out of that, because I think that speaks to the way we think about the world that you know, this isn't supposed to be easy. This isn't you know, we're not begging you to sort of come here and work on this. This is folks who are super passionate and driven and want to win, and I think that's where we're all united and just focused on that. That's that's great to hear. Justin, I mean, and thanks for sharing. You know, I think we learned some incredible things today and you guys are off to its fremend to start. We can't wait see we go next often. Thank you, guys. This was a lot of fun. You Bet, Justin. Thanks. Thanks for hopping on. Appreciate it. You got take care. Trace three is hyper focused on helping it leaders deliver business outcomes by providing a wide variety of data center solutions and consulting services. If you're looking for emerging technology to solve tried and true business problems, trace three is here to help. We believe all possibilities live in technology. You can learn more at trace threecom podcast. That's trace, the number threecom podcast you've been listening to the founder formula, the podcast for all things start up, from Silicon Valley to innovators across the country. If you want to know what it takes to lead tomorrow's tech companies, subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time,.

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