Six sales calls of which two were multi-hour product demonstrations as well as side meetings, dinners, and driving between SFO and SJC four times equal? Tired. Now I have the hardest one hour wait, which is the hour I have to wait till the flight home departs. It is not the redeye that is especially difficult, it is time waiting for the boarding process to start that seems to make time slow. I had an amazing couple of days in SJC/SFO talking data center architecture and SDN with prospective clients, industry luminaries as well as colleagues in fellow SDN startups. The last few days will be time we all look back on as the most fun in the life of a startup. I was with a great team rushing from appointment to appointment, lugging a SDN network in a 200 pound from location to location. At one customer, they even came out to the parking lot to look at the equipment in the back of van to see if it was real before we lugged it to a lab twenty miles up the road.
Now it is time to change coasts and check in with team at headquarters.
My employer Plexxi had some funding news today. I am sitting at my desk in Cambridge letting the tweets, the blog postings, the news articles and the emails wash over me. Truth be told the attention feels pretty good. I know how hard my co-workers have been working and some recognition makes the day before the weekend feel good. I enjoyed it for about fifteen minutes, but now it is back to reality. All the funding coverage has resulted in a number of inquires from people looking to join Plexxi and recruiters seeking to help us expand the team.
I am bit humbled by the inquires because what we have to offer is not for the faint of heart. I posted that a few months back. We do not have teams of people to send on sales calls. We do not have admins and support teams. Selling Plexxi is really cool, but it is not for the faint of heart. What we sell is the new f’ing network for the next twenty years of networking. We fly on red eyes. We are away from home. We do not have fancy marketing presentations and we do not fly in product specialists from headquarters. We are scrappy as our CEO says. We make the sales calls in person. Most of sales calls are on the white board. We get to the point. What we sell is cool, but it has never been done before. It is hard. It is really hard. It is very interesting to clients, but it not easy. Some mornings I have to listen to The Fighter by GCH to get amped up for the day.
I am very aware of our competition. They are far bigger, they have billions in capital and every account we sell into is already occupied by their teams and equipment. We have to be better, cheaper, faster and innovative. We play in the big league under the lights, in prime time. We are not selling miscellaneous things. We sell technology into the core function of our customer’s business. Yes, we are looking for players on the team, but you better know what you are getting into. It is not easy. I am not fooled by the immensity of the challenge. I am also not daunted by the challenge. Game on.
Why do we seek?
When do you feel most alive?
What causes you to be up at 4am and feel invigorated?
When I first thought about writing this post, I was trying to come up with something pithy to write in parallel to Brad’s post. I failed. I do not have something pithy. What I have is a feeling that I have not had in a long time in tech. It is the feeling of being most alive. I have this feeling because I am meeting people who are seeking. Let me describe a scene:
You are an experienced IT/technology executive. You are told in a few days that some company you have never heard of will be in town and they might have something of interest you should see. You do not really have an accurate description of what you should see; yet you make appointment to go see it. You are given an address. You find the building. It is difficult to gain access, as you need to be on the list at the desk. Once you have arrived at the correct floor, you find another set of doors and then a reception area where you name is checked again. You state your business and are led down hallway past nice offices and well-apportioned conference rooms. A few turns later, down a narrowing hallway you arrive at the smallest, windowless conference room that is next to the storeroom. Inside your conference room you find a few people, some IT equipment. It is hot. There is a tabletop fan swirling the warm air. You sit down. There are no PowerPoint slides – just the white board, a flat panel, a rack of gear and some people. The conversation begins. You can leave at anytime; yet you stay. It is hot; yet you stay. Sleeves are rolled up, your brow fills with sweat and still you stay. The white board is filled many times over. Time goes by and the conversation goes on. When it is done you leave hot, tired, exhausted and alive.
What would you call that? I call that a meeting of the revolutionaries. “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
* It is all about the network stupid, because it is all about compute. *
** Comments are always welcome in the comments section or in private. **