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This MIT Graduate Sold His First Startup For $90 Million And Then Built A Billion Dollar Business - Forbes

This MIT Graduate Sold His First Startup For $90 Million And Then Built A Billion Dollar Business - Forbes


This MIT Graduate Sold His First Startup For $90 Million And Then Built A Billion Dollar Business - Forbes

Posted: 30 Apr 2019 05:19 AM PDT

Doug Winter

Doug Winter

From selling his first company for $90 million to raising $179 million at a billion dollar valuation for his current business, Doug Winter has learned something about the art of fundraising and entrepreneurship.

In his exclusive interview on the DealMakers Podcast, Doug Winter shared his story on taking the leap as an entrepreneur, his techniques for raising capital, what it takes as a CEO to build culture, and how to keep a startup ship headed in the right direction through the storms and sunshine.

From Midwest to MIT and Beyond

Doug Winter is originally from a small town in Ohio in the Midwest. While he says he appreciates the focus that gave him early on life, he's taken his career to both coasts and beyond.

Although he is an engineer at heart, working in nuclear power after attending Virginia Tech just didn't turn out to be the most exciting gig for Doug.

He returned to graduate school and attended MIT. There he participated in what is now the Leaders for Global Operations Program. A joint program between the business school and the engineering school sponsored by some large U.S. manufacturing companies like Intel, Motorola, and Amazon and Dell. While he learned a lot he also found that the classroom is no substitute for practical, real-world experience.

His classmate's brother worked at what was this tiny little startup company out in San Diego called Qualcomm. It was a combination of this experience, MIT instilling the purpose of being a change agent and watching his father's joy of starting his own business that really lit the entrepreneurial fire in Doug.

His first voyage into startup life was founding Objectiva Software Solutions, a software services business. After hitting millions of dollars in revenue, that company ended up selling to Document Sciences after a couple of years. In turn, that company sold to EMC for around $90 million.

The Seismic Shift: From Bootstrapping to Millions in VC Money

After Objectiva, Doug launched Seismic with three other co-founders. They started off bootstrapping not wanting the pressure or distraction that comes with fundraising.

Seismic is a SaaS provider which sells to enterprise companies. Their sales enablement platform conquers the common challenges businesses are facing with content. All too often, sales is drowning in content making it difficult to find what you want. While marketers grow frustrated with creating volumes of content that is never seeing the light of day Seismic aligns sales and marketing in a way that makes content more useful and relevant for each buyer interaction.

At one point, the founding team realized they were going to watch the whole market go fly by if they didn't accelerate and go a little bit faster. They recognized that this space was a much bigger opportunity than originally imagined. They saw the potential to not just build a $1 billion business, but a $10 billion business.  To make that happen, they not only needed to go faster, but would need help from advisors who had done this before, and obviously a need for capital.

Doug says "I'm sure I heard ten no's before we ended up hearing a yes." They've now landed investors including JMI Equity, General Atlantic, Jackson Square Ventures, Lightspeed, and T. Rowe Price. That includes their recent $100 million Series E financing.

This founder's tips for fundraising:

  1. Start every investor presentation by focusing on the customers
  2. Be talking to potential investors and updating them all the time
  3. Get warm introductions
  4. Make sure you have a good story

Cultivating Distributed Company Culture

Seismic now has around 600 employees. They are spread out from the headquarters in San Diego, California to Boston, offices in Chicago, Durham and New York. Overseas they now have people in London, Paris, Sydney, and Melbourne.

While Doug is proud of the diversity of cultural ecosystems these offices have, he also appreciates the importance of connectivity, even if all of your team is remote.

A core part of this culture is over-communicating. Doug says he wants people to be able to ask anything they want, even if he can't share the answers. Post-board meetings this founder hosts an all-hands meeting to download as much as he can with the rest of the team.

Also critical to Seismic's culture is celebrating each other's' successes. Every time the sales team lands a new customer, they send out an email celebrating and crediting that success to all the others involved, from marketing to the Customer Success department, contracts and product team.

Your Job as CEO

Asked what one piece of advice he'd give himself as an entrepreneur before starting a business, Doug Winter says "You have to believe in yourself, and you have to not question and dwell on all the reasons why you can't do something."

He goes on to say "The only way you can possibly be successful is you go all in and you trust in your own judgment and your own ability to execute." He adds "Realize that you can be successful and that making mistakes is part of the process, and not to get too fixated on those things."

From his perspective, there is going to be a lot of persistence required. From getting those first sales to fundraising, and growth pains, there will be as many dark days as there are great ones. As he puts it "just don't quit and never give up."

Doug recommends that when everyone is celebrating funding or sales goals being hit, founders need to keep the staff focused on doing the work.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The challenges of bootstrapping your business
  • Fundraising techniques
  • How to build a great company culture
  • Staying focused when distractions are always around you

Israeli startup company protecting buildings and systems from cyber threats, Terafence, joins Innosphere Incubation Program - GlobeNewswire

Posted: 29 Apr 2019 12:11 PM PDT

Colorado, April 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Innosphere, Colorado's incubator program dedicated to accelerating the success of science and technology-based companies, has announced that Israeli-based cyber security startup company, Terafence Ltd., has been accepted into the program. Each year, Innosphere provides business support to a limited number of international companies. To help these companies achieve business success in the U.S., Innosphere supports the startup teams on commercialization efforts and gaining U.S. market access.Terafence has developed a proprietary cyber security solution with an advanced microchip and firmware, called TFence™, which isolates IoT and NoT (network of IoT) devices while maintaining uninterrupted data flow and control. This type of solution for cyber-secure connectivity and protecting IoT devices has become critical as more cyber threats are being launched through poorly protected IoT assets like edge-based IP cameras."Terafence has significantly differentiated technology for cyber protection of IoT and connected devices, a very experienced management team, and great outside investors," said Mike Freeman, Innosphere CEO. "Increasingly, many IoT devices are being compromised due to their inadequate protection from attacks. Terafence's solution protects commercial buildings, critical assets, and systems from all types of cyber threats, making this a timely technology addressing cyber security.""We're excited to be working with Innosphere's experienced team and advisors to make significant improvements in our U.S. market," said Pini Huber, Terafence vice president of sales."As the race for monitoring and surveillance continues, experts predict that more than half of new businesses will deploy edge-based IoT devices by 2020," said Huber. "Terafence will offer protection with no security-risk tradeoff for countless industries and applications."AttachmentsInnosphere_logo_vert_RGB_color_orange-circleTerafencePini Huber Terafence pini@terafence.com

Grocery startup Honestbee makes layoffs and cuts costs as it prepares to raise more money - TechCrunch

Posted: 30 Apr 2019 04:06 AM PDT

Asia Pacific grocery delivery startup Honestbee has confirmed it is suspending business in half of the eight markets it operates in and laying off 10 percent of its 1,000 staff. The cost-cutting appears to be part of belt-tightening ahead of a planned new injection of funding, TechCrunch has come to learn.

According to a statement shared today, Honestbee is "halting our services in Hong Kong and Indonesia" while its business in Japan and the Philippines — and some partnerships in other countries — will be "temporarily suspended" while an internal review is conducted. It also operates in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand (where it has paused its food delivery service) and Malaysia.

One of the big concerns around Honestbee's future is its lack of financing, as TechCrunch reported last week. The company has raised around $60 million in disclosed funding from investors, which does not match its currently monthly losses of around $6.5 million. A source told TechCrunch that Honestbee is expecting to win new financing by the middle May and that will give it a further year of runway. However, it is unclear what investor is providing the money and exactly how much it might be. The source suggested it may be Formation Group, which has backed the company since its $15 million Series A round was announced in October 2015.

An Honestbee spokesperson declined to comment on the company's funding plans.

Beyond the cash burn, we reported that the company has unpaid bills owed to a range of suppliers and partners across its eight markets. Honestbee said last week that it would layoff six percent of staff but we reported at the time that more terminations were planned — today's statement confirms that the number is indeed higher than first disclosed.

We also wrote that four-year-old Honestbee had told staff in Singapore, its HQ, that it would not make payroll on time this month. The company said today that is not true. Sources told TechCrunch that Honestbee told staff last week that management in Singapore would not be paid on time, but an update this week communicated that the payment would not, in fact, be delayed after all.

New funding may stave off the need to sell the business, but Honestbee's ongoing talks with suitors — which we reported have included ride-hailing firms Go-Jek and Grab — are ongoing. Possible outcomes could include the company's selling its local operations in some markets in Southeast Asia to streamline its costs. One thing we do know from today is that it will continue with its Habitat supermarket, which combines on- and offline retail and is likely to be capital intensive.

Here is the full statement from Honestbee:

In 2015, honestbee started in Singapore with the mission of providing positive social and financial impact on the lives and businesses that we touch. Today, we are a regional business committed to making great food experiences accessible to customers across Asia.

Over the past four years, we have demonstrated commitment to our staff, partners and customers, and continue to innovate and improve our business to stay relevant in today's rapidly-changing business environment. The launch of habitat by honestbee in Singapore last October marks the next phase in our evolution as a food company.

As part of an ongoing strategic review of our business, we are halting our services in Hong Kong and Indonesia, as well as our food vertical in Thailand. Our services in Japan and the Philippines, along with specific partnerships in others markets are also temporarily suspended as part of this review. This is necessary to help us focus and align our regional business, and more importantly, to enable us to better meet our customers' needs. The status of honestbee's business in the remaining markets stands unchanged.

Some roles within the organisation will no longer be available. Approximately 10% of our global headcount in the organisation are affected.

There have been media reports regarding payroll delay for our employees. We would like to stress that this is untrue. We will ensure that all employees across all markets, including Singapore, are paid in a timely manner.

In addition, we are also committed to fulfilling our financial obligations to all Bees, partners and vendors.

For context, our original report is below:


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