Realizing Paradoxes[1]

Posted on: August 4, 2020 by Darshan Rawal in Market

When anyone asks me what does Isima do, I reply, “we realize paradoxes.” This epiphany has roots back to three incidents in our journey of launching Isima. Let me explain.

Paradox: noun – a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.

That’s a paradox!

The first one was when Monish and I had just begun the entrepreneurial journey we used a tagline in our business card which was

On Oct 13th, 2017 (it was Friday the 13th), we met a few Distinguished Technologists from HPE in Fremont, CA.  We offered them our cards, and one of them exclaimed, “That tagline is a paradox.”  We looked at each other, perplexed, explained our thoughts, and he didn’t budge.  After the meeting, we realized either we are naive to assume we can tackle this massive challenge; or just plain wrong.  As an entrepreneur, there is only one way to find out – believe in your gut, show the world that they are wrong, and build the (proverbial) $1B company. We obliged.

Are we nuts?

If there was a moment that was low for us, it was right around the Engineering Capital Summit held in October 2017Adrian Cockroft, VP Cloud Architecture strategy @ AWS, was giving the closing keynote.  Forty minutes into his 45-minute session to a room full of enterprise innovators was a message which was received as “You all are wasting your time.  It doesn’t matter whether you build above us, peripheral to us, AWS has the machinery to conquer that market”.  It sounded like IBM in the ’80s using its enormous market power to out-innovate any upcoming player[2]. What stayed with us was the last five minutes.  There he explained areas where the next two decades in computer science innovation would come from – two of which were foundational to Isima.  Our resolve solidified.

Living with Paradoxes.

The third incident happened at the Engineering Capital Summit held in October 2018. A few months earlier, we had raised our seed round from Ashmeet @ Engineering Capital, and Dheeraj Pandey, the CEO, and co-founder of Nutanix, was delivering the closing keynote.  He explained how Nutanix reached $1B in ARR before AWS, how there were many near-death experiences, and how Nutanix spawned an entire cohort of $1B companies.  Amongst the many gems of advice he shared with entrepreneurs, one of them was to learn to deal with paradoxes in a high growth startup.  We decided to one-up this advice – intentionally look to realize paradoxes.

The Organization to realize paradoxes

Monish and I would be dishonest if we took full credit for this unconventional approach.  There were concerns about doing engineering bravado or worse GTM bravado.  But as the king advised Churchill days before negotiating[3], “listen to the people.”  We did just that – learned what the market was teaching us about the pains and spent judicious energy on building a unique product to solve that pain – even though everyone thought it was a paradox[4].   Rounding ourselves with the resolves of Pradeep and Tamura San (as we fondly call him) gave us the wind behind our sails to launch.

Today we are emerging out of stealth to announce , which has been validated by and earned the trust of challenging environments such as Telcos.  With , we are defining a new category of data management – HyperConverged Data ManagementTM for API, AI, BI use cases and making it available in a self-serve manner[5]. We are thankful to our investors (Ashmeet, Ken, and Najib), our countless coaches, and, most importantly, the market for believing in and keeping us honest.  In the coming days and weeks, we will share how this ethos of realizing paradoxes is infused within every aspect of Isima – GTM, Product, and Engineering.

Onward.

P.S: If you are an entrepreneur aspiring to realize paradoxes in any industry (selfishly other than Data Management), do reach out to Ashmeet. He recently raised a new fund.

To hear perspectives from my fellow partners in crime, see here, here, and here.  The press release announcing our launch is here.

To get started on your journey, click here. You can reach us @ imagine@isima.io or +1(833)-API-AIBI.

[1] Did you notice the title is a paradox to most?
[2] This strategy at AWS has been covered recently in the media, here and here 3+ years since that talk.
[3] As depicted in the movie, Darkest Hour.
[4] How can a startup of 15+ people attempt to think end-to-end in a market as massive as data management, attempt to solve problems at stringent concerns like, a Telco, and do so in days?
[5] A paradox considered by the industry.