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How We Hatched: Mike Brown, Co-Founder and CTO of Strider
17th January 2023 • The Pair Program • hatch I.T.
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How We Hatched: Mike Brown, Co-Founder and CTO of Strider

Welcome to another episode of our series "How We Hatched" where we have candid conversations with tech founders and unveil their unique startup journeys.

In this episode, our host Tim Winkler speaks with Mike Brown, Co-Founder and CTO of Strider.

As a serial entrepreneur, Mike has had a front row seat in the world of data startups. He offers a unique perspective on what it’s like to be part of a startup at every career level – from junior engineer to being on the founding team. Mike has been awarded 28 patents for his work and is a frequent speaker on big data and its business applications. Today, Mike leads the technology development at Strider, a startup that empowers organizations with the data and tools to protect their innovations and compete for the long run.

During this episode, Mike shares an inspiring account of his professional journey and the lessons he learned along the way.

Transcripts

Tim:

Welcome to this episode of How We Hatched a bonus

Tim:

podcast series by hatchpad.

Tim:

I'm your host, Tim Winkler.

Tim:

Join me as we dive into candid conversations with tech founders

Tim:

and leaders, and unveil their unique startup journeys.

Intro:

On today's episode, we sit down with Mike Brown, the CTO and co-founder

Intro:

of Strider, a software development startup that provides data-driven solutions to

Intro:

companies that want to prevent IP theft.

Intro:

Mike breaks down what it's like to take a startup public, how Strider's leadership

Intro:

navigated growing an organization during a pandemic, and the core values

Intro:

that helped guide Strider to a hundred percent customer retention rate.

Intro:

So grab a drink, relax, and enjoy the episode.

Tim:

Uh, we'll jump, uh, jump in.

Tim:

Mike, thank you for joining us on the Para Program.

Tim:

Um, This is another bonus episode of a miniseries that we

Tim:

call, you know, how we Hatched.

Tim:

And, uh, it's a fun discussion just to kind of hear a little bit more about

Tim:

your unique career journey, you know, where you came from and how you arrived

Tim:

at this current point in your seat today as a C t O and co-founder of Strider.

Tim:

Um, I always like to start by, you know, having you provide the, the listeners with

Tim:

the quick overview of Strider and the, the problems that you're solving here.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

Thanks Timon.

Mike:

Thanks for having me today.

Mike:

It's, it's great.

Mike:

It's been great partnering with you.

Mike:

Uh, so Strider's goal here is to help large companies protect their ip.

Mike:

That's at the very high level perspective, right?

Mike:

Um, to that end, we've, we've taken a large set of data, um, and we provide an

Mike:

outside analysis for that company so that way the company doesn't have to worry

Mike:

about shipping large volumes of PII to us.

Mike:

We're able to automatically determine who are the employees and past employees.

Mike:

Figure out what all their IP is that they have so we can automatically

Mike:

figure out how it needs to be

Tim:

protected.

Tim:

Nice.

Tim:

Yeah, certainly a mission-driven company and, and solving some big world problems,

Tim:

um, that we all face, uh, today.

Tim:

And, uh, I, I, I would love to hear, you know, a little bit of a flashback,

Tim:

if you will, on your journey.

Tim:

Um, maybe start from, from the roots, you know, where, where did you grow up?

Tim:

And, and always interested to hear how you got into the world of tech.

Mike:

Yeah, it was quite a little journey.

Mike:

Uh, I start, I was born in a small coal town in Pennsylvania.

Mike:

Uh, it sounds kind of funny.

Mike:

It's called Shamokin, Pennsylvania.

Mike:

, uh, maybe 6,000 people live there or is this classic small town?

Mike:

One middle school, one uh, elementary school and one high school.

Mike:

Um, they were big into recycling back then.

Mike:

Cause uh, I got to, my middle school was my mom's old high school.

Mike:

My elementary school was my dad's old high school.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So it was kind of a very small town.

Mike:

Um, when I was in the eighth grade, my parents moved down to Frederick, Maryland.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, I thought that was a huge place because they had like two high

Mike:

schools, something else, um, that, that, uh, when I started there in

Mike:

eighth grade, they required every student to take a programming class.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So I had a nine week programming class and absolutely fell in love with it.

Mike:

Like it was like dock to water type stuff.

Mike:

Then when I went to high school, uh, back in that time, that high, my

Mike:

high school was an old magnet type school, so they actually offered

Mike:

computer programming for four years.

Mike:

So I had taken, when I graduated high school, I had, uh, been

Mike:

programming already for four years in high school, two years of basic

Mike:

year Pascal, one year of Fortran.

Mike:

But the cool part was, um, I was never a big sports player, very

Mike:

uncoordinated, but I was on the varsity computer science team.

Mike:

Uh, when we actually did competitive programming.

Mike:

Cool.

Mike:

And, um, my high school, we were first place that year in the country,

Mike:

so kind of got into it pretty early.

Mike:

Um, my dad was a cabinet maker.

Mike:

My mom was an accounting clerk, so my parents told me very early I had to

Mike:

figure out a way to get through college.

Mike:

I, I worked my way through college.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

Started, um, at 19 at IBM working during the day, uh, in the, in

Mike:

the imaging processing group and finished up my bachelor's degree

Mike:

at, at University of Maryland.

Tim:

Very nice.

Tim:

So you were working at IBM while going to school?

Mike:

Yeah, I worked full-time.

Mike:

I went to school full-time and,

Tim:

and, uh, coming outta school, did you, uh, continue with I b m or where,

Tim:

where did your, your path lead you, uh, once grad, once you graduated?

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

So once I graduated, uh, six months after I grad, yeah, about six months after,

Mike:

uh, I B M did their first layoffs ever.

Mike:

So they illuminated my entire division.

Mike:

And that's when it was one of the first startups I did.

Mike:

So four of us started our own company, um, that was much more in the bootstrap model,

Mike:

did consulting, built some products, um, very heavy in the image processing lens.

Mike:

I did that for about three to four years.

Mike:

What was the name of this?

Tim:

This startup?

Mike:

So that startup was called prag, pragmatic Image Technologies.

Mike:

Okay.

Mike:

So pretty small, pretty small shop at the time, we didn't, we didn't grow.

Mike:

And that's the, that's a challenge when you do a, a

Mike:

bootstrap kind of startup, right?

Mike:

If you're funding growth based on, you know, the billable hours

Mike:

you have, it's, it's tough.

Tim:

I don't think I realized this, uh, that, um, I saw it on your, on

Tim:

your profile, but I, I don't think I realized it was a, a startup.

Tim:

So, um, I'm always intrigued with folks that dive into a startup, uh,

Tim:

you know, a pretty early age and, um, you know, coming out of a, a.

Tim:

Stable company like ibm.

Tim:

Well, I guess maybe you didn't feel the stability if they were going

Tim:

through the layoffs at that time.

Tim:

But, um, where, where do you think this, um, uh, interest in,

Tim:

in the startup world came from?

Tim:

Is it something that your, your, your folks kind of were

Tim:

any entrepreneurs as well?

Tim:

Or did you just meet up with a buddy that said, let's, let's give it a shot at?

Tim:

Tell me a little bit about that.

Mike:

I, you know, I, I, my dad, my dad li worked in the manufacturing

Mike:

space primarily in his life.

Mike:

So I saw that, you know, he wasn't able to control his own destiny.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, and I think the best part about a startup and, and going out and

Mike:

starting your own venture is the ability to, to, to shape your own

Mike:

future and to build something.

Mike:

I, I was heavily influenced by his, you know, ability to create cool thing, you

Mike:

know, wood products and cabinets and, and build things quite proficiently.

Mike:

I just did that on the software side.

Mike:

Mm.

Mike:

So a little bit of both of those things kind of came together

Mike:

to give me the ability to.

Mike:

That's why I've always kind of gravitated towards startups.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So I think Strider is actually the fifth startup I've been part of.

Mike:

Wow,

Tim:

that's really neat.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

I, uh, I love that, uh, being in control of, of your destiny.

Tim:

It's something that I actually preach to my team quite a bit as well.

Tim:

You know, especially when you're going through a lot of adversity.

Tim:

You know, you, you all have the ability to steer the ship, you know, um, you

Tim:

know, those folks that, that are leading the team and, uh, as a co-founder,

Tim:

you know, that's, that's something that you gotta be passionate about.

Tim:

Otherwise, it's, it's tough to, to keep, keep folks motivated.

Tim:

So, um, always interested to, to hear that.

Tim:

So thanks for sharing that.

Tim:

And then, you know, looks like you, you spent a couple of years and, um, uh,

Tim:

maybe in a couple of larger organizations, uh, after pragmatic image technologies.

Tim:

So, um, you know, talk me through those, uh, years and then, you know, obviously,

Tim:

we'll, we'll lead into your, your long tenure here at comScore, um, as well.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

So,

Mike:

uh, a after, um, You know, I, I was really wanting to finish

Mike:

off my master's degree, right?

Mike:

So I didn't, I didn't really wanna take off time from working to do that.

Mike:

So I wanted do that and that's kind of when, that's it.

Mike:

Let's try like some of these smaller, let's try, try a larger company, right?

Mike:

Do that for a bit.

Mike:

Take a break from trying to build a business while doing all that stuff.

Mike:

And the, do you know how it is?

Mike:

Right?

Mike:

You're like, you know, when you're, when you're, when you're, when you in a startup

Mike:

or whatever, you're working during the day and planning what you gotta do at

Mike:

night, it's, it's, it's all encompassing on a graduate degree on top of that.

Mike:

It's a big, that's a, it's even harder.

Mike:

Hmm.

Mike:

So, um, I figured, oh, let do this, and I'm in Virginia, I was living in Maryland

Mike:

at the time, all these different kind of government type places around mm-hmm.

Mike:

, you know, government contract.

Mike:

Lemme try one of those and I'll do the, just the master's of Great

Mike:

Night was talking to folks and I went to this one company, uh, global

Mike:

Management Systems up in Bethesda and uh, was talking to them and show up.

Mike:

And I get put on like a small.

Mike:

Project, and it's kind of funny, I've been in the work

Mike:

professionally my entire adult life.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

in the, I think I've only ever been on a government project for two months.

Mike:

Wow.

Mike:

Um, that was the two months, first two months I was on that project.

Mike:

Um, but then my manager came to me and says, Hey, I, I saw that you speak German.

Mike:

I'm like, well, yeah, it took German in high school like three years.

Mike:

Oh, okay.

Mike:

You know German.

Mike:

Then like, well, you know, like three years, how would

Mike:

you like to go to Germany?

Mike:

I'm like, that sounds great.

Mike:

When next week.

Mike:

Oh, how long?

Mike:

Nine months there.

Mike:

I was off in Germany, actually took my final exams from my hotel room in

Mike:

Germany and uh, I got true immersion man.

Mike:

I was in the German, uh, working in an office at the German railway Deutsche Wow.

Mike:

Keyboard in German, Oracle and German Lotus notes in German.

Mike:

Wow.

Mike:

What an experience.

Mike:

Quite an experience.

Mike:

It was a great time.

Mike:

So best way to see Europe is on somebody else's dime, I'll tell you.

Mike:

Yeah, sure.

Mike:

Um, So I was pretty well set up.

Mike:

Um, finished off that stint, uh, came back, finished off my back, my master's,

Mike:

and that's where I went to my next startup, which was, uh, para Technologies.

Mike:

So that's where I, uh, had the good fortune of meeting, uh, Dr.

Mike:

Maje Abraham, who was the co-founder of, who founded Peregrine, who is

Mike:

also the co-founder of comScore.

Mike:

I see.

Tim:

Okay.

Tim:

Right.

Mike:

So started there.

Mike:

Uh, we built a one, you know, multi-dimensional database, engine engine.

Mike:

So you, a central theme of a lot of things in, from a data has always been data.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Right.

Mike:

I've always been interested in startups where there's a focus on,

Mike:

you know, businesses in that area.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

did that, uh, showed up.

Mike:

Two months later they got acquired.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Not too bad.

Mike:

You know, show start, show up at the startup and three months later

Mike:

you're, you're already acquired

Mike:

. Tim: Was that something that was,

Mike:

you or was it just kind of just the timing of it just happened to, to

Mike:

be Right.

Mike:

Timing worked out, right.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

So, um, so was there, and then I went to a small project at, uh, N E S D

Mike:

working on for na uh, NASDAQ area to help, you know, get ahead of some of the

Mike:

items for individual filing and things required for brokers to get licensed.

Mike:

Learned about that.

Mike:

Um, then after that, uh, kind of, I think then I kind of

Mike:

made my way to comScore, right?

Mike:

It was a couple, well here and there type places, and that's where, um, Maji

Mike:

had actually reached out to me, um, and said, Hey, I'm starting up another thing.

Mike:

I'd like you to be part of the team.

Mike:

I was like, I don't know Maji.

Mike:

I kinda like where the thing I'm at and this is where you at.

Mike:

And at that time my, well, my wife and that was my girlfriend.

Mike:

She was working right across the street.

Mike:

I was like, okay, at least I'll stop over.

Mike:

I'll be able to see my girlfriend.

Mike:

Go for dinner or something afterwards.

Mike:

So I stopped in and he was telling me what he was planning to do with comScore.

Mike:

Right?

Mike:

Let's, let's, you know, at this time, this is 99, we're trying to fi they were a lot

Mike:

of, like all the.com, meaning it was truly going on, said, Hey, I wanna be able to

Mike:

predict total visitations to websites, but not just the visitations, but how much

Mike:

money in was being transferred to move beyond eyeballs to actually understand

Mike:

how much revenue a company was pulling in.

Mike:

Hmm.

Mike:

I thought it was a pretty compelling and a different way to look at the market.

Mike:

So I signed on there and I was there for what, almost 18 years.

Mike:

Yeah.

Tim:

This is quite a journey here.

Tim:

Uh, we can, we can dissect this journey for, for a little bit.

Tim:

Um, so you start as a, as a, a senior developer.

Tim:

I, I take it, you know, how many folks are, uh, you know, there at this point.

Tim:

Just

Mike:

just to, I was the first engineer.

Mike:

I was the first engineer.

Mike:

Um, At that time when I, when I started and then they had a VP of

Mike:

engineering, um, that was hired after I had, you know, had gone through the

Mike:

process of talking to Maje mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Um, and I came in, I was like, Hey, we gotta figure out how to, we have

Mike:

20, we presented 21 slides, got 21 million in in series A funding.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, we have a bunch of servers showing up.

Mike:

We gotta figure out how to make all this work.

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

And

Tim:

that's a healthy chunk back then.

Tim:

21 million.

Tim:

Yeah,

Mike:

21 million was like, it was back in the day pre precede.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

But you didn't have like, but you didn't have like these nice things like AWS where

Mike:

you can just log on and spin up servers.

Mike:

Sure, yeah.

Mike:

I actually delegated the C to go get a, uh, U-Haul truck.

Mike:

Cause we had to get the U-Haul to drive it over to the data

Mike:

center and do stuff like that.

Mike:

. . Tim: Wow.

Mike:

That's, that's wild.

Mike:

So, so you're, so you're, uh, joining this company as a senior developer and you

Mike:

know, first engineer really kind of hired.

Mike:

Obviously I had a past, uh, relationship with the leadership and, uh, did you

Mike:

have any idea at the, you know, for one, I guess the, the scope and scale

Mike:

of what was getting ready to take place?

Mike:

I mean, what, how was the vision kind of presented to you?

Mike:

Was it a, uh, something that you're just kind of, you're gonna go with the

Mike:

flow here and see, see where it goes?

Mike:

But you know, it, it obviously , uh, we'll get to it, it turns into

Mike:

quite a, quite a success story.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

I think, you know,

Mike:

I, I, I'm always a, I, I, I, big fan of, of understanding the big picture.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, right, and then understanding there's a lot of little pieces.

Mike:

And it was, I, I will say that there were a lot of details

Mike:

we had to figure out started.

Mike:

It was, uh, like, oh, we'll just have some panelists.

Mike:

We'll recruit them.

Mike:

We'll figure out a statistical formula to have them represent the population we'll

Mike:

figure out all the transactions they made, multiply it together, and then that's it.

Mike:

It'll be easy.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, and you don't wanna talk about the devil and the details on this.

Mike:

It's a lot, right?

Mike:

So I think at that time we found that there was 27 different ways that

Mike:

you could check out of just Amazon.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

27 different, you know, checkout pages.

Mike:

The, the number of, you know, that was just for one, albeit

Mike:

very important site, right.

Mike:

Um, and all the different things like how do you actually count revenue, right?

Mike:

Do you count gift cards?

Mike:

Do you count, you know, uh, those type of things.

Mike:

So the more interesting things in a very strange way that prepared me very well

Mike:

for Strider was, uh, when we started moving internationally to understand like

Mike:

total, because you're trying, you, you know, nobody's curious about like how much

Mike:

revenue goes, they're curious about how much this comes from the us but mm-hmm.

Mike:

they wanna new world.

Mike:

Why?

Mike:

So we started trying to run numbers internationally and we saw these really

Mike:

strange problems, like, why is there such a large amount of people buying

Mike:

things from US sites in Germany?

Mike:

And Italy and things like that.

Mike:

And we were like, this is just doesn't make sense.

Mike:

We start figuring out, well these were folks stationed at military bases.

Mike:

Hmm.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So how do you figure out that a person using a computer in

Mike:

Germany is actually German?

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

You can't look at just their IP address.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

You can't look at their time zone, you can't look at these things.

Mike:

You actually have to figure out what is the, how many webpages are actually

Mike:

consuming in an end of language Sure.

Mike:

To get to this.

Mike:

I mean, just, just those kind of details are just amazing.

Tim:

Sure.

Tim:

So let's talk about your journey through here.

Tim:

So you were, you were here for, you said 18 years.

Tim:

Um, yeah.

Tim:

You know, from, from the, you know, year, you know, one to year five, you

Tim:

know, what is, what does this look like?

Tim:

Cuz it looks like you, you kind of quickly evolve into a, a, a VP kind

Tim:

of slot here, or tell me, tell me about that, that progression and,

Tim:

um, did you know going into this.

Tim:

That was gonna happen so quickly and, and the amount of, um, you know,

Tim:

growth that, that takes place here from a headcount perspective, you know,

Tim:

was, I'm always intrigued with, you know, how you evolve into this people

Tim:

manager, uh, which, you know, you, you have to take on at some point.

Tim:

So talk me through those first, uh, kinda like five years.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

I, I think in the first couple of months it's like, oh, I'll just go start off.

Mike:

I'll get, go code all day and I'll just, you know, I don't have to worry about

Mike:

managing people and all that kind stuff.

Mike:

I can just manage my code and life would be grand . Um, but then I realized like,

Mike:

the, the visions you have are just bigger.

Mike:

You need, you just can't do all of that with your two own, two hands.

Mike:

You need a team.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

And that's where I, I quickly got like, oh, I was hiring these people and started

Mike:

allocating the work to 'em, and I was like, well, you should be the manager.

Mike:

And then that naturally became the manager of managers right.

Mike:

To, to, to do all that.

Mike:

So really like the architect of the collection and the processing engine

Mike:

that was a was a com at the time.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. So the first few years of that was building that foundational layer.

Mike:

To get the company from just the initial a round through what they,

Mike:

we ended up doing through Series E.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, um, to go to a point that we could go public in, uh, 2007 mm-hmm.

Mike:

, which is the maturation time for a company and to, to going public.

Tim:

Right.

Tim:

When you went public, do you remember, uh, how big you guys were

Tim:

as a, as a company headcount wise?

Mike:

That's a good question.

Mike:

I think we were probably around 500 or so.

Tim:

And so you, uh, you know, first engineer hired, um, now you clearly have,

Tim:

uh, a lot of, you know, different kind of folks reporting in at that point.

Tim:

Um, you.

Tim:

Remain in, you remain in the seat, uh, you know, uh, after you go public.

Tim:

Well, let's, let's backtrack for a second.

Tim:

So, when you go public, I, you know, we just actually ran a, an episode

Tim:

about this, um, about post, you know, acquisition expectations, but Sure.

Tim:

You know, how do you get the team kind of rallied up for, you

Tim:

know, for this big announcement?

Tim:

And is it something that, um, you know, is like a, an office wide celebration?

Tim:

You know, I, I'm always interested to hear, you know,

Tim:

this is a big accomplishment.

Tim:

What, what, what goes on behind the scenes here?

Mike:

Yeah, it's a big, um, it, it, that's a, that is such

Mike:

a dance to organize, right?

Mike:

It's like you have all these things, like you have to start preparing people

Mike:

to say, Hey, we're going from being a private company to a public company.

Mike:

And there's like all these disclosure rules and you have to

Mike:

be careful about what you say, cuz it could influence the market.

Mike:

You don't wanna, you know, you don't wanna mess up the it note, right?

Mike:

So that's a hard part.

Mike:

And then there's a whole thing of how do you manage the, the team?

Mike:

Like when do they, with all the kind of questions, like the minute you go

Mike:

public, well that doesn't mean you get all your stock at that point, right?

Mike:

You have to, you know, especially when a new company issues stock

Mike:

through an IPO for the first time.

Mike:

You have to manage how much of the internal cap, uh,

Mike:

stock can be sold at a time.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, right?

Mike:

Because you don't want a whole bunch of people, but you almost have to

Mike:

almost educate a lot of these folks.

Mike:

Cause the first time they have a, any kind of large amount of stock

Mike:

offering, you have to explain to, you know, I think we did a couple classes

Mike:

explaining what's the difference between a market order and a limit order.

Mike:

Like, limit orders are your friends, right?

Mike:

Don't, just don't issue a market order if you have a thinly traded stock.

Mike:

Cause you could actually crash, you could lower the stock price.

Mike:

Um, and the first couple weeks after you go public, it's you have to sell folks.

Mike:

Like, listen, the things you do today will not influence the stock price today.

Mike:

Stop looking at the stock price.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

All day long that will not do anything for the stock price.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

stress you out, look at it at the end of the day, look at it

Mike:

at the end of the week, whatever.

Mike:

But the things you do today will influence the stock price three months,

Mike:

six months, a years down the road.

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So I think that's the biggest thing you have to do when, like, when you

Mike:

go through like an A P o, is you gotta help the team understand this

Mike:

thing of like what you're doing today influences things down the road.

Tim:

Sure.

Tim:

I almost use it as a motivator, you know, to, to kind of stay heads down.

Tim:

This isn't the end of it.

Tim:

You know, we gotta keep , keep, keep moving.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

You gotta think about like, remember you guys are the ones building the future.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

This is the things that you have to do now that will influence

Mike:

things way down the road.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

But things you do today are not gonna influence the stock price.

Tim:

So I, I wanna keep, I wanna keep, uh, moving through this, this experience

Tim:

through at comScore because, you know, one of the biggest things that

Tim:

we talk about, you know, Hatchpad is, um, how culture evolves at, at each

Tim:

different stage of a startup's growth.

Tim:

And, you know, I think, you know, those early days, right?

Tim:

That the seed, uh, series A stages, um, those can be really drastic jumps, uh,

Tim:

you know, where it goes from this kind of family environment to, you know,

Tim:

next thing you know is, you know, maybe you don't know everybody's name on the,

Tim:

you know, on, on a, on a Zoom call.

Tim:

But, um, you know, what, what was it for you that you would say was, you know,

Tim:

some of those challenges with kind of maintaining, you know, one like, you,

Tim:

you, these, these types of culture that you're, you're, you're building.

Tim:

Uh, and as a company gets larger, do you feel like, you know, some

Tim:

of that gets lost along the way?

Tim:

Um, you know, you, you're a unique.

Tim:

You're a unique, uh, individual in the sense that you spent

Tim:

18 years in a place, right?

Tim:

So for one that's super rare.

Tim:

Uh, but for two, you started from, you know, really early stages.

Tim:

And so I I, I'd love to take advantage of that knowledge and hear like,

Tim:

what, what were those, what were those drastic kind of changing points

Tim:

from a culture perspective as you're, as you're building this thing?

Tim:

Yeah, so I

Mike:

think, uh, you know, I think even as you're building a company, right?

Mike:

I think the biggest question a lot of folks, and, and we saw a lot of this

Mike:

during covid, which is the notion of people in multiple locations, right?

Mike:

I think the smartest thing we did early on at comScore and also is had,

Mike:

I think we'll pay huge dividends for us here at Strider, is the fact that we

Mike:

agree, we decide to do multiple offices very early in our journey, right?

Mike:

A lot of companies will, will go to this level.

Mike:

It's one building.

Mike:

This is headquarters, this is where everything's at, things like that.

Mike:

At comScore, we actually did that very early.

Mike:

We actually started up an office in Chicago.

Mike:

Hmm, I think it was right in like, we weren't even like eight months

Mike:

old and we had two offices, one in Virginia, one in one in Chicago.

Mike:

And you had to learn how to col, you know, collaborate with different

Mike:

time zones, different folks.

Mike:

And we, we chose very early to say that, no, not all engineering

Mike:

is gonna be just in Virginia.

Mike:

Were all in in Chicago.

Mike:

We had those functions in both locations, right?

Mike:

So from a culture perspective at these early ages, it's really good to get

Mike:

those early training wheels up to get, to understand how to build, like what

Mike:

is a company culture, but then how you can have those own little, like quirks

Mike:

that's respective to each location.

Mike:

So the Chicago office had some things they would do somewhat different

Mike:

than the Virginia office, but we had a common thing of like, this is how

Mike:

we jump in and we solve problems.

Mike:

We're data oriented, we focus on the customer.

Mike:

Things like that.

Mike:

We did pulled a lot of those same ideas, um, that we did during Covid.

Mike:

Two of my co, you know, Greg and Eric, they had to move out

Mike:

for family reasons out to Utah.

Mike:

We made the decision to have a stay here in Virginia and

Mike:

also have a presence in Utah.

Mike:

Okay.

Mike:

Built upon that.

Mike:

And I think that those, doing that early can be painful, but you learn so much

Mike:

from an organizational building, per organizational structure perspective.

Mike:

It helps you grow very fast.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Especially if you go down the path with doing some m and a and you

Mike:

acquire companies and things like that.

Mike:

You learn how that you can have a corporate culture, but with

Mike:

individual subcultures so that they can still feel unique.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, Check out myhatchpad.com/jobs:

Mike:

podcast inspired you to explore a new startup career opportunity?

Mike:

Then make sure to check out my hatchpad.com/jobs to browse startups

Mike:

by stage, tech stack and salary.

Tim:

So, yeah, cuz I, I do wanna lead into, to strider

Tim:

here in just a second, but Sure.

Tim:

Um, before we, before we, uh, make that, uh, transition, so you, you, you

Tim:

referenced the, the growth through, you know, some m and a comScore as well.

Tim:

Um, tell me about that.

Tim:

How you, you know, how you bring those folks in from a, you know, in

Tim:

an acquisition perspective, you know, making them feel like they're a part

Tim:

of the team and, and, um, you know, kind of level setting that across,

Tim:

you know, folks that were, you know, the, the, the com score, call 'em the

Tim:

OGs or whoever, what, what have you.

Tim:

But, you know, the, the new folks that come in, um, you know, making

Tim:

sure it's not in us versus them kind of feeling, what, what are you

Tim:

doing on your end, uh, as a leader?

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

And so I think the biggest thing I reinforce to both sides, right?

Mike:

The og right?

Mike:

And the, and the, and the new, the new organization coming in is

Mike:

companies are nothing without people.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

If, if you don't have the, if the, you don't have those people

Mike:

that invented the items or created the technology, how are you gonna

Mike:

get any future growth outta that?

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

The idea is we didn't buy it for just a piece in time.

Mike:

It's about building that up and, and we're gonna, you know, doing that.

Mike:

But, you know, a help them adopt that.

Mike:

They are, they can have and still maintain some of their own unique culture, but

Mike:

realize you're part of the bigger thing.

Mike:

And, but it's not like, oh, it's a separate company.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Right.

Mike:

You're part of comsco, now you're part of this organization and do this.

Mike:

And that, that model worked out really well.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Because usually when you're doing acquisition, their headquarters

Mike:

are in some other location.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Right.

Mike:

And then you have to do that.

Mike:

And that, that we were able to do that for like a team in Amsterdam, team in

Mike:

Santiago, Chile out in, uh, uh, Seattle.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, California.

Mike:

It, it, it worked that model, I think in Toronto, I mean it worked out quite well.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

to just.

Mike:

realize to everyone that's saying, listen, yeah, they're the new folks, but

Mike:

remember, we need that technology makes us better, and it's something so we could

Mike:

bring to market and makes the, the brand and the company so much more valuable.

Mike:

That's how you build upon that.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Tim: Yeah.

Mike:

I think that's fascinating too, and I think that's something that,

Mike:

you know, um, you know, when you're aligning with co-founders and starting

Mike:

something new, I mean, I'm, that's, that's experience that I think is

Mike:

probably held extremely valuable.

Mike:

Um, you know, bringing into the, the, your, uh, a new venture.

Mike:

Um, I'm always curious on how, how much that, uh, might appeal to

Mike:

you, your co-founders at Strider, but we'll, we'll talk to this, uh,

Mike:

to this strider transition here.

Mike:

Uh, we'll wrap, um, com score up.

Mike:

So, you know, 2009 to 2017, this is a, this is a, a huge stretch

Mike:

and, and your professional career and probably, you know, your,

Mike:

your personal life is evolving.

Mike:

What was it about, you know, towards the, the later stages here at comScore

Mike:

that, that made you feel like it's, it's my time is my time is up here.

Mike:

It's time for, for a new chapter.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

I mean, comScore is a fantastic experience, right?

Mike:

I mean, I, I, during my time at comScore, I got married, had both my kids lost

Mike:

my father, my wife lost her mother.

Mike:

I mean, we had all kinds of, you know, major events you could imagine.

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

During that time, uh, professionally, uh, invent gutless inventor

Mike:

on two dozen plus patents.

Mike:

Wow.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

On all kinds of different technologies from biometrics to, uh, Bluetooth

Mike:

frequency to cellular phone, you know, tracking, uh, to privacy

Mike:

protections, those type of things.

Mike:

Um, and, and really got to grow to a, a, a major worldwide organization.

Mike:

I had 450 engineers reporting to me, uh, in the technology

Mike:

organization and running Wow.

Mike:

Almost a nine figure budget.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

It was grew, grew a lot faster than I thought.

Mike:

You know, bigger than different.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

. Um, and, but you know, as things go, then we, we merged with another organization

Mike:

was with a company called Retrak.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

At that point, a lot of my friends, um, had, had moved on right after that.

Mike:

And for me, it wasn't the same group.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

The maid who I'd been with, you know, for many years, uh, Cameron Sge, et cetera.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, all those folks, they were, they were friends of mine.

Mike:

So it wasn't the same for me.

Mike:

And I was like, you know, I've, I've had a good run, told my wife

Mike:

I'm gonna take six months off.

Mike:

I'm gonna work on that honey do list you got for me.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, and I had time to do a nice orderly transition.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So it was, it was the time for me to move on to just like, let me figure

Mike:

out what my next chapter in life is.

Mike:

But I wasn't exactly sure what that was.

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

So that's kind of how that kind of came to the end.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

Sounds like you left on a high note though.

Tim:

You know, it, it was, um, you left on, on your terms and, and, um, you

Tim:

know, were, you know, made a conscious decision to take some time off and,

Tim:

uh, and then, you know, move on to the next, the, the next, uh, venture.

Tim:

And, uh, we, we don't need to spend too much time on, on id.me, um, cuz I want

Tim:

to, you know, spend some, some good amount of time on Shriner here, but Sure.

Tim:

You know, so you joined, uh, um, another startup id me, uh, they're also a, a local

Tim:

startup and yeah, local startup here.

Tim:

Um, did a coup a couple of years here or just over a year or so.

Tim:

18

Mike:

months.

Mike:

Just 18 months.

Mike:

Um, so, uh, uh, Linda Abraham was an advisor.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, who was Ji's wife at, um, at comScore.

Mike:

Also one of the founders.

Mike:

And she had, was an advisor to id me and introduced me to Blake.

Mike:

Blake and I had a couple coffees, got to know each other, got along really great.

Mike:

Said, Hey, I really like someone who came in, who has understand how to

Mike:

build a, you know, scale and engineering team, help scale technology, get

Mike:

some of the items ready to, to go as we move, as to position the company

Mike:

well for, for future growth, right?

Mike:

Security administration cetera, in and, and helped put a lot of the building

Mike:

blocks in place for them to get to the, to their unicorn status, right?

Mike:

They got to some pretty large deals, got, they were the first company to get

Mike:

certified against the NIST 863 3, right?

Mike:

Which is the, the highest level of verification out

Mike:

there in the market today.

Mike:

Um, and I think they're still the only one to be verified against that, that

Mike:

specification, which is a pretty big wow.

Mike:

Um, but then this sometimes happens, right?

Mike:

You, you, uh, your network reaches out to you.

Mike:

Um, and I, I still call it the ultimate date, you know,

Mike:

the ultimate, uh, blind date.

Mike:

I, uh, some friends of mine that, uh, In the tech community

Mike:

that are up at Data Tribe.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

Who gave it strider to their seed funding.

Mike:

Reach out and says, we got some FE people who love to meet you.

Mike:

Mike, can you come up to Fulton, Maryland one night?

Mike:

I'm like, Fulton.

Mike:

Where?

Mike:

Where's Ful?

Mike:

That's actually outside, uh, jpl.

Mike:

Uh, not apl.

Mike:

John Hopkins.

Mike:

A p l.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

There's

Tim:

quite a bit of innovation happening out there actually.

Tim:

Uh, there is lot of cyber as

Mike:

well.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

To work in cyber.

Mike:

Um, went up there one night and uh, that's where I got a chance

Mike:

to meet Greg and, uh, Mike Janky, who was, who started Data Tribe.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. And they were like, you know, there's, there's a big problem in the US right?

Mike:

There's China is stealing 600 billion a year in IP from the US every year.

Mike:

I was just blown away.

Mike:

Hmm.

Mike:

Um, and so from my own personal experience, I've had my code stolen.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Not by China, but.

Mike:

But I've had it stolen.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, I've had my IP infringed on from patents that I've invented.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

And that's just wrong.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So that message or that issue really resonated with me.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. So they, they had me, they hooked me pretty quick from a mission perspective.

Mike:

Um, as we walked, this was just

Tim:

the, the co-founders at this point of Yeah.

Tim:

This

Mike:

is just the, just the VC and the, and, and one of the other co-founders.

Mike:

Yeah.

Tim:

And, and, and for the listeners, so, uh, data Tribe is

Tim:

kinda like a venture studio, right?

Tim:

They, they, yeah.

Tim:

Yeah, yeah,

Mike:

yeah.

Mike:

Think about like the East Coast Y Combinator kind of a concept.

Mike:

Right?

Mike:

So like, you know, they give you, um, 2 million, you know,

Mike:

in, in, in funds to get started.

Mike:

They provide space for you to work.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

some in kind services in-kind a ton of in-kind services to help you get started.

Mike:

Credits in the, in, uh, you know, all the different cloud

Mike:

providers get up and running.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Tim: They've produced some allstar uh,

Mike:

Um, uh, so they've like Dragos was another one,

Mike:

like Veil Dragos.

Mike:

Yep.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

It's, um, some, some pretty really stellar startups have come outta that.

Mike:

Outta that, yeah.

Tim:

That model.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

And, and how do you know how they, um, tracked down these, uh, the,

Tim:

the two, the two founders from

Mike:

Schrider?

Mike:

So, it's kind of funny.

Mike:

So, uh, Greg Lek, who's our C e o mm-hmm.

Mike:

, he's fluent in Chinese and he has an identical twin Eric

Mike:

Lek, who's fluent in Russian.

Mike:

Fascinating, you know, background alone by there.

Mike:

But Greg had done a lot of work on the initial investigations

Mike:

into a congressional 3 0 1 report.

Mike:

So he did a lot of the work of understanding how China was stealing this

Mike:

IP and been true subject matter expert.

Mike:

Eric had gone a slightly different path after his MBA and actually was a VC.

Mike:

So he was actually helping to build the VC side up of the, uh, soan

Mike:

of Oman's Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So they were pitching Eric on to invest in data drive.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

To get in on some of these companies.

Mike:

And the kind of the conversation came up said, oh, I'm part of it.

Mike:

I have a twin.

Mike:

And like, oh, he has a twin, and he speaks Chinese.

Mike:

And started talking like, what, what Greg was doing, which was this

Mike:

whole thing of helping companies understand how their IP guy got stolen.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

and, and Greg and Eric had been talking about for an idea that

Mike:

they should make this like not just a service, but a product, right.

Mike:

Like a SaaS solution.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

and janky, like janky from data chat was saying like, yeah, that's, we

Mike:

should, you should definitely do that.

Mike:

We should get that going.

Mike:

Why are you coming to my shop?

Mike:

We'll do that here.

Tim:

Yeah, that's fascinating cuz they're, they're from Utah.

Tim:

Um, and Data Tribe being, they're actually from Maine.

Tim:

. Oh, they're

Mike:

from Maine.

Mike:

Ok.

Mike:

So their family moved back to Utah.

Mike:

It's a little bit hard.

Mike:

Like it's, they like Maine, Utah, Taiwan Right.

Mike:

Rules.

Mike:

They, they, they, they, they got around,

Tim:

they got around, uh, they found themselves in Fulton, Maryland for,

Tim:

uh, you know, for a meeting with you.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

And, um, you know, it sounds like you, your, the mission was, uh,

Tim:

you know, resonating with you.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

What was it about your experience that, you know, was, was so appealing to them?

Mike:

So it was kind of funny.

Mike:

So it was like, we're talking about this and they're like, okay, well

Mike:

okay, you, I, I get you understand data and playing with like, crazy volumes.

Mike:

And they, they're like, well, you know, how does, how will, you know,

Mike:

how does the Chinese internet work?

Mike:

And I, I said, can I get up and start drawing for you?

Mike:

And I started drawing like the internet and like explain how the great firewall

Mike:

works and it just like, hold on a second.

Mike:

How do you know so much about the Chinese internet?

Mike:

Like, are you a China guy?

Mike:

Are you been the China, like never been there.

Mike:

Can't speak it, can't read it.

Mike:

But I had the, I was the first person to measure it.

Mike:

So at comScore, we actually had built the first commercial product that

Mike:

measured all consumer activity in China.

Mike:

Wow.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Did the same thing for Russia.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So that capability was just a huge game changer of like giving us just a

Mike:

turbocharge effort at Strider because they, there was people on the team

Mike:

that not just didn't know the Lang.

Mike:

We knew the language, we knew the material, we knew the, how they

Mike:

were doing things, but we also knew how the technical matter worked.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So that was like a great, you know, I, I, I give, I give data tribe props for

Mike:

like organizing, getting us together.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

Because it truly was the dream teams for, from a startup.

Mike:

And did

Tim:

you think, uh, Mike Janky, you know, had had that in mind

Tim:

based on your com score experience?

Tim:

Or do you think it was more about the scaling of, of tech teams and thought

Tim:

that that might just be a really appealing connection point with them?

Mike:

I'm gonna give a little bit more props to Leo Scott and John Fung.

Mike:

So John Fung is now the managing director.

Mike:

Right?

Mike:

So John was the one who actually pulled me in, you know, was the one

Mike:

who specifically reached me out.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

reached out, pulled me into that conversation.

Mike:

Um, janky was definitely the closer, right?

Mike:

I mean, once he, once he had his, he, he saw what we were talking

Mike:

about and saw the chemistry between Greg and I, uh, and Eric.

Mike:

He was like, you, you need to do this.

Mike:

And he was, he was on me like white on rice.

Mike:

It was just slow.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Tim: So this is, uh, right around,

Mike:

It was fast.

Mike:

It was the end of March, 2019.

Mike:

Okay.

Mike:

At that first meeting.

Mike:

And we got wrapped up all the papers and got all, everything

Mike:

fully funded by May of 19.

Tim:

And so now we've got three co-founders, um, Greg, Eric, and yourself.

Tim:

Yep.

Tim:

And, um, You know, you, you've got some, some funding from Data Tribe

Tim:

and, uh, you know, talk me through the, you know, the, the, the last,

Tim:

you know, year, year and a half here.

Tim:

Um, obviously, you know, a pandemic hit so that, that shakes things up a little bit.

Tim:

Um, what was, um, you know, what were the, were those early

Tim:

stages like, uh, at Strider?

Mike:

Yeah, so one of the things I, I learned about startups or,

Mike:

or any kinda organization is unique capital to survive, right?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, but capital's not unlimited Capital comes with a price, right?

Mike:

Whether it's dilution or, or what have you, right?

Mike:

But it always comes with a price.

Mike:

So Eric, from his experience on the VC side, I totally get that.

Mike:

Greg, from a leadership perspective was a hundred percent on board, but

Mike:

it was like, listen, we can't build a product that's sustainable if

Mike:

it's just all analysts doing things.

Mike:

We have to have the tech to like make this a game changer.

Mike:

We all agreed as we were like figuring out like the, before we even got the

Mike:

funding set up, we set out a milestone driven approach of saying like, listen,

Mike:

this is how we will grow the organization.

Mike:

This is the order of when we'll bring folks on, right?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, because 2 million sounds like a lot of cash, but that goes really fast when you

Mike:

start a company where there's no revenue.

Mike:

. Tim: That's a thing we

Mike:

We could, we can bold that and uh, push that out to a lot of startups and let

Mike:

them know it'll save a lot of headaches.

Mike:

Line it really

Mike:

like, you realize you gotta figure out like path to

Mike:

like minimal viable product.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

really fast.

Mike:

control how fast you hire cuz that's your biggest source of cash burn.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

Cashburn is something you gotta watch like a hawk.

Mike:

Um.

Mike:

So those early days, we kind of let that out.

Mike:

We, we put that out, but it was like, wow, we gotta start with,

Mike:

we're starting with zero, right?

Mike:

We had, we had a ton of like, respective knowledge in our

Mike:

head, but we had no data, right?

Mike:

We had no, we had, we had hypothesis at how we were gonna capture like this

Mike:

type of information and figure this out.

Mike:

So it was a little bit like build a tunnel through a big mountain, right?

Mike:

Like, uh, they out do out in the Rockies, right?

Mike:

You start at one end, you start on the other and you have a good plan and you

Mike:

actually meet in the middle, right?

Mike:

Which is kind of cool.

Mike:

And that's where we did, it's like Eric was out working on, like, talking to, to

Mike:

CISOs and CIOs, like how, what kind of dashboard would be useful for you, right?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

product, how do you want the product to work?

Mike:

Greg was leading the dissection of, of the, how this apparatus worked

Mike:

from a nation state perspective.

Mike:

Myself and, and Yvonne were working on like, how do we capture all this data?

Mike:

How do we process this data?

Mike:

, um, to, to get things up and running.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. And uh, and that's where you're like, you get the big picture of like, yeah,

Mike:

you're gonna capture all this data.

Mike:

I was like, oh my gosh, it is all in Chinese.

Mike:

And I studied German, which is not very useful if you're

Mike:

looking at Chinese all day, um,

Mike:

But you, you then you just learn to adapt.

Mike:

You make it, you say, okay, let's go to, um, symbolics, right?

Mike:

Everything is symbolic and let's build it up from the beginning to be symbolic

Mike:

recognition and, and take that forward.

Mike:

So I think it was like, how do we, so, so the team gave us a latitude

Mike:

to like start building this out.

Mike:

Like a laid out a plan of like, this is how we capture, this is how

Mike:

we're gonna process, this is how we're gonna synthesize the data, to

Mike:

synthesize the data out of these pages, extract that data and organize it.

Mike:

Um, and it was a solid five, five months of just pounding on keyboard,

Mike:

cranking on stuff, doing stuff.

Mike:

And then Greg, Greg will say that he was like, then I knew the system would work.

Mike:

Like we actually were able to, like, I would able to run a query on a company and

Mike:

actually identify folks that have mm-hmm.

Mike:

. So we had started starting, let's start building the product.

Mike:

Right?

Mike:

Let's build out how we're doing that.

Mike:

Um, but enterprises, SAS is hard, right?

Mike:

The average sales cycle for enterprise SASS is what, 18 to 24 months?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

from time of first encounter, you know, 2 million again sounds like a large number.

Mike:

We'll put that in bold.

Mike:

18 to 24 months is a really long time to, to, to do a sale.

Tim:

They'll make you sweat when you look at your runway,

Mike:

makes you sweat.

Mike:

Uh, so that goes into January of 2020.

Mike:

Uh, we were pre-revenue, right?

Mike:

That's a sexy term of no revenue.

Mike:

But that's, you know, we like to call ourselves pre uh, . We started making,

Mike:

uh, went, went out to Sandhill Road, started making the pilgrimage, right?

Mike:

Talking to some folks and just like, well, we're a category creator.

Mike:

Well, what do you mean you're a category creator, this category?

Mike:

Well then if you're a category creator and you have no revenue, it doesn't mean

Mike:

that anybody's gonna buying anything.

Mike:

So why should we give you any money?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Um, so we're like, great, let's focus on revenue and we'll

Mike:

get something going there.

Mike:

And then March of 2020, the world changes, right?

Mike:

I, I still remember at that time, both my kids were in high school.

Mike:

I get the call six 30 in the morning.

Mike:

Loudoun County public schools are close today.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, it's March.

Mike:

There's no snow.

Mike:

What?

Mike:

There's not even a forecast of snow.

Mike:

You and I live in Loudon, so we can mm-hmm.

Mike:

Loudon County, how they close at the threat of snow.

Mike:

Yep.

Mike:

Um, and that's when we started hearing about Covid.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, that was pretty scary.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Starting like the beginning of this thing, like, uh, that weekend

Mike:

went in, pulled my computers back to the house to hunker down.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

No revenue burn, . All we had was burn, had some pretty nice burn, but they don't

Mike:

like that kind a hockey stick on the burn.

Mike:

Um, and then clients started signing up.

Mike:

So literally in that year, in March, we closed our first sale, and then

Mike:

next month we closed our next sale.

Mike:

Um, and we actually had four clients, but I thi by I think October, right?

Mike:

So we had proven that we were able to convert on a scale that was way

Mike:

faster than the normal 18 to 16 to 24 month enterprise SaaS perspective.

Mike:

So then that's when we did the a mm-hmm.

Mike:

. So yeah, a little bit there.

Mike:

Jump there.

Mike:

So that's

Tim:

a, that's a, um, A huge confidence boost, uh, you know, getting

Tim:

those, those first four customers.

Tim:

And, and this is, uh, this is, um, you may have touched on it

Tim:

already, but you know, your target customers are Fortune 500 companies.

Tim:

That Fortune two 50, fortune two 50, fortune two 50.

Tim:

Was that it from the start?

Tim:

Or did, did you just kinda land in that zone?

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

Um, and you know, something that, you know, we, you know, here at Hatch,

Tim:

you know, we, we, we, from a sales perspective, right, it's easiest when

Tim:

you, you have some, some blockbuster customer names that you can then kind

Tim:

of use as your case studies to, you know, present to new cus prospects and

Tim:

say, well, X, Y, Z is using it too.

Tim:

So, um, did you find that as a, like, uh, you know, from, from growth, right?

Tim:

Once you landed those four, did it kind of snowball or did you, did it

Tim:

take you a little bit of time to kind of like, how do we, how do we kind of

Tim:

package this story up of what Yeah.

Tim:

This company's how they used our products.

Tim:

A,

Mike:

a core belief we've had at Strider.

Mike:

From the beginning is that we wanted to have ultimate discretion, right?

Mike:

We would not say who our clients are.

Mike:

So if you go to our site, we do not list who our site or who our clients are.

Mike:

We have no logos up on our site.

Mike:

So, so yeah, that's a, that's a common approach in the, in

Mike:

the SaaS category to do that.

Mike:

But we actually chose an alternate path up.

Mike:

We weren't gonna disclose who our clients were.

Mike:

Now, now, thankfully, some of those would be agreed to be, you know, confidential

Mike:

references or if they got down a certain path or something like that.

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

We couldn't even use that.

Mike:

We, we decided to attack the problem slightly differently.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

And let's use data to, as an unfair advantage.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

So I mentioned this notion of how we have built up a large set of data today we

Mike:

now have like three and a half billion objects in our corpus of documents.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

You know, 700 million plus resumes on file.

Mike:

So we, we came up with a way to automatically figure out everything

Mike:

about a company without getting any information from a company.

Mike:

So we could enable the growth team, the sales folks, that they

Mike:

could only, they would not waste those ti that time on prospecting.

Mike:

If there's an issue, we would actually arm them with, you wanna talk to company

Mike:

A, company B, cuz they have issues.

Tim:

See, this is, uh, yeah, DA data is a very, very powerful thing when

Tim:

you're when you're working in this space, you're, um, you're able to

Tim:

have a pretty solid year in 2020 Or would you say like, uh, that was a

Tim:

good steamroll year going into 2021.

Tim:

20

Mike:

Going into 2020 was a, was a great way to, you know, close the a mm-hmm.

Mike:

have a, you know, nice, you know, set of clients that had already

Mike:

done it across a couple industries.

Mike:

And then 2021 was, was really the, you know, taking that initial success

Mike:

and building that foundation to start getting more penetration into individual.

Mike:

You know, sectors.

Mike:

Sure.

Tim:

Right.

Tim:

And, and, and you know, the, there was a, uh, a stat that I pulled up

Tim:

from a, a, a pressure lease that said, you know, increased annual and

Tim:

revenue by over 450% with a hundred percent customer attention rate.

Tim:

That, yeah, that second stat line is really important.

Tim:

That a hundred percent customer retention rate is really something to be proud of.

Tim:

It

Mike:

It is, is it is fantastic.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

I mean, uh, to date right?

Mike:

As of now, we still have a hundred percent customer retention.

Mike:

Wow.

Mike:

Which is, which is incredibly rare in a, in a space that is

Mike:

seed stage enterprise SaaS.

Mike:

But industry gold standard is like 90%.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Right.

Mike:

And if you're doing above that, it's even better.

Mike:

But when we can actually, I can go and say no one has true, everyone has.

Mike:

that tells you that, that the, what they're getting, it has

Tim:

value.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

It's validated.

Tim:

It's, it's truly, truly validating for you and your team to say

Tim:

that there's, there's value here.

Tim:

Correct.

Tim:

Um, and so let's, let's bring it into the, in, into the modern day here.

Tim:

So, you know, what you, what's the size of, of, uh, Schreder, you know,

Tim:

for perspective here in that, uh, March of 2020 timeframe, right.

Tim:

Broke headcount.

Tim:

You said there was, you know, you were pre, pre-revenue.

Tim:

What was the headcount and then, you know, going into 2021, what, what,

Tim:

what was that growth looking like?

Tim:

Yeah,

Mike:

so I think March of 2020, I think we maybe had eight people.

Mike:

Okay.

Mike:

In March of 2020.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

And where are we at today?

Mike:

Uh, today we're close to a.

Mike:

We're, I think 95, 98, somewhere in that range.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

We're, we're, we're, we're, we're pretty darn close to get hit in that, you know,

Mike:

century mark from a, from a staffing

Tim:

perspective.

Tim:

And so, you know, this is, um, do you, do you see parallels from

Tim:

your, you know, from your time at comScore in those early stages to,

Tim:

you know, to this wave of growth?

Tim:

Or is this, is this very, very different?

Mike:

So I will say that, um, we got, we, we hit the mark way earlier

Mike:

than we did at comScore, right?

Mike:

Uh, the first couple, like releases of data that we had at comScore were,

Mike:

did not have that product market fit that you're, you're looking for.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, we got really lucky, right?

Mike:

That we hit product market fit on our first go.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

And that's helped us drive and the go-to-market strategy, how we're

Mike:

able to use data to our advantage.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

A lot of those things we, we, we learned and adapted very quickly.

Mike:

Um, That now we have this like killer, like super tight

Mike:

timeline to close a deal, right?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, um, go in with actionable insight on the first encounter, right?

Mike:

Our, our goal in our motto is, is every encounter should provide new

Mike:

information to the client, right?

Mike:

We shouldn't be there repeating, you know, re repetition is good on certain things,

Mike:

but you always wanna provide new insights.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

And that model has, has helped us drive that great adoption from a customer

Mike:

perspective and keep our retention.

Tim:

And you guys recently landed about 45 million in a

Tim:

series B in April of this year.

Tim:

Um, I think I saw total funding was around 57 million.

Tim:

Something along those lines.

Tim:

You know, what is it?

Tim:

Um, you know, from a growth plan perspective, you know, what is

Tim:

top priority for you all right?

Tim:

Now, uh, moving forward to close down this year and moving into next year.

Mike:

So, I think a top priority is, is solid, um, encounters with clients, right?

Mike:

Let's not get ahead of our skis, right?

Mike:

The biggest, the, we, we've always done thing in a very measured, you know,

Mike:

aggressive but deliberate place, right?

Mike:

You don't want to go off a, a lot of companies when they do their

Mike:

b we'll go hire a hundred, you know, quota carrying reps, right?

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

And then all of a sudden you can't deliver on that data or you have customer

Mike:

service problems, and then you hit that stage where that ugly B to C stage

Mike:

where you have customer service issues or churn issues or things like that.

Mike:

Let's, let's engage and, and latch onto that hundred percent, you know, let's

Mike:

continue that mantra of how we got here.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

and provide that, you know, legendary customer service, right?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

of how we understand what the issue is.

Mike:

, um, do we have an aggressive plan?

Mike:

Sure.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

But we have an attainable plan.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

That's, that's the goal is like, one of the things I've learned in being,

Mike:

being on the management team of a publicly traded company where you're

Mike:

going to quarterly numbers, right?

Mike:

Where you have to get down to, like, you have to beat by a penny.

Mike:

Um, you don't, you wanna beat by a penny.

Mike:

You don't wanna miss by a penny.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

Cause the, the penalty is just immense.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Um, and, and I think we've taken that approach at Strider.

Mike:

Now granted, it's, it's a little bit, it's, it's a little bit more

Mike:

chill because we're not public.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

But we have the team to do it.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, we, we we're, we're driven on the, this mission right.

Mike:

To help protect the IP of, of our clients and move to, to gain a better advantage,

Mike:

leveraging data to our advantage.

Tim:

Yeah, it's, you know, so, you know, full transparency, we are, you know,

Tim:

a recruiting partner of, of Strater.

Tim:

You know, we are, um, o obviously looking at, um, you know, scaling

Tim:

up certain areas on the tech team.

Tim:

I want to, um, I want to quickly ask, and then we'll dive into some, uh, a,

Tim:

a segment called Five Second Scramble.

Tim:

Sure.

Tim:

We'll, we'll do a couple of rapid fire questions, but, um, paint for

Tim:

me the picture, the, the lay of the land, uh, at Strider, you know,

Tim:

you said nearing a hundred folks.

Tim:

Uh, what do, uh, what do the tech teams look like here?

Tim:

Um, and you know, I know that you, you've got a, uh, an office, um, out in, uh,

Tim:

Utah, and then you've got an office here, uh, and an office in London, I believe.

Tim:

Can you paint the picture for me of like how the, the

Tim:

technical teams are structured?

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

So there, there is no technical affinity for a location, right?

Mike:

So we have, you have a team that's, well, I call focus on collection

Mike:

team focused on extraction.

Mike:

Processing, big believer in development of internal tools.

Mike:

How do you make the team work better with the stuff you have?

Mike:

And then you have delivery and then you have like it right.

Mike:

As a standard support function from it and secure.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

That's the, the core pillars from the technology organization.

Mike:

But those, those folks are in all locations.

Tim:

Okay.

Tim:

And how big, uh, roughly is, are the size of the, the teams?

Mike:

So I, I'm a big believer.

Mike:

I, I do like the, the notion of like, you wanna keep your, your core teams

Mike:

to the what, what can feed, what two pizzas or whatever is a mm-hmm.

Mike:

is a good number, right?

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

A good, good simple heuristics.

Mike:

So at this stage, I think we have like five, oh, and I

Mike:

also have a data team, right?

Mike:

A data science team.

Mike:

Ok.

Mike:

Um, so most of the teams are around three to four right now.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Which is, we've got that good foundation of, of you.

Mike:

Leaders.

Mike:

Now we're building up that next set of leaders and bringing in

Mike:

talent to do that, to scale across all of those functions, right?

Mike:

So we have really a needs across all of those functions.

Mike:

That'll lead me

Tim:

into this next segment.

Tim:

We'll, we'll learn a little bit more about, uh, some of these

Tim:

different roles and, um, sure.

Tim:

A little bit more about, uh, the culture here.

Tim:

So yeah, this is gonna be a segment called Five Second Scramble.

Tim:

Uh, you'll have five seconds to kinda sum up your, your answers.

Tim:

And, uh, let's, let's dive, uh, let's dive right into it.

Tim:

So, um, explain your, your product to me as if I were, uh, a

Mike:

five-year-old.

Mike:

We help identify the people that, um, have been, um, coerced to

Mike:

take your, to steal your stuff.

Tim:

I got that.

Tim:

Um, what problems are you solving?

Tim:

Nation State ip.

Mike:

Who are your users?

Mike:

Uh, chief security officers, insider threat professionals.

Mike:

General counsels.

Mike:

What's

Tim:

your favorite aspect about working at Strider?

Mike:

There's always a cool problem to work on.

Mike:

What aspect

Tim:

of your culture do you most fear losing with growth?

Mike:

The team camaraderie.

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

. Right?

Mike:

Just, just those tight teams and knowing who does what, what about your work

Tim:

keeps you up at night?

Mike:

Hmm.

Mike:

Doing something crazy.

Mike:

. Tim: I was gonna say the type

Mike:

there's enough to scare yourself.

Mike:

A little bit of, of what, what happens out there?

Mike:

Um.

Mike:

What, um, what type of engineer would you say thrives at Strider?

Mike:

Adaptable.

Mike:

Very nice.

Mike:

And, uh, what's one of your favorite hobbies?

Mike:

Oh, I love to cook.

Mike:

I love to cook.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

You know, software development has taught me like, you can pound on a program

Mike:

program all day long, but yeah, go home.

Mike:

You make, you make some food, at least you have food on the

Mike:

table at the end of the day.

Mike:

Do

Tim:

you keep the, do you keep the recipes or do you make something new every time?

Mike:

Uh, I, I sometimes make something new.

Mike:

I, I love trying different stuff.

Mike:

I'll do some French, I'll do Indian, I'll do smoker brisket.

Mike:

I'm, I'm I'll, you know, not a fan of Thai, which my wife is not very happy

Mike:

with, but that's another issue together.

Tim:

When, when can I come over for dinner?

Mike:

next, smoke a brisket.

Mike:

I'll send you a note.

Mike:

That sounds like you don't very far apart,

Tim:

uh, favorite, favorite app on your phone?

Tim:

Um,

Mike:

Probably Cora.

Tim:

Okay.

Tim:

Do you have a favorite superhero?

Tim:

Batman.

Tim:

Classic.

Tim:

Good answer R The right answer.

Tim:

. Um, and you know, now we can, we, these don't have to be five seconds.

Tim:

We, I, I want to get, uh, a little bit more intel on some stuff, uh, at Strider.

Tim:

What, what's the core kind of like, uh, tech stack that you're,

Tim:

you're building with over there?

Mike:

Uh, from the data side, big elastic search shop, right?

Mike:

Elastic search is huge for what we do, uh, from a dev perspective,

Mike:

the backend or Python shop, right?

Mike:

The delivery site is not a python from a what customers see that's

Mike:

nude react standard, you know, responsive single page app type.

Tim:

And, you know, we talked a little bit about, you know, the growth.

Tim:

Um, you know, you're cer certainly hiring right now.

Tim:

Um, what would you say are some of those key roles right now that are really top of

Tim:

mind that would help round out your teams?

Tim:

What, what are some of those positions?

Tim:

You know,

Mike:

if you're a, uh, a mid, mid to senior engineer right, that knows

Mike:

Python or another language similar to Python or, or has skills in

Mike:

Java or, or c or things like that.

Mike:

We're, we're a great job, if you like, working with data and

Mike:

working on interesting problems that make a difference, um,

Mike:

to the western world, right?

Mike:

Mm-hmm.

Mike:

, give us, give us a look, right?

Mike:

Um, we're doing stuff that's interesting that no one else that

Mike:

I know of is actually doing outside of maybe some intelligence agencies.

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

Certainly, you know, looking for folks that are, are probably very

Tim:

passionate about the mission, right?

Tim:

I mean, this seems like you, you gotta be, you gotta be enthusiastic about

Tim:

mission, you gotta have a mission

Mike:

alignment.

Mike:

The mission alignment is huge.

Mike:

Yeah.

Tim:

And, um, What, you know, when you hired, would you say that you kind

Tim:

of hire for a, a general skill set, or do you, do you hire to fill like a

Tim:

specific need on a, a specific team?

Tim:

We,

Mike:

so I, I, I've been in tech a while, right.

Mike:

Technology's change, technology's evolve, right?

Mike:

I look for folks that can evolve, right?

Mike:

Like, that are adaptable much like what I said, adaptable, right?

Mike:

What, what the hot tool or technique is today will most likely be

Mike:

different in five years, right.

Mike:

I want someone to be along with that journey.

Mike:

Yeah.

Mike:

Right.

Mike:

Some of the biggest things that brought me joy from my time at comScore was being

Mike:

able to evolve team from the days of everything being in low level C to higher

Mike:

level languages like Java, and moving from building your own individual distributor

Mike:

framework to leveraging frameworks like right, or just massive things.

Mike:

That's what you wanna do from, if you're gonna build a good, strong

Mike:

culture is how they, you can grow the team and don't treat people asal.

Tim:

Sure.

Tim:

That's well said.

Tim:

Um, my, my last question, just in closing, you know, somebody who's, who's worked

Tim:

in, you know, five, five startups, um, you know, are there, is there a

Tim:

certain stage that, you know, you would say is, is the most exciting for you?

Tim:

Um, and, uh, what would that be?

Tim:

And, and you know, you've, you've seen, you've seen from, you

Tim:

know, the founding engineer to, you know, to i p o and beyond.

Tim:

Um, you know what, what, what, what are the stages that, that you think are

Tim:

really, really exciting as a entrepreneur?

Tim:

Yeah.

Tim:

So I

Mike:

company, you know, with a company growing as I like a kid, right.

Mike:

You know, there's the, like, is there a favorite stage, like when your baby's

Mike:

born to when they're like toddlers or you're taking 'em to like out doing

Mike:

like soccer practice to watch 'em go through high school graduation,

Mike:

travel hockey leagues, travel hockey.

Mike:

It's, it's, I kind of think it's like it's.

Mike:

There's, there's things of each different stage that I just really love, right?

Mike:

The very beginning of like, this really hard, like, how do we make this work?

Mike:

Can this actually do like that classic like, yeah, I believe

Mike:

we can make something work here.

Mike:

And you actually get to see that right after of hard work to how

Mike:

do you build up that org team?

Mike:

How do you build that org structure to grow efficiently?

Mike:

How do you scale from like one client to four to 10, to 20

Mike:

to 30 to those type of things?

Mike:

I, I dunno, I'm, I'm hard for me to choose a, a specific stage, right?

Mike:

But long as you're growing, long as you're building, it's all good to me.

Mike:

Yeah, that's,

Tim:

that's a good point.

Tim:

I mean, it's, it's tough.

Tim:

Like, uh, I like your reference of, of your kids, you know, it's like

Tim:

you, you're gonna have favorite times of different stages of their, their

Tim:

development and their life, right?

Tim:

Um, it's tough to pick just a small part, but as long as you kind of always work

Tim:

towards the big picture of, of growing it out, um, you know, it's, it's all part of,

Tim:

uh, what keeps you, keeps you motivated.

Tim:

So I, I'm really happy that we were able to connect Mike.

Tim:

Um, you know, we're, we're, we're excited to call you guys a partner and, um, you

Tim:

know, really excited for, for you all to continue to build and, and satisfy

Tim:

this, uh, you know, critical mission.

Tim:

Uh, so thanks for joining us on, uh, on the Hatchpad as well.

Mike:

Thanks for being a great partner.

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