BitTitan CEO on His Bootstrapping Past and Cloud Services’ Future

November 15, 2016

2:20 pm

Since BitTitan’s inception, Geeman Yip has served as the cloud enablement provider’s spine. As CEO, he strategizes, manages, and powers the tech behind the company. And it’s working: They closed their first funding round last June, landing $15 million from San Diego-based growth equity firm TVC Capital.

Since BitTitan is based out of Kirkland, WA, it’s no wonder that Geeman wound up at the Seattle Startup Week, an event taking place up and down the seagull-packed 2nd Street at the heart of Seattle. I caught up with Geeman to ask him a few questions about his grueling bootstrapping past and the future of his industry, cloud services.

You bootstrapped BitTitan from your basement. How was the experience?

“The beginning was, in a word…rough. Everything – my time, relationships, health, savings – went into building BitTitan. When you work constantly trying to create something for four-odd years, use debt to cover debt, and only see money go out the door, never to come back in, it can be brutal. It was brutal.

When I made that first dollar on my first sale, it was one of the highest points in my life. I hadn’t seen money in years. I was broke, had maxed out my credit cards, taken a second mortgage on my house, so that sale was a major, major high point.”

What were the biggest challenges in building your company?

“I bootstrapped BitTitan for nine years. Every dime I had went into growing the company. When you are putting 100% of the profits back into making it better, it begins to feel like a house of cards. It’s especially hard as the CEO of a tech startup because your instinct is to save all profits, but if you save, then you don’t grow. You need to double down and reinvest your money to build. You need to financially engineer a company. It’s one thing to spend 10% overage when dealing with thousands; it’s a completely different thing to spend 10% overage when you’re dealing with millions. We were a growing bootstrapped company, and the bigger the company, the bigger the expenses. This, of course, meant the bigger the house of cards.”

What’s the next step in BitTitan’s future?

“Other than conquering the world? Our future is about enabling the cloud, and we won’t be satisfied until we’ve got the entire world on it.”

What future trends do you anticipate in cloud security?

“In the future, all companies will be in the cloud and use dozens of cloud services. This poses security challenges because identity management is fragmented across these cloud services, and there is more surface area for hackers to penetrate. In the cloud, everything is public and as such, can be mimicked. So, what’s real? What’s fake? Phishing attacks will increase.

Nonetheless, the cloud is already more secure than on-premises because the people running the cloud understand Infrastructure-as- a-Service (IaaS) and know how to run IaaS, in addition to the application itself. Also, the cloud has two factor authentication (2FA) making it more secure during times of fragmentation.

New threats and challenges will always arise, but technology to address those challenges will always be evolving and advancing accordingly.”

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of your career, what would it be?

“I don’t think I would change anything, but if I had to, I’d probably tell myself to start a company earlier. That, and to suck it up. Founding a company is not for the faint of heart. Deal with the crap and learn from it.

I’ve learned more in the past six years than I have in my entire life. It’s not that bad. At the end of the day, I am where I am because of where I’ve been.”

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This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe.CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at Chase.com/forbusiness. Read the rest of our Startup Week series here.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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