May 13, 2015
When you think of a startup you probably imagine an old office building with lots of Ikea furniture. Maybe there are a bunch of early twenty-somethings eager to change the world, living off ramen, and anxiously awaiting the next opportunity to pitch their great idea to an investor. However, according to Alois Reitbauer, this image of the stereotypical startup doesn’t apply to his startup ruxit, where he serves as Chief Evangelist.
The team at ruxit works out of an established office, their management team is mostly in their forties, and most of them have never had to worry about pitching VCs. They also don’t live on ramen: they’re an experienced team that has already made their fortune.
“In many ways, we’re the exception to the rule. Still, in many important ways, we are very much a startup,” says Reitbauer.
So, what’s their story?
A little over two years ago ruxit reached a point where they had successfully covered most of the enterprise application monitoring market. They were extending their focus to small and mid-sized markets but soon discovered that there was a growing segment of companies that just wanted to ‘get their toes wet’ with monitoring, and they were addressing monitoring differently.
As these companies grew, their requirements did as well and forced them move to different solutions. Supporting this growth with a product was a tough challenge, but Reitbauer stepped up and decided to create a brand new product to address the needs of small to mid-size companies: it eventually grew up to become ruxit.
“We assigned a small group within our company to function as a standalone startup. Relying on lean startup methodologies we laid plans to attack the APM market with an entirely new product,” says Reitbauer. “We went all in building a product not for the current market, but for the market we anticipated we’d see three years in the future. We were guided by the famous Henry Ford quote, “If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have told me ‘faster horses.’” We didn’t want to build faster horses.”
In their first month of development they had around 40 engineers working in two locations. A few months after that they had over 100 engineers distributed across four global engineering centers as well as structures in place that enabled them to run ruxit as if it were a C series startup: they hadn’t even had their product launch yet. That is, their day to day operations were quirky in their own right.
Couldn’t they just have created a startup using the traditional approach? According to Reitbauer, it was absolutely never an option.
“We needed to grow quickly. Very quickly. Half a billion in revenue is not a goal you can reach taking the slow and steady path,” Reitbauer explains. “Secondly, we were entering a high tech market that already had a very strong player dominating the market. We had only two choices: start small and pick a niche market, or go big and build the broad technology support required to take on the big players, all in a ridiculously short timeframe. The first option didn’t suit our growth goals. So we went all in.”
Four months after the release of the first public version of ruxit, it begs the question though: was the strategy successful? It might still be too early to make a definitive conclusion, but the team firmly believes they made the right choice and that they’re on the right track.
Additionally, Reitbauer is adamant that ‘Hypergrowing’ their engineering team was also successful, albeit a huge risk. But the payoff has been pretty huge, as ruxit can now build out new technology support rapidly.
“We jumped three years ahead of where we’d otherwise be following a traditional growth path,” says Reitbauer.
To date ruxit has released a base artificial intelligence driven SaaS monitoring platform with customer experience monitoring as well as Java support, Node.js, and .NET support and synthetic monitoring beta are coming in late February. The future will, as the team says, bring with it PHP and Ruby support.
“We still think of ourselves as a startup, although in truth we don’t have a lot in common with most startups. In the end, it’s all about bringing entrepreneurial minds together and giving them the freedom to explore innovative approaches to scaling and growing a new business. It’s about thinking outside the box,” finishes Reitbauer.
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