Pinpointing technical glitches before they occur is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. But Kirkland-based Lacuna Systems — led by former employees of Amazon.com, Classmates.com and aQuantive — believes that its new Indico platform can save IT managers time and money by locating problems before they arise.
It does this by intelligently analyzing traffic patterns, gathering data from load balancers already in use on a company’s network. That means IT staff can get a handle on problem areas before they escalate into full-on Web site outages.
We caught up with co-founder Derek Andree, a former software engineer at T-Mobile, Amazon.com and Classmates.com, for this installment of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We offer a performance management solution that acts as an early warning system for critical web applications. We study the past to predict the future and alert IT managers of a problem before a corporate website goes down.”
Inspiration hit us when: “In our previous lives as web operations managers ourselves, we recognized a lack of insight into web application performance at the application delivery controller or load balancer level. So, we wrote custom tools for mining this rich data to increase uptime of web applications. It became clear to us there was a need for this type of solution, so we continued development and we’re seeing interest from a range of customers. Today, Indico profiles and monitors any web application and is a turn-key solution that deploys within minutes of configuration.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We are bootstrapped with founders’ financing so far. At this stage, we wanted to be in control of our own destiny rather than answering to a board or investors. So, today, we own our entire company. At some point we may consider VC funding, but right now we are focused on product development and growing our customer base.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “We apply sophisticated predictive analytics to the application delivery process and our approach allows web operations managers to be up and running within 15 minutes of configuration without the need for any further maintenance.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “We knew we had to get the technology right from the start. We have significant operations experience and have seen the mess new technologies can create in the spirit of getting things done too quickly. In essence, temporary duct tape solutions can create permanent duct tape problems that need to be corrected later. From day one, we considered the future with all of our development decisions, so that we are not adding a “technology debt” which will come back to bite us.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “In the early days, we may have spent too much time chasing investment partners when that time would have been better spent focusing on our customers and our product.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos. Jeff is the master of driving a customer-centric culture at Amazon. Like Bezos, we believe that without the customer, you have no business. From my time at Amazon, I learned that every technology and business decision should be made with a single question top of mind: “How does this result a better customer experience?” I took this lesson to heart and would love to have Bezos in our corner. In an indirect way, I think he already is.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “World domination begins when more customers realize the competitive advantage they gain by using Indico products. Lacuna is Latin for ‘the gap’ and our products are designed to bridge the gap from the raw performance data to actionable insights for decision makers responsible for web application performance. Once customers see the value of using predictive analytics to identify application and network problems areas before they become a crisis, they can’t live without the assurance we provide.”
Rivals should fear us because: “The bottom line is our solution is less expensive. Our approach means IT managers do not need to a make any changes to their existing infrastructure to implement a leading application performance solution. This is radically different and much more cost effective than other products on the market. In addition, our solution does not require a dedicated team of experts to stay relevant.”
We are truly unique because: “We offer the only APM solution that can be implemented in minutes. Indico is also the only solution that does not require constant attention to remain relevant when new applications come online because it detects new applications automatically and builds an updated performance profile. Only Indico monitors application performance by looking at the Application Delivery Controller that is the gateway for all web traffic.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Learning how to store and mine large amounts of data pertaining to application performance – from a technical perspective – to generate actionable insights from our predictive analytics engine. We tried many different models and continued to redesign and tweak until we got it just right.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Drive revenue from the start. With revenue built in to your business from the beginning, you have a much better chance of avoiding the need for angel or VC funding and you can control your own destiny.”