“Products don’t build companies. People do.” From the humble roots of Chandigarh, India to the center of the spotlight in Silicon Valley, Datos IO CEO Tarun Thakur’s story is nothing short of inspiring.
Dreams are not aberrations. They are meant to be lived, and Tarun is a product of grit, passion, and innovation. He anticipated a foreseeable growing market of applications originating in the cloud, created a solution to the problem of backup and recovery of data stored in the cloud, and now is leading the show for one of the hottest, market-changing startups in the Bay Area.
In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Tarun shares the “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”:
- There is No Recipe: every startup is unique and there is no recipe. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by my co-founder, friends and advisors always willing to give me guidance, but there is no single recipe. You have to create the recipe from “within”, find the ingredients and then bake the cake. My recipe — push people with stretch goals, make mistakes, learn quickly, believe in yourself, stay humble, stay grounded, surround with positivity.
- It’s Not Just About The Products and Technology: as a product person at heart, my naive approach was ‘if we build a great product, people will buy it’. Don’t make that mistake. From the beginning, you need to think about all the pieces of the puzzle — technology, sales, marketing, support, channels, alliances, culture. I have developed a great respect for all of these disciplines as I’ve fully realized the critical role they play in our success.
- Try Frequently, Fail Quickly – don’t wait, try! It doesn’t mean ready → fire → aim but if you think you have a great idea, do it! Then measure it. If it succeeds, double down. If not, move on…quickly. Early on we thought our best route to market was through the open source community, so we went all in. We failed. We quickly realized they have limited to zero propensity to buy. We quickly changed our focus to enterprise buyers and have not looked back since. We could have spent years and millions of dollars trying to prove we were ‘right’ which would have been a waste of time. Try Frequently, Fail Quickly.
- Don’t Hire a Brand: you have to hire true believers in the journey and people you are confident have the required hunger and commitment. Early on, I hired a hot shot from a top brand Silicon Valley company, but it was a disaster. While the employee looked awesome on paper, he was not hungry and did not share our passion for building a company. I’ll take hunger and ambition and humility and intellectual capacity over resume and brand every time and every day.
- Reinvent Yourself: as a first time CEO, I felt my job was to have all the answers but instead I realized you must be constantly listening, learning, and reinventing yourself. It makes you feel very exposed but the company evolves so quickly you have to be ready to reinvent at a moment’s notice. This does NOT mean compromising your values or integrity, but it does mean learning constantly and reinventing as you go. My background is rooted as an engineer and then as a product manager but my reinventions have included Product Manager → Technologist → Sales Guy → Channel Guy → Partner Guy → Recruiting Machine → Marketeer → General Manager → HR Rep → Cheerleader → Leader → CEO. Don’t fight it, embrace it, it’s all part of the journey. Only then can you be an effective CEO.
Check out the full video here.