Ep. #1109 - What Is An Enterprise Browser?
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, we’re looking into the inner workings of an enterprise browser. Here’s Matt Watson conversing about it with Mike Fey, CEO and co-founder of Island. Discover what an enterprise browser is, how critical listening is to customer data, and the benefits of getting funded.
But wait, there’s more! Mike’s company is also part of our Top Dallas Startup list in 2023. Check out more details here.
Covered In This Episode
Are you familiar with an enterprise browser? If not, then this episode is definitely a must-listen!
Matt and Mike discuss how an enterprise browser works and what Island can do for entrepreneurs. They also talk about listening to customers and using the data for actionable insights. Most importantly, hear their thoughts on how beneficial it is to be funded as you scale up.
Listen and learn from this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Mike’s journey as an entrepreneur (01:29)
- How did the Island come to be, and what is its purpose (02:17)
- On web browsers continuing to evolve and change (05:27)
- What did Mike do with the $285 million he raised? (07:53)
- The genesis of Island browser (10:52)
- VPNs, VDIs, and security for the Island browser (12:42)
- Enterprise and other use cases (15:40)
- What challenges did Mike face in building Island? (21:17)
- All about selling to SMB customers (25:08)
- The value of focusing and listening to customers (26:45)
- Benefits of getting funded (29:41)
- On hiring developers (30:43)
- How do you sell the Island browser? (34:00)
- Features and solutions that Island offers (36:20)
- Mike’s advice for other entrepreneurs (41:02)
Now, you go to the browser, and you just have what an advertising company gave you. So that shortage is really where the gap is. And that’s the opportunity to add value back into that operating system to give control back to that enterprise.– Mike Fey
The browser continues to change. They may invest millions of dollars in building this technology, and it works just fine. And then, all of a sudden, the browser changes, and it breaks.– Matt Watson
Think of the problem in its full spectrum. It’s not about a cool idea. It’s not about a selling effort. It’s not about a brand. It’s the whole thing coming together.– Mike Fey
Build a software development team quickly and affordably today! Full Scale has highly qualified developers, testers, and leaders to work on your project. And you’ll gain access to the platform, making it easy to manage your team even in a remote setup. Don’t miss out, and make it easier to recruit the right people now.
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt Watson 00:00
And we’re back for another episode of Startup Hustle. This is your host today, Matt Watson, excited to be joined today by Mike Fey. He is the CEO and co-founder of Island, a really cool enterprise, a browser that we’re going to talk about today. And before we get started, I do wanna remind everybody that today’s episode of the Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Mike, welcome to the show, man.
Mike Fey 00:32
Thank you. A pleasure to be here.
Matt Watson 00:33
So before we get started, can you tell me a little bit about your background? You’ve created this company, Island, which has raised a whole bunch of money over the last two or three years. I’m excited to learn all about that. But how did you get here?
Mike Fey 00:49
So I’m technical by trade, you know, I got a degree in engineering and physics. I went into software development, then I started working with a vendor on the pre-sale side or system engineering. I worked my way up, then switched over to McAfee where I entered into cybersecurity for the first time. I worked my way up there to be CTO and general manager of the enterprise business and then president of Blue Coat and president of Symantec along the way. But for about 20 years in cybersecurity, I have been based in the Dallas area for the bulk of that. It’s where I met my co-founder, who was in cybersecurity, and kind of how we came to get to this point, really.
Matt Watson 01:29
So then, what led you to start Island? And I guess, first, tell us a little bit about what it is that you guys do.
Mike Fey 01:37
So the most widely deployed application on the planet is the browser. And that makes sense. It services 5 billion consumers. But just like we don’t go to our local furniture store and buy a kitchen table and call it a boardroom table, when we bring that consumer browser into the enterprise, we have to do all sorts of horrible things to make it comply. To make it behave. To make it deliver the value we want. So we ended up treating it like a caged animal. And we saw the opportunity to build on top of the open-source project that’s powering all the major browsers now and build an enterprise-centric one. One that doesn’t integrate with content providers and advertisers but with the enterprise and its needs, giving them control that last mile. And when you do, you improve cybersecurity, you simplify your environment, and your actual ability to deliver for the business is much easier and much more cost-effective. And you can deliver major productivity gains to the end user. So that’s what an enterprise browser is. It’s just a browser that’s built on top of an open-source project that feels exactly like your Chrome or Edge browser but is rethought as to what the needs and demands of those enterprises or businesses are.
Matt Watson 02:52
So does that mean it still needs to run ActiveX and Adobe Flash?
Mike Fey 02:58
Interestingly enough, what it means is if you have to run those, you can choose when and how.
Matt Watson 03:06
So that’s the other thing that you guys have to actually support is that even you know,
Mike Fey 03:09
we do have to support old versions of IE, like seven through 11. And you feel for the companies you have to do that for because they built an internal application, let’s say, running a manufacturing plant or monitoring a heartbeat. Yeah, that app works.
Matt Watson 03:25
Yeah, it works. There was no reason to have to upgrade it. Somebody broke the browser.
Mike Fey 03:30
Exactly, till somebody broke the browser. So we give them the ability to stay on that old version. And just make sure it only runs while it’s working.
Matt Watson 03:41
Mike Fey 03:51
Yeah. And importantly, we’ll do that going forward. So these companies decide they upgrade when they need the functionality, not when an alternate company tells them it’s time.
Matt Watson 04:00
I joke about this because, you know, I’ve been doing this for I’ve been a software developer for over 20 years, myself. And so, you know, I lived through the days of IE six. I made ActiveX controls. I did all that shit. So you and I both actually, actually, one of the first jobs ever had to do with automating the web browser to build bots for Ticketmaster to buy tickets from. Ticketmaster would actually control the browser and make it like refresh and buy tickets and stuff. So I was doing browser automation over 20 years ago now.
Mike Fey 04:31
So it’s funny. My first vendor engagement was working with a company called Mercury Interactive, which built automated testing tools for that and load balancing tools. Yeah. And I remember one time I actually used some of those tools to get tickets first on something, you know, I just automated the refresh button. Wait.
Matt Watson 04:47
Yeah, there you go. Well, and so you highlight, one of the big problems for enterprises is the browser or the browsers are continuing to change. Such things as you know, there were companies that built a lot of stuff on flash. Ashenden flash died. It’s been several years now. But now we have, you know, other new standards and the browser continues to change. And yeah, they may invest millions of dollars building this technology, and it works just fine. And then, all of a sudden, the browser changes, and it breaks. And you can almost liken this to just the old green screen terminals, right? It’s like, the web browser is sort of like the green screen terminal of 20,30, 40, 50 years ago.
Mike Fey 05:26
Yeah, you know, I think it’s, you definitely can, but I would, I would propose a slight evolution on that. I think it’s more like the new operating system. Yeah, you know, cuz is our developer peers are writing to that they’re not writing to Windows or Mac, you know, they’re writing to that. So what I like to point out is think about all the amazing tools you have for that PC platform, or that Mac platform, or whatever you’re developing on. And now you go to the browser, and you just have what an advertising company gave you. Yeah, you know, and so that shortage is really where the gap is. And that’s the opportunity to add value back into that operating system to give control back to that enterprise. And it has massive use cases. I mean, if we don’t add 10 use cases a week in this company, it’s a surprise, like the customers bring us so many things we can do for them.
Matt Watson 06:18
So in modern browsers today across Safari, Chrome, and Firefox, those are all chromium browsers at this point, right?
Mike Fey 06:27
Pretty much everything you said, but so far, so far is the one standout. But you’ve got chrome edge opera brave. And the list goes on and on that chromium, a wonderful open-source project.
Matt Watson 06:38
So Safari is its own slightly different item.
Mike Fey 06:41
But obviously, you know, the Chromium open-source project was wonderful on the various Mac properties, but we did have to do a little bit of work to get it to run on an iPhone, which we do. Well,
Matt Watson 06:55
and so that’s some of your guys’ struggle. Is that when you slept? You guys use chromium for everything, but then you have to emulate the other ones? Is that how you do it?
Mike Fey 07:02
Yeah, we emulate chromium on an iPhone. You know, and it’s not really an emulation. We just use a different toolkit, but you’re gonna get the picture.
Matt Watson 07:13
Yeah, very cool. So, you know, you started this sounds like less than three years ago. Right? And you guys have raised $285 million? What in the hell do you do with $285 million?
Mike Fey 07:28
Well, you spend it carefully, and you protect it, for starters.
Matt Watson 07:33
And you don’t, and you don’t give it to not gonna say it.
Mike Fey 07:37
You make sure your customer.
Matt Watson 07:40
Mike Fey 07:43
You diversify across important bags. Okay. All right, fine. Yeah. I was down on that one. Um, you know, when we started the company, our first round was 20 million and seed. Okay, that was a large seed round. But that is what made it so. So if you were large and the need for it, we knew from the start we’d already validated the idea with around 100 Different CISOs and CIOs, that, you know when they heard it, they loved it. So we knew we had something. And we also knew we had it wasn’t one of these startups where we will build a proof of concept and show the world at work. We had to build a product that people would be willing to use. This doesn’t hide behind the scenes like you’re going to be on it every day, all day. So if your first exposure, that browser was anything less than wonderful, then your debt, so we had to find backers, which we found in Sequoia and cyber start, as well as others that wanted to, but we chose those two that saw the big picture and willing to invest to that picture. So like in development, when you’re a startup, nine times out of 10, you know that one of the co-founders is technical and hires five or six developers, and they go bang out, you know, the first attempt, we literally started hiring architects and vice presidents of development and the like, No, we were going to build a full product from the get-go. It wasn’t an attempt. It wasn’t a try. And so we needed that to build, essentially, you know, almost 100 developers now that are operating on this platform and building and expanding it. So that was the starting point for kind thinking large. The TAM that we are interacting with is hundreds of billions large, unlike, say, a normal Tam, that’s a couple billion. So when you had this, you had to dream big. And you had to find investors that saw the same thing you did. And then, from that point on, every round has been pre-emptive. Somebody showed up who’s seen what we’re doing is her talked about investing, talk to customers, and they want to be a part of it. So it’s allowed us to raise at a pretty high valuation of the last one was 1.3 billion. And when you do that, you know it’s not a lot of dilution to take a significant amount of funding. And we still have no, so that was just left. But, you know, we spend what it takes on R&D to get it there. And we’ve grown our Salesforce to a significant size now. And now we’re off creating a category at scale.
Matt Watson 10:12
So when you had the idea for this, you know, three years ago or so, there was no competition on the market, like nobody had built a browser like this.
Mike Fey 10:21
Yeah. So when my partner co-founder, Dan Amiga, thought of it first because he founded a company called Fire glass that did remote browser isolation. What does that mean? Imagine clicking on a dangerous link, and it runs on a computer far away. So you get his images back. That’s what he did. And that was a Chromium browser running afar. He started to realize that that browser had evolved and could be matured enough that the same capabilities could run on your desktop and not have to have the latency and expense of the distance. So we brought that idea. What if we change the way people do browsing and make it safer. And then as we, you know, started to discuss that with him and one of our founding team members, Brian Kenyon, we realize, wait for a second, this is so much bigger, we can automate things for end users, we can change the way it is delivered, we can give visibility and auditing and you know, security and all these wonderful things. So the idea of Vault quickly into kind of that, that full path. So it was a process with Dan and I and Brian, but also brilliant CIOs and CISOs, that expanded our own vision of what was possible. And so it was an iterative process for about a month. And then we went for our first bit of funding. And in two weeks, we had the various term sheets from it from a bunch of different wonderful, nice VCs. And then we started the company.
Matt Watson 11:40
Well, that’s the amazing part to me is you guys were able to so some of you guys, you had some background in this, even though it was kind of we’ll call it almost like a pivot from what he was doing before, right. And so obviously, that had to help you a lot when you went and met with Sequoia and these kinds of people. And obviously, your background and your pedigree like that it’s amazing, you’re able to raise that amount of money in a seed stage.
Mike Fey 12:02
It did. And like you said, you know, we were the first people to think about this and discuss it. We stayed in stealth a lot longer than most startups, because we felt we were on to something very unique. You know, there had been other ideas on how to make a more secure browser, other ideas about, you know, wrapping a browser and some different attempts like that. But we never saw anybody said, You know what, I’m going to make my own browser, I’m gonna make a browser that’s better and more capable. And, you know, that just seemed like something you couldn’t do. Like we had our browsers, the choices were Microsoft gear, Google and Mac, like, that’s just what you live with, and you go for it. But really understanding that chromium open source project and, and I got the motivation or the confidence to do that, because I worked on the Kubernetes, open source project. And I saw how much value other companies could derive, you know, building on those open source projects, that I realized no one had actually capitalized on the open source project to chromium and elevated it to, you know, additional outcomes. So while we weren’t unique, I would say other attempts have been made, but they were made with a singular focus. And unfortunately, if you want to get end users to use something, you have to court them. So we always say there’s three things we have to do, we have to make it a better, more secure environment that’s cost effective with a great ROI, we have to enable the business. So the CIO business users go, this is easier. We like this, I don’t have to do VDI anymore, I don’t have to do VPNs, and all this other stuff, we can deliver our product better. But then you gotta make the end user like it. So you got to improve their productivity, you got to make their lives easier. If you do that, then you have the opportunity to be a new browser.
Matt Watson 13:42
See? So this helps from like a VPN perspective to for like for remote work, and yeah, a big use case for us is that third party BYOD contractors, you name it, you bring up the browser, it can open up a direct connection to an internal application that accompany as well as of course SaaS applications.
Mike Fey 13:47
But most importantly, the browser’s aware of everything you’re entitled to and runs a set of policies based on the situation or on your guest computer. We don’t trust it, the network looks like it’s riddled with malware, okay, we’re gonna go read only or not at all. You’re on a work computer that’s inside that network. Okay, different profile, different capabilities. Now you’re in that kind of hesitant phase where you’re on your own device, maybe it’s an iPad, we don’t have full control, but it looks like it’s safe. What do we want to do then we might do everything but redact PII or PCI data, or the like. And so that flexibility is a big use case for us. We’re truly making it viable. And you know, BYOD has been kicked around a lot and it’s interesting. We look at the younger companies right now and I think it is the big wave of here’s your computer getting to work. At a better be simple. There’s nothing simpler than clicking on the link for a browser.
Matt Watson 15:00
Well, so is there any consumer play in this at all? Or is this only to businesses?
Mike Fey 15:05
You know, there’s definitely some consumer plays on kind of changing the way we think of browsers. But, you know, our mission is enterprise. And I think we want to stay focused on their needs. Google and Microsoft and crude do a phenomenal job of thinking of the consumer. We want to spend all day every day thinking about the enterprise, the business, you know, what do you need?
Matt Watson 15:30
So what are some of the other use cases? I love the VPN use case is another good one. I think you mentioned earlier I saw your website here virtual desktops, like so people that are using Citrix and stuff like yeah, Edi. So do you have a built-in VDI viewer, that’s also part of this. So it’s not really a web browser viewer, it’s also a VDI viewer.
Mike Fey 15:52
So an immense amount of VDI has been used to deliver a containerized workspace, it’s a, you’re a call center agent. And you work for a third party, and I want to give you access to my application, it may be web based. But in order to have control of the environment to destroy the data to guarantee you don’t take the data to guarantee access, I roll it out via Citrix and Amazon WorkSpaces as your desktop, that kind of thing. That’s the stuff we’re getting rid of, you don’t need to do that to have full control. So we’ve enabled entire call centers that are operating on who knows what machine, the company doesn’t have to worry about it, where that worker comes in double clicks on that company’s browser, because we make it their browser, it’s not an island browser, it’s your company’s browser, they click on that browser, they see all their entitlements, and they can share data between all of those. But if a company wishes, they can’t take data out. And if the company wants to restrict access, or change the way an application works, they have full control over that. So we can literally have an app that maybe presents to you all sorts of dangerous data. But then we redact that data, or we filter it or we remove your ability to cut and paste or screenshot it or the like. And then in that call center, we’ll go a step further. And we’ll start auto populating the data. So the call center worker that always has to ask you, you, okay, tell me your address. Again, we could do a web services call and fill that in form or do an API call and fill that in form. So we’re trying to help everybody in the stack. That presentation layer is so much more than a viewer. Now, as we mentioned before, it’s the operating system, so we can ask a lot of it down the creativity.
Matt Watson 17:29
So does that mean that developers can basically build kind of their own plugins that do that kind of stuff that run in it
Mike Fey 17:35
100%, we built robotic process automation into it. So if you wanted to write something to do all sorts of crazy stuff, and we’ve seen it, we have one company that’s putting a watermark with a QR code on every screen in case somebody pulls out their phone and takes a picture of it. And that QR code describes back to that company everything they wanted to know about that data theft. So if they find it out on the dark web, they will know what machine who did it, what they did it, what else they had access to was all hidden in that compressed QR code. We have another one that literally has modified the way an app works, because they had so many issues with people making mistakes in the app, there is an update button, and the Update button really means update all. And the update would cause a problem. It’s a travel company and literally started canceling travel plans. They modified how that button works. And that button really confirms with you, did you really mean to update all that? Did you say yes, it’ll come back with another message as this will impact 1000 travelers? Are you sure? So that’s wonderful things you can do. If you think about it, so many apps are packaged. If you’re a normal packaged company, you know, Amazon’s administrative console, Salesforce, these aren’t companies that are waiting for your advice on how to modify their app. But you can go in and do that and modify that for your business date.
Matt Watson 18:51
That’s a pretty clever idea, being able to sort of hack around and other people’s apps almost, yeah, change behaviors, exactly like browser extensions can do. But browser extensions themselves are also a major security issue. They are which they aren’t very, you don’t allow random extensions by default because of that.
Mike Fey 19:10
And so we don’t allow them by default, but the user can turn them on. But just importantly, they can turn them on and say what they’re going to do. This extension is for this application, and it should only access these things so they can ring fence when and how it runs. The real challenge with an extension right now is once I put it in my browser, it’s up to that extension’s behavior and what happens next. And you know, that’s fine for a consumer but that thing that’s recording your Call of Duty game might not be very good when you’re looking at patients X rays. And you know, when you draw the line and what should be used for him shouldn’t be used for now I can have control of that on your machine for my application, but control nothing else. So I let you use your device the way it should be used. Wait, it’s time to come to work. You click on your work browser. You finish your day there, you shut it down.
Matt Watson 19:59
I’ll but as somebody who has worked around it for a long time and had a lot of employees, I can see a lot of value and a lot of use cases for this. I do want to take a second to remind everybody that finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io. Or you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and see what developers are available to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. So what other kinds of challenges have you had, you know, building this company? So over the last three years, you guys had this great idea? What kind of challenges have you run into potentially?
Mike Fey 20:37
Yeah, you know, most startups think they’re creating a category, like everybody believes they’re doing something that’s never been done before. But in reality, most startups are a better mousetrap. There’s an existing budget and existing user community and existing administrator that does that job. And they can work and collaborate with on what does it take to do that job with our company? When we showed up as true category creation, we’ve got, you know, CIOs and Cisco and I love this, who owns it? Who’s going to run it? Like, What group do I put it in? And what budget do I find it out of creating a category is hard it is. And so we’ve had that category creation challenge that, you know, it’s a blessing and a curse, you want to create a category because you can lead the category, you can define it, which creates amazing upside. But you have to put in a lot of groundwork to get it, you know, built right? We were very fortunate that the natural progression of this product is a huge ROI. And so that creates the big that solves the biggest problem, which is where do I get my funding from? Well, we’ll save you money, you can decommission that Citrix environment, you don’t have to do that web filtering, you don’t need that VPN anymore. Your whatever it is. And so that can fund it, that it’s who’s going to do it. And that debate is still raging. We see security teams do it, we see CIOs do it work or a bunch of people. Yeah, and, you know, we like to think will make their lives better in the long run. But yeah, that’s short term, there’s new work. So category creation is one of the biggest challenges we’ve been very fortunate hiring has been, you know, we have, we have a big deep bench of people that we’ve worked with over the years. So hiring has been a lot of it’s been, you know, I want to say easy, but we’ve been able to get great people from our network without spending a lot of energy, trying to find them. But that comes from, you know, probably working with 40,000 people in cybersecurity, right. So, you know, you would hope you can find 100 That you really believe in over time, we’ll have to, you know, get a little bit harder. But, that category creation is definitely the biggest challenge. And, you know, we found that the string COVID. And, you know, it created a different company, we look at the world differently, you know, we may have 10 people in the office here, but we don’t do a team meeting in the, in the boardroom, we we all go on Zoom be three people that are here, you know, so I think we don’t even realize all the challenges. When we started selling them and sold them for a year, the economy was changing. So I get asked a lot, you know, what’s it like selling the economy? This is all we know, it’s, we’ve only sold into it, right? You know, it’s a new category.
Matt Watson 23:07
I mean, yeah, no metrics to really compare. Yeah, so we, you know, we like it.
Mike Fey 23:11
I look forward to Sunday, when somebody says it’s easy, but it works.
Matt Watson 23:17
Well, I’m against you most of your customers are going to be like the Fortune 500, big Fortune 5000 or whatever, right? Like, you’re really focused on these super, super large enterprise accounts, we are engaged about half of Fortune 100.
Mike Fey 23:27
So we’re very proud of that. But we have 300 people, 500 People big. It’s really a different buyer at the large end of town, they have things have been grappling with, you know, third party access, when companies shipping 40,000 laptops a year, how do we get out of that, you know, to contractors, it takes me three months to get a contractor stood up, you know, okay, I can do it in an hour. Like, they’ve got real problems that they can articulate, and you go, and you do a proof of concept against those, the smaller companies are kinda like that landline to five G Jong, where I don’t have any of this stuff, you’re gonna cross off a lot of lists for me, you’re gonna give me my DLP, my web, filtering my compliance and all that stuff. So those companies’ proof of concept is a little different. They’re more of an exploration. Let me click every button and see what you can do. I believe this concept is as valuable midmarket and down as it is up, but our muscle memory is how to sell to the bigger companies and how to do that.
Matt Watson 24:28
So that’s where we started. So for these SMB customers mid March a lot and a lot of mid market customers, would you say you’re almost like a new form of like security and a box for them? It’s like, Hey, your users spend 99% of the time in the web browser. Yeah, if you just use our web browser, it’s secure is like 99% of your problem that comes up in 100%.
Mike Fey 24:48
You know, a young company that day, tells somebody to go out and buy your laptop, we’ll reimburse you or we order it for you. But after that they’re done using a web browser, install slack or whatever. arena. So here’s your login to Ireland. And when they get in there, they’ll see all their entitlements and they’re often rocking. You know, they’re using G Suite, they’re using, you know, online office 365. They’re, they’re, you know, hitting figma. They’re hitting, you know, all these web based properties. So in that scenario, we literally are that in a box. And what people like about it is this sort of same users that are as likely to be on their tablet, as they are home computers, they are there a lot of work laptops, and so we just follow them through that journey.
Matt Watson 25:28
So as part of the challenge also been focused, as far as like, all these different use cases, different kinds of customers, you know, talk about virtual desktop versus, you know, VPN and web filtering, and plugins, like a lot of different things here, right over the last couple years.
Mike Fey 25:46
I mean, that part of the challenge, as well as, trying to try and stay focused on all it is you can try to boil the ocean so fast, because there’s so many opportunities, and we, we finally built a bit of a methodology to keep us right.
Matt Watson 25:55
Especially you have the funding to like even funding, yeah, we put forward, we could get naughty, you make too many bets, and none of them pays off, because you didn’t focus on one bet enough
Mike Fey 26:05
100%. So you have to develop a really good listening system to the customers, right, because that’s what focus gives you as you, you care about a couple of things, and you listen, and you hear the response, and you make too many bets, it’s noise, you get distracted. So we did that. So we really focused on last mile control, and making sure that that was our that, that’s the Legos we built with. So I’m gonna build you the best Legos possible, we do the most last mile control, I can do give you control of everything in that and make it with dexterity, then if you decide to build a spaceship, or a pyramid, or whatever it is, it’s not distracting to me because I focused on the Legos, not the not putting it together. So that was the other one. And then when we thought about what Legos we will build, which we call modules, where do we have architectural superiority, compared to what’s done today. So not, you know, give you an example of performance management’s a great one. It is very easy if you’re in the browser to tell how long something takes outside the companies that are inserting code and doing all this crazy stuff to try to get round trip times. Meanwhile, we’re sitting there with, you know, a little stopwatch going yep, that’s how long it took. And here’s everything we know. So we would build that part of the module. But what we want to do is try to build all the diagnostics of why we just pass that information back to the companies that do that, right?
Matt Watson 27:26
So that’s what my last company did, by the way, was real user monitoring, observability, server performance tracking, all that kind of stuff. So exactly.
Mike Fey 27:33
And you probably found over time, the real value wasn’t just seeing it, it was the correlation that occurred and why the data? Yeah, so we just get the data from those vendors, and let them be great at what they are. So that’s kind of kept us focused, is what do we have an architectural advantage to do, and focus on that and deliver that with an amazing outcome. Now, we have landed some very, very large companies, hundreds of 1000s of users, who bring with them their own set of requirements and teachings daily. And that helps keep us grounded, because what’s in the way of their success? And when we over party talk about this large funding, we invest heavily to make sure they don’t even whisper without us hearing what it is. We want to know everything in the way of their success.
Matt Watson 28:20
Well, and that’s got to be part of the challenge is they also don’t even know what to do with it, right? It’s a new toy that they have. And it’s like they got a Ferrari, but they don’t know how to drive a car, right? And they’re like, What do I do with this thing? But then they come back and they ask you like, does it have Bluetooth? And you’re like, it’s a Ferrari? Of course it hasn’t.
Mike Fey 28:39
You know, it’s so true. But what often is more the case they bring up, you know, if you just added this one feature, I could do all of this. Yeah, like, Oh, you’re right, we probably need that feature.
Matt Watson 28:51
Which is great for you, as long as you’re like, Well, are you gonna buy like another 1000 licenses? But if you need it for like Milton in the basement for the No.
Mike Fey 29:01
You know, it’s, I will tell you, that is the benefit of the funding, we have it, you know, we just have to believe that it is universal, even if the paycheck isn’t there at the moment. So we’re constantly growing engineering, and this the first time in my career, because I’ve always worked at large companies that have a bit of an Innovator’s Dilemma, that, you know, you’ll be six months a year out, and you’re in your development stack, you know, so it’s all about prioritization. What can I do if I agree to this, or bring on 10 engineers a month or more, so we’re like, Okay, the next engineer shows up to work on this one. And, you know, in the fact that the Chromium open source project itself, is a very easily modular project to work on. We took our name Island, and we actually in our D created islands, small workgroups that can take on entire feature stacks independently. So we’re always rolling out features and these guys can evolve very quickly. That allows us to listen to Hustlers usually most customer requests get back to him in under two weeks.
Matt Watson 30:03
Wow. That’s very quick. Very. So how has hiring developers been? Kind of? This has been a great time for you probably over the last three to six months, hiring developers with all the layoffs and all the stuff I’ve been told to pick up a lot of great talent, I would imagine.
Mike Fey 30:20
Yeah, so our development is based on my co-founder and Tel Aviv. And the Tel Aviv market was incredibly hot, you know, a year or two ago, right? There’s just seemed like a new startup, every minute was occurring. We still were probably able to get a disproportionate share of great developers because what we’re doing, you know, you, you think about your developer, you know, you and I have been there. There’s lots of stuff you can work on. When somebody pitches you this really technical idea that’s, you know, in the bowels of it, you know, like, Okay, that sounds like fun. Then if somebody says, Hey, you want to build the next browser, right? Yeah. Oh, that sounds like fun. Yep. And so we’ve been able to kind of probably out-punch our weight class on that, as well, as I think we heard some really good leaders that can recruit. But, you know, for me, it’s the same thing we do with sales reps, you know, we, we did something I would have never done in my past, most sales reps, when we’re recording them, we say, you know, if we know, we want to raise one customer sit in on it, have one of your friends come to a meeting. And we let them sit on that demo that pitch. And when they see that customer light up, they’re ready, because they know what it takes to push down a wall and they haven’t seen a customer get excited in a long time. You know, it’s probably I keep saying it’s going to backfire. Someday we’re going to lose some great candidates because we run into a grumpy customer. But knock on wood today, it’s always worked out for us, it always helps seal the deal of that person joining. It’s similar with the developers, we show him a demo and like who do I get to own that feature set and I can see what I’m doing that day after I code it. It’s an interesting path. But, you know, we also, you know, they have to know we’re successful, that we’re well run and that there’s a future. So I think that’s where, you know, maybe Dan and I being a little older than most startup founders helps is, you know, this isn’t our first rodeo, we know how to bring a product to market. And one of the things we heard from the best developers is how frustrated they were. They thought they built a great product, but the go to market never matched it. Yeah, yep. And so we were very fortunate, we had a very strong market. So they see that and it helps convince them, this is a place where they should apply their talent.
Matt Watson 32:24
So your whole engineering team is in Israel.
Mike Fey 32:27
It is all in a beautiful office complex right by the beach, overlooking the ocean. It’s uh, every time I’m there, I think I want to stay. You know, we’ve got a surfboard rack in the office.
Matt Watson 32:37
You know, reminds me to go into the Philippines to see our team there.
Mike Fey 32:41
Yeah, every time I see it, I’m like, wow, you live a better life. I’m staring at a parking garage. They’re staring at the ocean, you know, what’s going on here?
Matt Watson 32:48
So how did you talk about the go to market strategy? And that’s a topic that we talked about on the podcast a lot. Peter gets so focused on a product, I never did ever spend enough time focusing on validating a product, taking it to market, how to sell it, you know, developing channels and all that stuff. So how do you guys sell this? Is it? Is it picking up the phone? Is it going to trade shows? Like how do you sell to these big companies and it because I spent 10 years trying to sell to it? And it’s a terrible thing to do. So I’m curious, I’m curious, what’s the trick you figured out selling?
Mike Fey 33:20
That’s not for the faint of heart, as you mentioned, you know, you don’t just call up and they let you come in? I don’t answer. They don’t have phones, by the way. Yeah, you know, certainly not once the answer, at least not not for vendors. We have a traditional sales model, you know, you’ve got your rep, they get a patch, they start to chase that patch. The big difference, though, of selling what we’re doing in the space we’re in, is unlike a CIO whose fundamental job is efficiency and enablement, right? And if it’s working, and they can make it more efficient, they’re happy. A CISOs job is to beat the bad guy. And the innovation at the source of the bad guy is a mess. So when the innovation is that high, they’re compelled to stay on top of the industry. So CISOs naturally are willing to listen to startups and new ideas because they have to, because they know their adversary is on the cutting edge and they have to be as well. So cybersecurity and startups have always had a nice interplay. So we often start at that layer, and then that layer introduces us to the business when they see value and say this is something you should look at. So as a result, you know, we’ve been able to build up, you know, hundreds of millions in pipe since we started with two reps at the beginning of the year, and now we’ve got 20 and we’re going to bring on another significant set. And, you know, for a first year category creator, it’s a little unheard of to grow that fast, but the business is there and we can get the introductions. We do trade shows, we do events, but we really want to target that sea level. Because when you’re talking about swapping out brown users when you talk about upgrading that end user experience, that’s not an individual buried in the organization’s function, right? That’s a strategic decision. So you need to start there. And if obviously, if that executive can’t get passion, then you have nothing. And so we always try to start there, which creates a little bit of an even more challenge, you know that the adage of you know, you have to call Hi, well, yeah, we have to call the strategic thinker in the company. There’s usually four or five of them, and you get to talk to each one.
Matt Watson 35:32
So what are some of the other features and you know, solutions that people use your product for?
Mike Fey 35:40
So m&a is an interesting one. We just bought this company and we want to get them on our email, we want to get them on workday. We want to get them all this stuff, how do we bring them in, we’re able to bring up that time from, in many cases, years of kind of language to right away. So we see that there’s a wonderful use case, we call say, yes. And it could be anything but say yes, is the item. Imagine working in a large company, and you want to be innovative, we want to be on WeChat, we want to use Zoom not teams, we want to use this, whatever it is, we can wrapper that and make that bulletproof. So we can if you add the auditing functionality, you know, we’ve got some firms that don’t have a LinkedIn because they can’t record the messaging, you know, in their regulatory bound, record all messaging. So we can let them use the latest and greatest and literally record behind the scenes of that. We have other companies that had such a restrictive environment for their corporate IP, you know, chemical companies, for instance, that it really was in the way of doing their job. And now we can open that up. So there’s IP protection as well. And we have clean rooms for lawyers. We find ourselves being very active in healthcare. You know, doctors, you know, it’s interesting, you know, I didn’t fully understand this in Ireland, almost every doctor you deal with in a hospital is a contractor. So think about that patient confidentiality is owned by the hospital, but every major employee is a contractor. You don’t own their device, you can’t tell them what to do. You know, how do you deliver that wonderful, you know, life saving information that evolved in Teledyne.
Matt Watson 37:15
The doctors don’t want to deal with any of this technology bullshit.
Mike Fey 37:20
But none of it and if you make them deal too much to work with another hospital.
Matt Watson 37:23
Please enter personal patient data in seven different systems.
Mike Fey 37:28
Yeah, then for that matter, wait, you, I can’t send an x-ray to my friend to tell them what they think about it. Because you’re gonna tell me it’s, you know, it’s not healthy? Well, it’s not healthy to get this wrong, either.
Matt Watson 37:39
So, you know, we’re not going to send their name. So nobody will ever know Who the hell’s X-ray. It was anyway.
Mike Fey 37:42
Exactly. So we, you know, we also got into the TelaDoc world, you know, we got, that was fun. And what was so cool about that is, you had these brilliant startups where they were taking, you know, doctors and matching with patients. And the expense they were going to have to incur just to make that confidential, just to have control over both ends of that conversation was ridiculous, and also in a browser doesn’t form. And those have been deals that were very fast, because they realized it’s a fundamental change to their business. So that, and then, you know, BYOD is just a massive opportunity.
Matt Watson 38:19
Yeah, just so big, and thanks to the remote it is definitely even more of the standard even more.
Mike Fey 38:23
And you know, that is what the definition of BYOD is, you know, it used to be big man, I could get my email right, and I can work, work or my email. But now you’re talking about their full stack. And everything that company holds near and dear has to be deliverable over that platform, really tricky. So it created a wonderful opportunity to rethink how that works. And then BYOD evolved yet a step further at the most progressive companies where they’re thinking about their world is almost layers. They’re saying, Why do I want my average knowledge worker inside the network of my important data? If you don’t need to be in my network, don’t be here, go direct. If you can spend all day on Salesforce, and that’s your job, great. Don’t even come on my pipes. I don’t want your wrist challenges or expense on my environment. So BYOD went from enabling on a cool device to an alternate way to if you will segment your company and sourcing really aggressive security-conscious companies, embracing BYOD designs as a future security paradigm.
Matt Watson 39:28
Very cool. Well, if you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. We have the people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts when you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and let our platform match you up to our team of fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers at Full Scale. We specialize in building a long-term team that works only for you to learn more when you visit FullScale.io Well, Mike, this has been an awesome conversation, and I think he’s incredible. You know, your background, your co-founders’ experience with the problem, you know, you guys getting together and being able to raise a ton of money and go build a new category and a cool new product and all this. It’s a super cool story, and kudos to you guys. Absolutely love it.
Mike Fey 40:13
Well, thank you so much for having us on. We’d love to hear your story.
Matt Watson 40:16
Are there any other final tips you have out there for other entrepreneurs that are listening?
Mike Fey 40:22
You know, I would say that the biggest tip I can give people is to just think of the problem in its full spectrum. It’s not about a cool idea. It’s not about a selling effort. It’s not about a brand. It’s the whole thing coming together. And innovation we found happened at the product, it happened in the go to market, it happened in the branding. All of those were opportunities to innovate, but the way things were done, especially pre-COVID, is not as relevant as you think they are. So your previous decisions, you know, you’ve seen lately, even where we store our money and how we manage our cash and how we go after our leads, it’s all different. So you know, be prepared to innovate on all of it. When I first started, you know, I assumed there was a way to do this. And we’ve since learned to just rethink it all. It’s all available. Learn from the past, but, you know, be ready to innovate on all sides of your company. It’ll pay back.
Matt Watson 41:21
Well, awesome. Thank you, sir. And again, this was Mike Fey, and that’s F-e-y. And their website, their company’s name is Island, and you can check him out. It’s island.io and a very cool product, and I love you guys are solving real-world problems, especially in enterprises, and security is a big, big deal. So thank you so much.
Mike Fey 41:42
Thank you, sir.