Learn how this startup executive became a startup founder

Today I’m please to welcome my former VMware colleague Izzy Azeri to startupcareeradvice.com. In this guest post he shares the story of how he cofounded cloud computing startup Stackdriver and gives some advice for aspiring startup business development professionals.Stackdriver Logo

What made you make the leap from startup executive to founder? What was your thought process as you evaluated the decision?

Throughout my career, I’ve always moved from larger company to smaller company, with the expectation that I wanted to be at a startup long term.

That trend continued for about 15 years when I finally decided to take the plunge in early 2012 and started to look at Series A stage companies along with Bain Capital Ventures as an Entrepreneur in Residence.

As I began my evaluation, what I quickly realized was the probability of finding the right company – within the right industry, within the Boston area, with a need for a person with my skills – was a low probability.

Therefore, in parallel with my search, I began to work with a friend who I’d known for 6 years, in researching the public cloud market.  What we discovered through our research was an underserved market need for cloud native management tools.

Evaluating both the Series A company opportunity as well as founding something from the ground up wasn’t easy, so I personally used a qual-model to help in my decision making from a risk/reward/personal satisfaction perspective.

Based on the market research, a great working relationship with my co-founder, as well as support from Bain Capital Ventures – specifically Ben Nye and Ben Holzman – Stackdriver was born in July 2012.

Your background is in business development. What are the best strategies for searching for a startup job in business development? Are there any creative job search strategies that you’ve used or seen that really stand out?

Whether business development or other startup and technology jobs, what I’ve found that has worked best in finding a new job is connections and networking.

Often the best jobs aren’t advertised and most startup companies are always hiring. If you’re interested in business development, I’d recommend finding a few companies in a specific technology domain in which you have experience.

From there, identify the sales, product, or chief executives at those companies that you either have relationships with or to whom you can get introduced.

Once you begin to have conversations you’ll likely realize that either those companies are hiring or companies in the networks of those executives are hiring.

Stackdriver is hiring a Front-End Engineer and is hiring for many other positions as well. They’re a well funded startup with paying customers and a strong management team. Click here to learn more.

You’re not big on titles at Stackdriver. Can you explain why titles are not important (and perhaps detrimental) at/to a startup?

We’ve made a conscious decision at Stackdriver to forego titles as long as possible.  As a team, we’re focused on two goals:

  1. Hiring great people
  2. Building a great product.

We know that if we’re successful in both, the sky is the limit and we’ll have lots of options down the road.  Titles don’t fit the two goals we have right now so we specifically don’t focus on them.

Maintaining this cultural element has actually been easier than you’d think.  Great team members usually don’t care if there’s a C or VP in their title and instead are focused on building great companies.

In fact, we’ve had to make very tough decisions on what we thought were very skilled candidates but more focused on title vs. building a great product.

We’re not naïve to think this can continue forever. But we’ve hired an amazing team and achieved great results early in our startup life, so we’ll push this cultural element until the team says we need more structure.

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