I wish you a wonderful and happy new year! Here at Luminix, we closed another great calendar year with 2016. It has been a significant year in terms of customer acquisition, product development and company growth. We now have customers on all continents except Antarctica! And all of you who took part in building companies from the ground-up know that it is a huge stamp of approval for our product and our team! And we are starting out 2017 with good momentum and growth. So, it was appropriate for us to pause and ask ourselves this question: Are we on the right path? If so, how can we tell?
After a good deliberation, the answer turned out to be simple and clear. We know we are doing the right thing because our customer base keeps growing and once they sign up, they stick with us over long periods of time. Some of our customers have been with us for 4 years now and some of them recently renewed their contracts for another 2 years. So we have quite a few number of big brand named customers that have been with us over half a decade. In the age of companies struggling to cope with easily shifting customer loyalties, this is a significant medal of honor for us.
How is it that a nimble, enterprise software company achieved this kind of customer loyalty? After all, Enterprise Software hardly elicits words like sexy, slick or emotional in its description or nature. Speaking from experience, I can tell you it comes down to two things: 1. A solid product 2. Dedication to making the customer successful. This may seem a trivial way to summarize but I can’t emphasize the importance of these two principles and I will share my take on why these principles matter so much.
In the past decade or so, Silicon Valley has seen a new breed of entrepreneurship that has been obsessed with consumer sector. I often watched this trend with a mixture of curiosity and fascination. I have especially paid close attention to the term ‘Minimum Viable Product’. It is a great concept but often susceptible to misinterpretation. When it comes to Enterprise Software, when working with critical customer data, you don’t have too many chances to prove your product is what they need. So, making sure you have shipped a product that fulfills its core promise and conforms to standards on so many fronts. Think of simple things like encryption of data at rest, integration, clean data, security, data integrity, compliance, industry regulations. The list can go on! Add to that mixture, the ability to customize and extend your product. All of you who dealt with enterprise customers know, no two customers are alike and they rarely ever want the exact same thing. Keeping all of this mind, how do you design a product that is a solid, secure solution and easily customizable? All the while remembering you are building a product company and intending to stay that way (I have known several companies where customizations take them down rabbit holes of consulting engagements). So building a product with these core principles in mind is essential to building an enterprise ready product. The key to this is surrounding yourself with people who have worked on enterprise software in their previous jobs. We understand the intricacies, err.. joys of it!
One thing we consistently hear from our customers is that Luminix truly cares about their needs and their success. Often times our relationship with customers is more like a partnership than vendor-customer type in nature. I distinctly remember one incident where a big customer of ours had an issue deploying Pulsar and our team members participated in many conference calls until the issue is resolved. We spent many hours on this problem even though it was a single-sign-on server setup issue and not related to our product at all. One of our team members had relevant background and patiently contributed his knowledge to resolving the issue. The architect and IT team manager from the customer side later said to me multiple times how our team acted as an extension of their IT team and how much they appreciated our dedication. Once they have witnessed this willingness, a customer will rest assured that they are in good hands. They will be willing to even forgive a bug or two (it is the nature of software after all!) because they know you will try your hardest to solve it right away. One important thing to keep in mind is that this attitude needs to continue post sales cycle. Often companies tend to over promise and under deliver. We make sure we set expectations clearly and deliver what we promise.
I hope we continue to treat these two principles as our operating guidelines as we grow through the next stage and integrate them into our company’s core culture. I also hope this post shed some light on how to build enterprise products from the ground-up. Let us know if you have any questions and I am happy to exchange ideas with you.
I wish you all a wonderful 2017 and let these words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr guide us through this new year!
“I have decided to stick to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Thanks for your time,