Graphiant is my sixth startup. Fortunately, four of my previous ventures proved successful: Nile, Viptela, Timetra, and Fore Systems. The first three were leadership roles, where I helped early-stage companies transform into thriving ones. Sacrifice, hard work, and luck contribute greatly to the success of all startups, but I consider additional indicators when evaluating the potential of any startup before I join: vision, leadership, culture, and, most importantly, the team. Graphiant satisfies each of these requirements.
I have had the pleasure of working with Khalid at Viptela. He invented SD-WAN, a software-defined wide area network, at a time when traditional WAN technologies like MPLS, or Multiprotocol Label Switching, were considered mature and irreplaceable in the marketplace. Not many believed in his vision initially, but his persistence paid off; a year later, he found believers willing to invest. Viptela delivered the industry’s first SD-WAN solution that was simple, secure, and scalable. SD-WAN technology offered benefits such as improved routing, better user experience, reduced latency, cost-effective connectivity, and advanced functionality for managing internet connections and MPLS connections. Viptela’s solution made it easier for branch offices to manage routers and provided real-time provisioning of VPN and firewalls, which made it attractive for service providers and enterprise networks. Viptela’s success saw many other companies turning to SD-WAN solutions.
Khalid has an innate ability to recognize game-changing opportunities in the industry and act on them, which he has proven again with Graphiant. Graphiant’s vision is to offer a super-scalable Network-as-a-Service (NAAS) solution with MPLS-like SLAs at commodity prices lower than SD-WAN’s TCO. It provides a very compelling value proposition for customers by offering simple ways to achieve cloud onramp, B2B extranet, and service integration. Graphiant’s solution leverages broadband internet and enhances application performance, ensuring critical applications and data centers receive the necessary bandwidth and redundancy. The use of overlay MPLS circuits further improves network efficiency and flexibility.
Leadership drives organizational culture and is a key factor in a startup’s success. Khalid has a unique leadership style that I have rarely seen throughout my career. He is down-to-earth, compassionate, and always available. When combined with his technical acumen, these qualities make him a great leader for a technology company. He has often stated that a leader’s emotional quotient (EQ) is just as important as their IQ. I credit Khalid with developing my own leadership style. Startups are stressful, and the process can be an emotional experience. You need a leader who can focus on the goal and navigate the team toward achieving it through successes and challenges. Khalid and his leadership team can execute this process effectively and efficiently and ensure the journey is an enjoyable one for everyone.
Graphiant’s inception was at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. A startup needs to build a diverse team that can contribute positively to the culture. Graphiant has established a team with members from various backgrounds that offer different perspectives on how to make Graphiant great. Developing a collaborative team quickly and fostering professional relationships among colleagues are important factors when launching a startup. I am very proud of the Graphiant team. In the limited time I have known them, I have observed a smart group of people who each bring a unique perspective to the team with the common goal of ensuring Graphiant’s success. They have demonstrated maturity and maintained focus despite the challenges of working remotely. I am honored to join this team and look forward to creating a high-performance company together.