Turn a product from a nice-to-have to an essential

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Arvind Jain noticed a problem that so many founders running a remote team can relate to.

Here’s the scenario: a person on your sales team wants to know what new features are in the product pipeline. They need the answer to close a sale, but the answer is buried in a Slack channel, or a Google Sheet, or somewhere else.

Well, Arvind created a product to solve that problem with Glean, which helps employees find the information they need at work.

I want to find out how he did it.

Arvind Jain

Arvind Jain


Arvind Jain is the founder of Glean, which helps employees find the information they need at work.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I, uh, do these interviews for entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs. And I wonder if you’ve had this problem as an entrepreneur yourself, maybe you have something like this. Someone on my team said, Hey, Andrew, what’s the criteria for being interviewed.

Don’t why are you asking me? It’s it’s it’s in a Google doc. I wrote it already. I, I put it into our guide. Fine. I’m not going to say that. Cause that’s a jerky thing to say. And I went and I looked in the guide myself for it. And then I ended up spending like 15 minutes fricking looking forward. It turns out it wasn’t in the guide.

It turns out it was on our website and I understand why they would struggle, but I don’t want to struggle looking for that. Well, joining me today is an entrepreneur who used to work at Google, who says, you know what? This is a search problem. I’m equipped to solve it. This is a problem that lots of businesses have.

And even more we’ll have in the future data is now everywhere. Maybe it’s not in the Google doc. Maybe it’s a notion. Maybe it’s actually in slack. Maybe you’ve emailed, who knows it’s somewhere there and why should you have to interrupt someone else to make them go look for it? Like they’re an old archivist that has to go back in time and figure out how we did things or what.

Why don’t we just have software do it. And so he created a company it’s called glean. And what it does is essentially acts like your work assistant that goes back and looks for that stuff, which is especially helpful. If you’re a new employee and you don’t want to bug people asking questions, it should be obvious, but are not.

And so he did it. It seems like an easy enough problem. It turns out it’s not, I invited him here to talk about that. I invited him here to talk about his previous business, a little bit rubric. Um,

and also how a guy who in India was introduced to PCs through his brother, ended up coming here and being involved in two phenomenal tech companies, others in addition, and also creating his own businesses.

We can find out about his tech and entrepreneurial story. Thanks to two phenomenal, uh, startup. Startups, no sponsors Arvin. What am I talking about? Arvin, uh, Gusto, which Arvin and I both use to pay our people. Gusto is a great way to pay your contractors. Employees. I’ll tell you later why you should go to gusto.com/mixergy.

And if you’re hiring developers, I highly recommend that you go check out lemon.io/slash Mixergy. But I’ll talk about those later because I’ve talked enough. Arvin is good to have here.

Arvind: Thank you so much, Andrew for having me.

Andrew: Give me an example of a problem that glean has already solved.

Arvind: yeah. Like, you know, for, for engineers, for example, they want to learn like how the product is better. Like, what are the different technical components like how they were designed and, and, you know, like from, in a company you’ll have all of this information sort of spread across so many different systems that, for example, in our company, we use Google drive.

We use conference. We use JIRA, slack, GitHub. And if you think about like all the information about how our product is built, designed, like what practices we follow, uh, how should we write code? As soon as this information is spread across all of these different systems. So when new people come. Um, for them to sort of just, you know, you know, onboard them to actually, you know, uh, it’s, it’s really important for them to have quick and easy access to all of this information.

Like they should not worry about, Hey, you know, where should I be looking for information? Like if you have a question, you know, you want to figure out how to, how to, you know, what editor to use to write your code. Like, you know, just asking one place, you know, like whether the dancer was in slack or an email or in a confluence VQ doc, you know, that should not be their, their burden to sort of figure it out.

Like innovatable. So that’s, that’s the volume that is called.

Andrew: To me, this seems like an easy enough problem for Google to solve people. Trust Google, Google should solve it. And I would think, all right, Google is going to create something in their G suite. And then I think back to how, when I needed search on my site to search through the couple of thousand interviews that I now have on the site Google’s site search was not good.

It was not. And I don’t know why it wasn’t good, but I know that ultimately it didn’t give some of the things that we specifically needed. That’s different from other sites, like searching for the guest’s name and company name is important. Even if I only mentioned, like, I might mention glean half a dozen times, maybe even five, who knows, but it’s important and I’d want to be able to come up with it.

And so that was an issue in others. So I’ve, I’ve realized that maybe Google can’t do that in a specialty company needs to handle that. What is the. What are the issues that make this so difficult? Why can’t you just take all the data? Suck it into one big pile and then search it.

Arvind: Yeah, that’s that’s, that’s a great question. Um, the , there are two parts to it, you know, first, you know, you mentioned like, why don’t you suck all the data into one, you know, like in one giant system and make it searchable. So that, that problem itself is hard. Cause you know, like as a, as an, as a company you are using, you know, maybe a hundred or even a thousand.

Uh, applications, um, SAS applications and connecting to them, pulling data from them and putting it into a search system. It requires you to build all of those integrations, right? And it’s not just Google, like, you know, as a company, you know, yes, you use Google or Microsoft as your core productivity suite, but you’re using, you know, many applications from many other vendors in addition to that.

So that’s, that’s, that’s the first problem, like to actually even just get hold of the data itself is, is, is a big problem. And you need to actually build, build, build a. Build technologies without, you know, go and get that data in. But the second part is that the, uh, it’s not enough to just look at these documents, find the words in them, and then just, you know, uh, give you a keyword based, uh, search experience on, of.

You need to understand many different things about this, this, uh, the, you know, all the data that you have. Uh, I’ll just talk about two things. One, the, you need to understand what content is actually still relevant versus. What content is popular or content was, you know, something that somebody wrote just for themselves versus a content that is being written, you know, for the purposes of disseminating to your entire organization.

So you just have to understand importance of different pieces of content you have also to understand people and what their information needs are. So for example, in our company, we have both engineers and marketing people. We also have salespeople and when they are looking for something, um, for example, if they’re looking for an onboarding.

It’s uh, you know, uh, depending on who they are, you need to pre, you know, present them with a different result because the sales person is looking for a sales onboarding guide and engineering person is of course in front end engineering guide. Right? So you have to understand, you don’t understand who the people are in the company.

You’d also understand the content, like, you know, who’s this content relevant for and use this enterprise knowledge graph. That’s what we call it to actually bring the most relevant answers to.

Andrew: Yeah, because when I think about it, even persuading for a salesperson is different than persuading for a marketer, right? Someone who’s. In charge of the website has a different type of persuasion. They’re trying to introduce the product. Someone who’s in a sales call might need to understand the company.

And it’s different. You understood this because of Rubrik. I’m guessing you had a problem there.

Arvind: Yeah,

Andrew: What is, what is rubric and what, before we get into the.

problem, how would you describe rubric?

Arvind: So Rubrik is also an enterprise software company that we started in early 2014. And the, the problem that we solved there was we made it easy for businesses to keep their data safe. No, it seems like there’s so many reasons why, like, you know, for a business is important, obviously, you know, you know, to keep all of the data safe and many things can go wrong.

Like, you know, you know, you can, your systems, you know, may, you know, fall apart or, or somebody may buy mistaken or delete data, or you have an attack, the security attack, you know, which sort of, you know, it’s holding you, you know, um, uh, ransom. The, in any, or all of those situations, like, you know, our product is, was meant to sort of, you know, help you have a, like an extra copy of the data so that you can call back, you know, like if anything bad happens.

So that was a business there, help a business, keep the data safe. And, um, so in, in some, you know, you can think of it as a data production company.

Andrew: Can you give me a sense of what the revenue is at Rubrik? I know you’re not there day to day, but where would we looking at tens of millions enterprise sales revenue.

Arvind: Uh, Rubrik is actually, uh, so, uh, I don’t know the exact numbers at this point, and neither will be allowed to share that fully, but, but it’s, you know, it’s definitely over a hundreds of millions of dollars.

Andrew: And you are a co-founder that business. Okay. And so you were starting to tell me how you experienced the problem there. How did you experience it?

Arvind: Yeah. So as, as we found success in, uh, at Rubrik, we started to grow, um, you know, rapidly as, as a company. And within 40 years we had almost like a thousand people in the company. And one of the things that we noticed as, as we saw that fast growth was that people were not as productive as they were when we were.

And, um, like for example, we would look at, you know, like how many lines of code are we writing every day? And there’s like, you know, like the, the head count is going like this, but, uh, like, you know, the sort of, uh, like the amount of, you know, what that we get done sort of stays flat or, you know, just, you know, I just, you know, at a much slower pace.

And so we, so we wanted to figure out like, you know, what’s wrong. Like why, what is coming in the way of people’s productivity? And, and we will do, uh, These company-wide surveys, pulse surveys ask people, um, what were the problems that they were facing and the number of people. Number one problem that, uh, people would always cite was, uh, Hey, I can’t find anything in this company.

I don’t know where to go and look for information that I need when I need, you know, when I need.

Andrew: Likewise. And so they would say they can’t do their jobs because they can’t find information.

Arvind: Yeah. And, and also, uh, not just information, but also, Hey, when I need help, I don’t know who to go and ask for help.

Andrew: Okay.

Arvind: So.

Andrew: Can you give an example of something that they wouldn’t know who to go and ask for help? Or I imagine the people just initially just go to the person they work for and say, I don’t know this thing, where do I find it? And then that person goes in hunted down or something,

Arvind: Yeah. So, I mean like, yeah, that, you know, some, you know, I guess you, you, you can do that, but I think as you know, like typically as a, as an employee, I don’t actually burden my manager with, Hey, I have this need at that meeting. Like, you know, just keep them busy. Like I don’t actually find these things myself, for example, as an India, Um, you know, say that I’m actually having difficulty, um, running, running a system now.

So I need to know like, who are the experts who know how to sort of, you know, set this up, how to around it. And the engineering team has 400 people. I don’t, I don’t exactly know who’s, you know, who’s, they know who’s, you know, who. Uh, ask, um, similarly, um, the, uh, and, and, and the thing is that yes, you know, you can actually always ask people, but the first thing, you know, as, as an, as an employee, like you won’t actually find out if you can, if you can help yourself, if you can actually call and, you know, search and find answers.

And, and, and when it comes to that, like suddenly you don’t know, like, you know, Hey, should I be looking for. You know, this piece of information and in Google drive or in slack, you know, see if there was any past conversations on this topic, or should I be looking in confluence, which is our Wiki or in JIRA where you’ve stored all the past issues.

So it’s sort of, nano-sized starts to get complicated when you have, when you have lots of people, then you have lots of applications. Like, you know, this, this need of like, you know, Hey, I need information or answers. It becomes hard. So that was a, that was a biggest problem.

Andrew: why create a company, then you saw that problem there. You had what? Over a thousand people at the time, right? Uh, why, why did you decide I’m going to go and create a company around this, instead of saying I’ll find somebody else and I’ll stick with one.

Arvind: So while, I mean, I’m not an investor, first of all. So keeping that aside, the, the, the vendors, when we saw this problem, It was not our first thought that, Hey, we should go and create another company that like, we were actually quite busy building Rubrik as a business, which was growing very rapidly and we were quite successful there.

So our, the first thing that we tried to do was, Hey, let’s go and try to buy a product for this. Like again, like you said, you know, I, I looked on, you know, search for most of my career and the first thing then when people say I can’t find things, you know, the first thing that comes to mind is let’s go and build a good search product.

So we try to buy. You know, like let’s go and buy a search. Part of this is like this, this should not be hard. And this is not a problem that, you know, just real

Andrew: Yeah. If Google is indexing the world’s information, this is such a small part of the world. It should be much easier.

Arvind: exactly. And, and, and, and, and it’s a problem that every little thing faces, not just us. Right? So, so we went out, you know, on that, uh, search for, you know, product that we could buy. And that’s when we realized that there was nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing that would actually solve our problem and solve it without us doing a lot of work ourselves, which we didn’t have, you know, resources for.

So the sort of started that way. And as we dig deeper and, and like, you know, the, the first year when we saw this problem, like, you know, we didn’t actually really solve it. We did another survey and the problem came, comes back again, you know, And, you know, which is when we say, Hey, like we really ought to solve this problem.

And, and, you know, we started to talk to a bunch of other companies to figure out what they were doing. And like long story short, like basically we found out that here’s, here’s this problem. It impacts every worker in every company in the world. And here it has no attention in the market. And so we felt, you know, we could have a big impact here by solving this problem, not just for Rubrik, but for everybody else.

And that’s sort of what led to the creation.

Andrew: I’ve been. Why do you think, how long did you spend at Google? You were

Arvind: I was there for over a decade.

Andrew: over a decade. Why do you think that Google never got into that? They dabbled in desktop search to let you search your own computer, and then they seem to have moved on past it. They never seem to have gotten into this. What do you know about both those

Arvind: Yeah. So actually Google had another product. Um, it used to be called the yellow box, the Google search appliance, uh, back in the day. So.

Andrew: And that was for company’s own data. for like a search of,

Arvind: data. Yeah. So then, so, so they had, you know, worked on that. I mean, ultimately like Google has so many things that it does. And I think that that was the thing that engineers at the company probably didn’t find the most exciting thing to work on.

Um, but, but, but more importantly, there were some, there is something about this problem solving. You know, making your business business data searchable was an extremely hard problem to solve in the past. Um, before the business technology moved to SAS based cloud applications, it used to be very complicated and customize for each business.

So, you know, if you build a search partner like Google had Google and search appliance, Google could not figure out like how to actually get all that data that a business has and put it into their system. So they’re part of what’s different. They would say that, Hey, you know, here’s a, here’s a, here’s an appliance.

You is your task to go and push it and do it. And then we’ll make one for

Andrew: that’s how it works. you.

know what? I used to see that it was a beautiful looking box. It was like one of those thin servers, uh, that goes into your cold room, which by the way, now that we talk about it like that, it seems a little dated, but I guess I never even thought of how. Businesses at the time kept their own data.

They weren’t in SAS. Okay. Got it. I was, I was in SAS already at that point. All right. So that was an issue, but eventually they, they realize that everything is SAS. Google started creating these SAS products. I don’t even think I could let my teams search through all their chat history and Gmail and Google drive together.

There’s not a single G suite search aside, as far as I know.

Arvind: Yeah. So I think the, uh, so yeah, so as the world moved to cloud-based applications, now it’s finally becoming possible for you to build a. But you don’t have to go and spend like six months or one year at a business trying to sort of get hold of. And put it into your search system. Right? So, so it’s finally feasible to build a product that works across businesses because there is, you know, there is that consistency now where you know, all the businesses in the world, they’re sort of using these standardized SAS applications that I’ve, you know, standard API is that you can actually go and use to pull data.

So, so like, again, we’re coming back to Google, like, again, it’s. Think in my opinion, like, you know, Google, Google has so many great products and so many initiatives that they’re to work on. And I think this is a matter of prioritization and like probably this effort just doesn’t fit into, into their, um, into their overall plans.

Andrew: Okay. So you realize this needs to be a thing. You decide that you’re going to be the person tackling it because it’s so big. Um, as an introvert yourself, you realize, okay, I wouldn’t want to go and talk to others. I bet there are others in companies that don’t want to go and do that. Kind of put myself out there, request all the time.

Arvind: Yeah.

Andrew: And so the first version, what did you build and, and how did it go?

Arvind: So, uh, the, the first version of the product was, um, what is a search engine? So you know, about what it does is it connects with, um, some of the most popular cloud-based SAS application.

Andrew: The very first version connected with them or was the first version, just like a slack search.

Arvind: No. So even the SOC is like the, the way you build a startup is you have to find a few customers who are facing this problem. So of course, like my, I already knew that my previous company Rubrik was facing it. So they were one of our early customers. Uh, and then there were a few more. So we work with those companies.

We figure out, Hey, where is all our enterprise content and knowledge? What applications are you. And we’ve, we’ve figured out that there were about 10 applications that were across these customers, you know, where they had most of their data stored. So then the first version of our product, we built kind of trust with those 10 applications and build and build a search experience, uh, or, or, or those apps.

And, and, and then, you know, we give the power up to these companies. They start to use it. You know, people, people loved it. They gave

Andrew: They loved it. Even that first search, the first version was good enough.

Arvind: Yeah. It’s actually, well, I mean, see, so we actually took our time, like, you know, it’s not a burden. We didn’t give them something that doesn’t work. It’s the interesting thing about the product, like search, you know, people have very high expectations. Like, can you, you’ve been using Google search for so many years and it’s awesome.

Right? It worked so well. And you can’t go like, you know, we knew that we could not go and give people a subpar product. That that was always a problem in this space.

Andrew: to make it real to make it really good, though. One of the things you told our producer here at Mixergy was that you would kind of go and do searches on their behalf and then give them the results that they were looking for. Is that right? Like, uh, like what, uh, Eric Reese might’ve called the concierge MVP

Arvind: Um,

Andrew: misunderstanding?

Arvind: yeah, and I think maybe, maybe so, like the way it works is at, see, we build this. And it’s it’s, you know, so the way the park works is that it actually connects with all of our internet applications. It pulls straight up on them. It has put it into our search index and it has made it searchable. But in addition to that, what we’re also doing is we’re actually trying to understand what people are doing in your, in the company already know it.

Would we actually look for what are the things that are already searching for. What are they actually, you know, one’s been, and, you know, searching for not just in our system, but all in the native applications as an example. Right. And, and we learned from all of those behaviors, we learned from like the questions that people have asked in slack and how other people have answered those questions.

And the goal of the product is on day one. It has to sort of, uh, benefit from all of these interactions and activities that have happened over the past in that company so that you, you give it. It, you know, learned experience on day one to the product. It has to be, it has to be that, that was our bar, that when we actually give a search product to our users, it had to be excellent on that day.

One for them,

Andrew: And so it was manually teaching the software, not manually getting the search results for employees. It was manually going in and saying, what are the top questions that we’re getting? What’s the best way to get those answers. We’re going to code that in to certain. The, where we’re doing the search and pulling that information.

What are some of the top questions that businesses would ask that you’d see,

Arvind: Um, so like some things which are really common as, you know, people, people are always looking for other people, you know? Uh, so that’s, that’s one like really popular.

Andrew: like who’s the CEO or who would know

Arvind: Sometimes there’s a name of people or they will say like, you know, who’s an expert on, on, on a given topic. Um, um, there are a lot of, you know, there are a lot of questions around, uh, looking for, um, so, and know sort of changes from team to team. So engineers, for example, one of the most common things that they are looking for is, you know, they, they’re getting a, like they’re doing something and they get an error code.

Something’s not. And then, then what they, you know, that sort of system error message and they want to put it in the search box and try to see, Hey, did somebody else run into it? How did they work around it? So that’s sort of, that’s a very common cases. So it depends like every, every, every person I read every employee in a company like, you know, they will have, you know, Such as you know, that dominate their attention for our sales people.

For example, they will, they will do a lot of queries around product roadmap. Hey, you know, does our product support this feature or not? So those are sort of the common questions there.

Andrew: I wouldn’t have thought of that, but product roadmap would be really helpful for a salesperson. If you can say no, but we are working on that. It’s much better than no, we don’t have that.

Arvind: Yeah,

Andrew: You know what? I should take a moment and say my sponsor Gusto Arvind you use Gusto right now at glean. You do. Why do you like Gusto

Arvind: Australia is great to me. Like it works for us. Like, you know, there’s so many things for us and it’s easy. Like, you know, it’s just, yeah.

Andrew: It’s just such a beautiful, simple tool. And the reason I say beautiful, simple all the time, I think people who listen to me might not know why do I care about the beauty of something that’s just supposed to pay your employees, your contractors, whether they work in the U S international it’s because a lot of the software just overly built too many things hidden.

And the truth is when you want someone to get paid, you want to do it as quickly as possible and be sure that they get paid. And you don’t want to know. You don’t want to wonder are they going to get paid next week? Today tomorrow, it’s not like I’m trying to make money on the float, just pay them and make it easy for them to know that they could read.

They could be assured that their money is coming in. Anyway, if you’re out there listening to me and you’ve heard me say this, you’ve heard my past guests say it over and over. My guests have said that they use Gusto, or frankly, at some point, even once they go public or they have thousands of employees, they’re honest.

And they say we don’t use it anymore. Or we just don’t. But when they’re in that startup world, they tend to use Gusto, which is why I’m grateful to Gusto for sponsoring, because frankly they don’t even need to, they’ve got my audience already, but if you’re paying, using a different system and you want to start to transition into Gusto, now’s a great time to do it.

If you’ve been paying people with, maybe you’ve got a new company, I don’t know what you’re paying them with QuickBooks or whatever. Go try Gusto. I’m gonna let you try for free. If you use my URL, it’s available for you for a limited time. If you go to gusto.com/mixergy handle payments to contractors and employees handle benefits so much more and have a human being there, ready to talk to you.

gusto.com/mixergy. Um, you reached out to a few companies, like you told our producer outreach.io, confluent. Um, I’m thinking of a few others, but essentially when you were talking to them, Arvin, did you say. We want to build it. If we build it, will you sign up? Will you be our first beta customers? Will you commit to integrating it?

What did you say? How did you get them to let you know that they wanted to be partners with this?

Arvind: Yeah. So the first, first thing is we, we, when we talk to these companies, we ask them like, you know, was this a problem for them? I call it are their employees complaining to them that they’re not finding information, that they’re struggling to keep track of all the information spread across so many. So once, you know, once, once these companies say that, yes, you know, this is a problem for us.

Um, then we tell them that, Hey, like if you were to build this product, would you go and use it? Um, and of course, you know, all these companies said, yes, and that’s why they were in our, you know, in our early access program. Um, and then, then we will work with them. The, the, the, the next step is to sort of understand from them what their environments are, what are the applications they’re using.

And then we prioritize those in our, in our building. And ultimately when we built the part up, um, we would take it to them first. Like, you know, whoever we work with, like, you know, like it’s just a small number of people at these companies. Uh, we would make sure that, you know, they get to test drive the product.

They like it. And once if feel like, Hey, like this is, this is, this is working great. Then we sort of roll it out to the rest of the.

Andrew: we talked before we got started here recording about how a past guest here created a similar product for SMB. SMBs tend to be on slack, tend to be using a sauna, tend to be using notion. Now Google docs search for all those, give them answers. It seemed like the type of thing that an individual, a company could just sign up for connect, have their answers, and then evangelize to the rest of the company.

U S they’re not doing it anymore. You said there’s an issue with doing it that way. You know, the slack down, up approach. What’s the issue with that?

Arvind: Yeah. So, so one thing is that cl company content is actually spread across many, many different applications. And if you put the burden of like connecting each one of your company applications, you know, with the search product, that’s it, that’s a lot of work that you’re asking end users to do. And oftentimes they won’t get it.

Like people don’t have patients like, you know, like I don’t have, you know, I don’t have the time to invest, you know, uh, you know, in like, you know, doing all this work in a product that actually had not yet gotten any benefit from. So that’s sort of one thing, like, it’s just hard for like to rely on individuals to actually do a lot of heavy lift, you know, heavy lifting ahead of time before they can actually start to see the benefits of the product.

So, so you want to make it easy for them. That’s number one, number two. Search as a problem. Isn’t starting individual, uh, individual individual problem. It’s actually, you have to learn from oral company behavior. So think about this. What makes Google search so good? What makes it so good is that there are like, you know, like millions of people, you know, billions of people using the search bar every day and Google is learning constantly.

Like, you know, you, you, you, you search for something and you, you, you see like, you know, as you know, these four results here and, you know, you say, Hey, the second one is the best one. I’m going to click on that. And, and then you have like, you know, let’s say, you know, 10,000 people have done that and now, you know, they will Google actually one knows that, Hey, that second one was actually better than the first one.

And they should, you know, So, so this is a very important part of search. Like search is a team is a team game. Like, you know, where a lot of people are seeking information. A lot of people are of course providing information and you need to understand what matters more to whom. And only with that broad sort of understanding, you know, of, of, of like your company or people, um, are you able to create the best experience?

So that’s why it’s important. It’s important to actually set the product up for everybody all the time.

Andrew: I see. So I understood the part before we started about. Individuals can’t sit and connect to all the different apps. Some apps won’t even let you connect into them unless you are the admin of the. But then I guess you’re also saying some of the data that you want, you may not even have access to because you may not be in that, in that software.

It’s just not something that the company sets you up with. But I hadn’t thought about also the other side, which is every time someone in the company uses the data, they’re also informing the software about what is valuable and what’s not valuable. Got it. And they’re voting on it, which then informs software, even when. Okay. And then I’m guessing then that by going to enterprise, you also get better direct feedback from the, from your customer.

Arvind: Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s a good, that’s a good, um, feature as well, right? Where you actually get to first work with, um, your, the customer, you know, who could be the CIO as an example. And, uh, Yeah. And, you know, they’re your partner in this journey that they’re the ones who are actually first, like making sure that everybody, you know, in their company learns about this.

So we had ones like, you know, we work with one person, you know, spend the time with them, but then we get like, like a thousand users all at once. Right. You don’t have to actually acquire them one at a time. And, and of course, like, you know, you know, since there are, there are champions that are partners, you know, we get like awesome feedback, which is synthesized, collected by.

And, you know, shared back with us. So yeah, so that’s a, that’s a, that’s a great, you know, that’s an awesome benefit of, of the strategy.

Andrew: Okay. And So, as you’re, as you’re talking to them, what did you learn that you didn’t expect?

Arvind: So, um, the w one, one, um, interesting learning for us was that while, you know, this is such a. Important problem. Like, you know, to me, for example, there’s nothing more important than this item. And obviously now I’m biased maybe in that way, but this is a problem that absolutely has to be solved. Like, you know, people, people need to be able to find answers to their questions like it has, it’s got to be easy for them, but the, when you go and talk to enterprises, one of the things that actually becomes a sticky point is that this system now has, is connected to all of your enterprise applications.

It has all the data. You know, our parcels, all that data inside it. So it becomes a security risk for companies. And so we, we anticipated that, you know, there will be questions around that and we built our product, you know, uh, accordingly, like, you know, it’s pretty secure. Um, but, but we, we saw that this was actually an even bigger problem than, than what.

So there is a, you know, so we go and sign a new customer. Like, you know, we actually have to spend a lot of time, uh, working with security teams, uh, explain to them why, you know, this, you know, our product is built the right way so that they feel comfortable, you know?

Andrew: Yeah. I feel like the fact that you worked at Rubrik before must and Google before it must give you a lot of credibility. You’re talking about sucking in such important company data that people would hesitate. Even if a company that’s well-known had jumped into this space.

Arvind: That’s true. So you have to, yeah, so it’s, it’s a, yeah, I didn’t, you know, that, that part helps, you know, that we have the right experience. You know, our team has welded the right companies before and we understand enterprise and how sensitive, you know, uh, protecting data is, uh, for a company. Um, so, so that has definitely helped.

And then, then, then of course, like we’ve actually from day one, You’ve spent a lot of time on this, on this particular issue, we have made sure that the system is built in a very locked down fashion, where it’s hard to sort of catch into it by an attacker. Um, we, um, have built like an innovative sort of deployment strategies where a company can, for example, they don’t have to worry about trusting us with the data.

Like, you know, we let them actually run the entire system within their own environment so that nothing. You know, you know, uh, their own, uh, you know, tech environment and that sends, you know, why we still, you know, fully manage it for them. So, so we’ll spend a lot of time, uh, sort of solving for this concern and innovating on the tech front, um, uh, to, to fight.

And I think ultimately, you know, that has worked out well.

Andrew: Did you get your customers from LinkedIn? I kind of assumed that you’d just go back to the rubric customers who knew you and said you liked this when we were saving your data from a ransom attacks and all other things. Would you consider doing this thing? But no, you went and got cold outreach on LinkedIn.

Arvind: When you, when you, when you start a company, the, um, it’s, it’s very important first to, to actually work with. Real customers, not, not customers who are, who may potentially also be our friends, because you may get wrong signals. Now, if you actually go and exercise your relationships and get people to say, Hey, like, you know, buy this product or try this product out, they will do it as a favor to you.

Um, but, but you learn, learn wrong things from. Uh, you may, you may start to think that, oh, actually this product makes sense. You know, like, you know, like, you know, we got like, you know, 20 people already have bought this, but, um, so that, you know, that’s something I really wanted to avoid when we were building this part out.

We wanted to make sure that we go uninitiated, like, you know, in, in these conversations where we don’t actually, we want to learn like how big this problem is. And we want to learn from people who don’t know. And so that, that was the reason why we, uh, UV actually chose to, um, do cold outreach to people because that gives us the best signal on how it is, how important this problem is.

How, how much top of mind it is for people.

Andrew: What do you have now? 40 customers, something like that.

Arvind: Yeah. We about 50 customers. Yes.

Andrew: I went to the pricing page on your site and you do what every enterprise company does, which is say, uh, get a demo, talk to our people. How do you charge, do you charge on a per person basis? Do you charge based on data that you collect?

Arvind: Yeah. So our pricing model is actually quite simple, a recharge, uh, for every active user that uses the product, uh, per month. And it’s a fixed fee and it doesn’t matter how much data there is in the system are how many searches a person is doing? Uh, it’s just a flat, fixed price per user.

Andrew: As long as they’re searching and if they stop searching because of the fact that they’re not the company or just don’t like it, you don’t charge automatically.

Arvind: Right. So, yeah, so it’s basically standard. Like that’s

Andrew: What do you charge per seat per

Arvind: yeah, so that’s, uh, that’s, that’s, uh, it’s sort of, you know, depends the, um, different salts on the size of the company and all, but like our standard pricing is printed dollars.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And truthfully, I was going to ask you your revenue, but I should say to people, I, I check in with the guests before he told me the revenue, but you don’t feel comfortable saying even like over a million or underwrite, you just you’d rather avoid the whole thing.

Arvind: I mean, it was fine. Like, you know, we are, we are certainly worth a million, but yeah, we don’t, we don’t share the exact numbers right

Andrew: I understand. Meanwhile, your other company. Rubric is what $3.5 billion business

Arvind: Rubrik at this point is a much larger business. Of course.

Andrew: Can you imagine? And you know what, and I would have thought that these businesses would have been started by somebody who grew up waiting their whole lives to be an entrepreneur, builds a multi-billion dollar business.

You’re smiling as I’m saying this and trying to hold back. But in reality, that’s not, you, you grew up just wanting to be a, like a coder developer. Is that right?

Arvind: Yeah. I mean the, like, I definitely didn’t like, see, like I’ve gone, like in terms of like, you know, sometimes, you know, I would have this desire that, Hey, I want to be an entrepreneur, but, but I, I think it was not always, you know, uh, top of mind for me, I was not actually like hunting for a problem, trying to actually figure out how to go and start a company.

Um, like

Andrew: were at the type of you grew up in, uh, in the time that bill gates had kind of put his stamp on the business world and the tech world. Did you grow up like admiring bill gates? Did you grow up wanting to be like him at some point?

Arvind: That’s a good question. Of course. Uh, most people in my generation probably are not United my, and my pancakes. I mean, something like, like, you know, the, his impact on the world is just amazing. Like bringing a computer to every single person. Like that’s such a, such a bold vision and like, you know, making it actually happen.

So that’s, that’s amazing. So that most definitely. Uh, like he was, he was a role model role model for, for me. Uh, but again, like I said in, like, I was not, uh, particularly, uh, thinking about being an entrepreneur, um, like as I was going through my career, uh, the, the Mo the most important thing on my mind for us, uh, getting to work on great products, having big impacts.

Um, and luckily, like, you know, like the jobs I had, um, especially at Google, um, you could give us like, you know, some, so much, you know, some opportunities to build products like Google search or maps, or you do bridge,

Andrew: You’re working on all those. You know what, let me take a moment here. And then I want to come back and find out a little bit about your background. The second sponsor is lemon.io. When you’re looking to hire developers, lemon has got you covered with phenomenal developers at a lower price than you can get anywhere else.

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You ended up working after graduating at Microsoft. What did you do at Microsoft?

Arvind: I was a software developer. I worked on the windows operating system. It used to be called windows NT at that time. And

Andrew: this is the server software, right.

Arvind: that was actually the actual windows system.

Andrew: Okay.

Arvind: I mean, yeah, so they had a home version and then they had a professional versions of this was the professional version versions. I will done some of the core sort of, uh, uh, under the hood kind of components of that system.

Andrew: And then@theheightofthe.com era, you worked for Akamai Akamai was about making websites faster by taking their content and spreading it out across the world. So that it, that the content was closer to the consumer of that content. Right?

Arvind: Yeah.

Andrew: What did you learn by being there at that, at that great period. And then at that difficult period with them, this was 99 to 2000.

Arvind: Yeah, it was a, it was an amazing experience for me. So the first thing was like, you know, going from the, the largest software company in the world. To do one of the smallest ones, you know, like 20 people or so, I mean, there was like, it was such a night and day kind of experience, you know? Um, you know, for me, um, it was a place, you know, where I really learned how to, um, like how, how do you know, build a product from a very early stage?

How does she understand, you know, that the whole process of building a product and building a company because you know, this, this is the very first time where I was not told what. You know, in this company. And I go in, and interestingly, nobody’s telling me that, Hey, like you should go and work on, you know, uh, this, this bulk artists feature.

Andrew: would they present a project to you? Or how would you find something to work on?

Arvind: Yeah. That was interesting things. I, I distinctly remember my first day, like, you know, I, I walk in and. And I’m sort of waiting for somebody to pick me up and tell me that, you know, like, you know, this is your seat and this is your manager and, and you know, he’s going to tell you what to do. No, no, none of that happened.

Like nobody, nobody met me. I’d actually just go and ask people around like, Hey, like, you know, what am I supposed to be doing here? And, and people said, yeah, just go and meet people, learn, learn about the company, learn about the product and see like, you know, what sort of like what catches, you know, your like, you know, interest and

Andrew: Really did that work as like a productivity management technique?

Arvind: I mean, I actually had worked. I mean, so this was a, this, this was the first time I experienced this. And then, and then of course I’d Google, Google was always like this where like, you know, engineers would come in and they would just get to choose what they wanted to work on. Like everybody had full freedom to just, you know, pick whatever projects they worked on.

So yeah, it actually, it is interesting, you know, it, it, it, it definitely works in the early stages of a company because when, when. Uh, like forced to join compared to very early stage, you know, they’re very motivated. They want to actually learn all of this stuff. They want to learn how to, you know, take business problems and convert them into real products and business.

Right. So that they want to go through that learning experience. It works for them. Uh, ultimately of course, you know, you know, like the, once you grow beyond a certain scale, um, you have, you have to bring in more processes, um, uh,

Andrew: So what did you end up working on at Akamai?

Arvind: So my, the, my, my, I started the, um, the team that would actually help companies serve videos or.

So, so before, when we joined my, um, the first part was basically, you know, ever made, it will make, um, companies serve their, their pages faster to their users, but there’s no media element, but the on the internet was actually so hard at that time because it’s almost. Ben Burton. Typically you look at like put like a tiny, like a video thumbnail on, on a page.

And so, so, and it was still incredibly hard. So that, so that was our first part of that I worked on, which is how do you actually enable, um, sites like cnn.com, like to put videos on their site? So, um, so our network of servers across the world would actually sell those videos to end users, um, without putting in all that load on the cnn.com web server.

So that, that was the

Andrew: Got it. Okay. And then you went off and you became one of the founding engineers at Riverbed tech. Um, this was for about a year, get an, a young company. Why’d you move on from there to, to Google where you stayed for what? 10 years? 11 years.

Arvind: Yeah, I mean for Google, uh, no, I just love Google search as a product, so, so phenomenal. And, and I know like most of, most of the people who I know, like the best people, uh, best engineers that I knew off, uh, they were, they were all going and joining Google, you know, and, and, and working there. So it had that like, sort of.

Like, you know, uh, like I had this fascination about, about that product and, and I really wanted to work on it. So that’s, that’s why I

Andrew: And this was a year before the IPO people by then had realized as consumers, how hot Google was as business people, how hot the business was and as engineers, how good they were to their developers. Right. And how, how their developers were both engaged in the community outside of Google and also getting to work on cool projects.

So you got in at the height and then you stayed there because.

Arvind: All of us is Google. You know, uh, it was an amazing company. I mean, the, I like, you know, I never experienced, um, you know, like, you know, this, this was actually my fourth job and I, I never seen a company like that. Like, firstly.

Andrew: what, what did you, what did you love about it back then? Take me into the world of Google back in 2000 3, 4, 5.

Arvind: Yeah. So, so first, like the, you know, the company had amazing people, like everybody who you would meet would just be evolved by like, you know, like their accomplishments. And how smart they were. And it was just like, it was, it’s always like, you know, when you, when you work, if you’re surrounded by colleagues who, who you can respect, like what amazing, like that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the, that’s the number one thing.

So I really love that part of, you know, about the company. Second was the freedom and the trust that it replaced on understanding. So before, before Google, like, you know, sometimes I used to think about like, you know, Hey, you know, is, is software like being a software developer that was not considered the, like the senior or the more impactful position, like, you know, as a software developer, you’re supposed to just do what your managers or your product managers would tell you to do.

And, and, and the company hierarchy will sort of seem like that. But Google was actually the reverse where engineers rule the rule. Thank you, you know, but nobody could tell you what, what, what, what we had to work on. You have to figure it out yourself, all the innovation, all the great ideas. It would come from engineering and people had full freedom.

Like you could, you

Andrew: an example of something that you worked on that was especially fulfilling and exciting.

Arvind: Yeah. I mean, I think it was just, it was such a, such a different culture. Like, you know, it was very unique. I mean, now

Andrew: you work on in the early days?

Arvind: let’s say that again.

Andrew: What did you work on in the early days? That was exciting.

Arvind: Yeah. So initially we just worked on, so to me that we didn’t have other products, I’ve all done. Um, the core search infrastructure pieces, like, uh, my first project in Google was to, to make sure we could actually, you know, take, you know, build a search index and push it to all of our servers around the world.

So it’s more focused on that part.

Andrew: And then over the years, what’s the thing that you were most excited and proud of.

Arvind: Yeah. I mean, so after, like after, after two years, um, I was actually given the responsibility to lead Google India, build our operations in India and later. And the, and as part of that, like, so, and, and again, like go into Google’s fashion, like, we were not told what to do. They’re like, you know, other than the fact that, Hey, go there and build a large team, like w we were not given any, you know, direction on what to do with that team.

So, so like, as we started to build that, um, build, build our R and D operations with, to figure out what to do. You know, what should we do here? And so the first thought that I’ve crossed our mind was like, you know, let’s make sure that all of our products work very well in our, you know, in, in the country.

Right. And also in like, you know, in the emerging markets and, and it was actually, it was, it was sort of revealing in the sense that we saw that, Hey, even Google maps, like in as a primary product for Google, it just didn’t work in almost any country in the world. You only worked in like 10 countries in the world.

Andrew: But Arvin, they specifically said to you just go there and build out our team. If you are excited about maybe adding more developers to the Google map in the us and not completely ignoring India, they would have been okay with it. They would have said Arvin decided that the Google map software needs more engineering work.

It needs to be a better product, even if it doesn’t work for him there. So that’s fine. And that’s the way they worked.

Arvind: It worked like that. Yeah. Like the decision was, it was left to engineers, you know, they, they trusted, you know, the organization to do the right things.

Andrew: So then why do you leave a company that pays you well, right. You did well with stock because you were at a great time there and gives you that kind of freedom and that kind of impact to go start Rubrik your own business back in 2014, why did you leave?

Arvind: Well, I mean, one thing is I actually, I didn’t leave for a long time. Like I actually spent more time, more than double the time at Google than I spent at all my companies before that. So it was, it was a great place. I was, I had. Um, intention to leave as such. I think the, again, like I said, the, the journey of Rubrik was sort of accidental, you know, where, you know, we, you know, like, you know, a friend of mine and, uh, who’s the CEO there.

Um, he and I met and we, you know, we were just thinking, you know, like we started to talk about. Problems, you know, that like he was actually, uh, he was invested before that. So he would, he would actually be more in touch with I figuring out like, you know, what are the problems that are still being unsolved in the, in the, in the marketplace?

One of the things, you know, at that time, like in 20 20 13, 20 14, was that all the attention in the tech world was on consumer. I had the Uber and Airbnb and all these great names, but like, there’s not as much attention being paid to like how to solve problems or businesses. And there’s one particular problem that I was so hard for businesses to keep their data safe.

It was, it was an area where there were no new, no innovation, no new company, you know, businesses had to use like two decade old. And so, so it’s just like, you know, the problem sort of game, you know, you know, in front of us and we felt, Hey, like, you know, maybe you should, you know, go and solve it. And so part of it was also just trying to, you know, doing something new, like, you know, for a long time, you know, being at Google.

So that was that that’s sort of what happened there.

Andrew: All right. I love the, I love that You keep getting these great domains like Rubrik has just rubrik.com. Glean is just glean.com, which is such a good name. You’re just gleaning information from everything, and then making it more presentable. Do you think at some point that you’re going to go down to small medium-sized businesses or do you think this has to be an enterprise?

Arvind: You already work with. Uh, sort of medium-sized companies are actually like complete, like, see this problem actually impacts everyone, whether you are a 10 person company or a 50%, not a hundred percent. Um, right now, just like, you know, from a, like how we can scale our business. What’s sort of like, you know, based on our limited, um, like had only limited sort of, you know, uh, staffing in the company, we tend to focus more on mid, mid and large size companies.

But that includes, I guess when I, when I say mid I’m actually talking about companies with 200. I, we work with many of those. Um, and, and over time, certainly we would want every company in the world, whether, you know, you’re a five person company, or 10% or 10,000 person company, you would want all of them to use.

Andrew: This is a huge problem. I don’t know why others hadn’t jumped into it. I’m glad that you’re in it. I feel like it’s a problem that a lot of people have. I would even suggest that one person companies would have that problem where, you know, there’s a thing that somebody has done, you know, you’ve but where is it?

Where is it across all these different places? And frankly, sometimes it’s in like the old task software and now you’re using a new task software. Sometimes it’s like in Google docs because that’s where you used to keep your notes. And now it’s a notion because that’s the funner place to use it. And where is it?

All right. Well, congratulations on what you’re doing with glean. I’m excited to see that you’re, that you’re building this solution. I’m looking forward to it just spreading and spreading and spreading. Thanks.

Arvind: Thank you so much, Andrew, for, for having me, it was a fun conversation.

Andrew: thanks. Arvind and thank you to my two sponsors. Again, if you’re looking to pay your people, contractors, employees, wherever they are, I urge you to go and check out Gusto. Like I, and many of my guests have done go to gusto.com/mixergy to use it for free and for a limited time. And if you want to hire developers, talk to the people@lemonlemon.io slash Mixergy great company.

Thank you. Thank you, Arvin. Bye.

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