There’s something exhilarating about being a “first.” By default, you become a trendsetter and, ideally, you blaze a trail for others to follow. However, the path ahead of you is uncertain.
Steve Keil, the CEO of MammothDB, knows this quite well. MammothDB is a Bulgarian-based startup disrupting the data analytics space by taking on some of the biggest names in tech. Steve and his team were also one of the companies to join the inaugural class of the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence (Cisco EIR) program in Europe.
A European Startup with the Ambitious Goal of Disrupting Enterprise Analytics
MammothDB provides a fast-to-deploy and scalable enterprise analytics solution that is significantly more cost-effective compared to the incumbent competition.
“We set out to create a more affordable database focused on the data-warehouse and enterprise analytics,” explained Keil. “We allow customers to get a unified perspective over their end-to-end business operations—from asking questions about daily or weekly operations, customers, and marketing to taking deeper dives into historical data over time.”
Before joining the Cisco EIR Program, MammothDB had made some promising initial traction in the industry, including landing paying customers.
Yet, challenges loomed.
“We were established, but of course, we had our problems,” said Keil. “We are in enterprise B2B sales where our competitors and even internal IT departments really protect their installations. It can be very difficult to ‘break in’ when you’re a startup, and even more difficult to get enterprises to try something new.”
Another challenge was funding. MammothDB needed investment to build on their progress to date. But venture capital is harder to secure in Europe compared to Silicon Valley. To expand their customer based globally and refine their technology, Steve and his team knew they needed a jumpstart.
So MammothDB signed up for the Pioneers Festival in Vienna in the fall of 2014. From there, they learned about and applied to Cisco EIR. MammothDB was selected by Cisco and Pioneers as one of the five startups to join Cisco EIR in Europe from over 360 applicants.
“We were excited to be chosen, but it was a bit overwhelming too,” said Keil. “Cisco is a large, US-based company. We didn’t know what to expect. When you’re the first and in Europe, you have many questions. We didn’t know if we’d get the necessary attention and engagement or how much travel to San Jose would be required. Basically, we had no idea what we had committed our company to over the next six months.”
Thanks to the structure of the Cisco EIR program, they had nothing to fear.
The Opportunity to Collaborate With Cisco
“Cisco is a huge company with numerous divisions and groups working on initiatives related to IoT, analytics and Big Data—many of which are relevant to MammothDB’s technology,” explains Keil. “This was definitely a draw for us and Cisco EIR opened doors for MammothDB to take full advantage of opportunities with Cisco.”
The best part for the MammothDB team was access and feedback. “We were paired with an executive sponsor and mentors who helped us focus and prioritize where to engage first. Working with our mentors was great. There were so many avenues to pursue feedback from seasoned professionals,” said Keil. “No one rejected us for meetings. They were all friendly and helped us find our place.”
And the end result?
“We found numerous opportunities for us to both sell to, and work within, Cisco divisions,” said Keil. “We were able to take our product and integrate with Cisco customers and technology.”
Participation in the EIR program also helped MammothDB address their funding problem. “Since joining the program, we’ve had lots of help getting venture funding,” he added. “The VCs are often not extensively technical, but with Cisco selecting us for the EIR program, it gave us external validation from a respected technology leader in the industry.”
Overall, being a trailblazer in the Cisco EIR Europe program was exactly the jumpstart Keil and his team needed. “We’ve grown from 12 people on our staff to 45,” reflects Keil. “Our success has come from being empowered to take our product and integrate with Cisco customers and Cisco technology. And that represents huge wins for a small company.”
It’s Your Time to Be Part of Something Great
For future startups who are on the fence about joining Cisco EIR, Keil had two words of advice: “Don’t be.”
“Cisco is large, people are busy and you can’t do anything halfheartedly, but it can be done. The Cisco EIR team is helpful, but you also have to put in the effort and time to work with them,” he said. “Think about it like going to university. If you don’t get involved and go to class, you’ll have a mediocre experience. If you go to class, engage with people, do the work, and make yourself available, you get more out of it. This is your time to help promote your company and provide product validation. Find your voice, speak up and go in it to win.”Tags: analytics, B2B, Cisco, entrepreneur, entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurs in Residence, entrepreneurship, Europe, IoT, startups, technology