July 31st 2006 was my last day working for MySQL and August 1st I started what later was incorporated Percona with Vadim joining me September 1st as co-founder.
Two years is a significant anniversary for any startup – surviving (and being profitable) for 2 years can be seen as validation of our business model and strategy and we’re quite happy about this.
So what is our strategy ? I left MySQL with idea of building company which will be fair in rewarding their employees for their contribution, in particular engineers which do a lot of heavy lifting in technology companies. I really liked many of Monty’s ideas as he implemented during early years of MySQL (you can see many of these same ideas described in Hacking Companies article). We’re not just like that but we’re very close in spirit which you can describe as lets smart engineers to gather and do cool stuff together.
The second part of our strategy is being fair to the customers and providing them with great service at fair prices. We decided from the start we’re making money as consulting company being for work it takes to deliver service rather than focusing on maximizing leverage by selling software or subscription.
We develop software to be able to provide better services with lower cost for the client. This makes sense because we can help more people and builds efficiency as our competitive advantage.
Third part which is important for us as a founders (and we try to hire people which share our values) is giving back to community. It works as a great marketing vehicle for us but it just feels right. We feel open source software is a great way to give back to community for technology company. We’ve sponsored MMM, Maatkit, Released Innodb Recovery Tools (we probably would have made a lot of money keeping this inhouse, but it just does not feel right to leave people in need without a tool to get data back if they can’t pay), Sponsored some Sphinx development. We also published variety of patches for MySQL. Though our giving back to community does not stop there. On the technical Landscape we try to provide a lot of information via Blog, Forums or Presentations. We also contribute to other worth causes like gathering money for Ivan surgery.
Where do we plan to go ? We’re helping customers building and maintaining high quality applications. Currently our focus around MySQL and surrounding technologies but this is so because it is “pick of the web”. We’re constantly looking at emerging technologies to see what can be used for building large scale web application, which is there core of our interest is. We see what other challenges our customers have and we have consultants joining us with different backgrounds which allows us to provide additional services such as capacity planning, migrations, web layer optimizations, MySQL Customizations/Optimizations etc. We want people having their own great ideas to join us and develop them in entrepreneur friendly atmosphere.
In these two years we’ve grown from 2 person company to company employing over 20 full time employees in Europe and US. We’re still virtual company having no office where people would work.
The MySQL was a great school to show how this is possible.
We’re staying profitable all the time attracting no external money as venture fundings or the loans. This allows us to develop company on our own pace and have no obligations to deliver huge returns to anyone. We believe as consulting company we do not need these to maintain comfortable growth pace without putting undue pressure on our employees and retaining team values.
For us with Vadim the the change was the serious one. As we started delivering high quality services was out main challenge and as engineers this was something we knew pretty well how to do. As the company grew our roles change to include a lot of challenges in organizing administrative sales process, ensuring we’re paid and paying our consultants, managing people and leadership on leading the company. We’re learning a lot as we go and we’re listening to advice of Mentors we can find. We’re also growing team by looking not only for great engineers but also for people with great management and administrative skills.
Yesterday Monty visited us for dinner and I told him it is 2 year anniversary since I left MySQL. He asked us if we’re happy with the choice or have regrets – we have none and looking forward the next two years. Getting your own company up and running is a lot of hard work but is is a lot of fun too.