It's an exciting time. New company, great prospects, money invested, lawyers signed off the paperwork. Money transferred. What now? Start adding value to the company. It's fun meeting people, promoting the product/service. More customers. More income. Break even. Sell the company, lots of money for everyone. That's the picture Business Angels buy into. But is it the reality? What's the impact if you are not focusing on the exit from day zero?
In 1996 people connected to the internet via modems using a name and password. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) authenticated the name and password using two different protocols which were incompatible (Radius and Tacacs+). Different hardware vendors supported different protocols. Once an ISP chose a vendor they found it extremely difficult to change to another unless they used the same protocol. Initially vendors thought this was great – ISPs were locked in to their solution. Eventually Vendors would find themselves “locked-out” of ISPs because their system couldn’t support the incumbent protocol. In the early days, Cisco was potentially one such vendor.
There’s the opportunity.
The plan was to write some software that would act as an intermediary that could communicate using either protocol. Even better, the software would talk to a large number of other public and proprietary databases holding the name and password of users. Any ISP with EzyACS could buy systems from any hardware vendor confident that they would work. Any vendor that owned this solution would be able to sell their hardware anywhere (and prevent other vendors doing the same).
DeeZee was created to develop this software solution. I designed and architected the software that became EzyACS. My co-founder managed customer relations and sales. The company had five developers and one customer (Cable and Wireless) who demonstrated that the product worked when the minimally viable product (MVP) was released.
Not only was EzyACS the first intermediary software; it was also the first to manage secure communication channels for companies; one of the first to be configured solely by a web browser; and flexible enough to run on different operating systems on different hardware.
Just ten months after the MVP was released Cisco Systems Inc. bought it. They continued to develop the software and shipped it with each router they sold.