Meet Innovator of the Week
Co-Founder and CEO of FlowTraq
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
FlowTraq is a network security software company that enables customers to see security-relevant details that cannot be seen with other products. It helps customers find and stop data leakages, hacked systems, and large-scale attacks that bring down internet sites.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
The biggest obstacle is learning to listen to the customer. It is difficult to do, even though it seems so obvious. That isn’t necessarily because the entrepreneur is failing. In large part, the obstacle lies with the customer. For example, when discussing your product with a paying customer, they will often tell you the specific features they would like you to add, soonest. Yet, it is the task of the entrepreneur to figure out what problem they are trying to solve. After all, you, as the innovator, may come up with a much more innovative way than the customer is proposing. Most feature requests are carbon copies of things that your competitors do. Your customers are familiar with these things, and it defines their lexicon. Looking at the underlying challenges, you are given a unique opportunity to solve the same problem in a novel, or much better, way.
As an additional note, I’m specific about “paying” customers. There are always dozens of “might-be-customers” who are willing to provide all the feedback in the world. However, when asked to put money on the table, they only respond with more feature requests. Those are sometimes helpful, but you really ought to judge each opportunity by its value. If they have no skin in the game whether you build the features or not, that value is usually low.
What’s the best advice you have received?
By far the best advice I ever got was, “Use common sense and be brave enough to trust it.” It makes sense; if YOU cannot think through your business and industry, then why do you feel someone else can? Do your own thinking first.
A lot of people have good advice that is based on experience that is completely irrelevant to your line of business. As such, I’ve found that asking for general advice about your specific business will get you general answers that are not applicable to your environment. I frequently ask people for advice, but I try to be very specific in my problem definition. I know I need a specific answer and that there is no silver bullet.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
In today’s Internet age, it is no longer necessary to be located in Silicon Valley, CA. FlowTraq services customers all over the planet, so easy access to three great airports is much more important in terms of location. This allows some of us to live in New Hampshire and enjoy its benefits while still being fully connected to the diverse locations we do business with every day.
What does the future look like for your company?
If I could predict the future I’d be a bookie, not a startup guy. FlowTraq is young and has been growing strongly. I hope to sustain that growth!