As with any startup, the courage and sacrifices necessary to make an endeavor successful are difficult to justify, because the possibility of success is equally balanced with a likelihood of disappointment– and therein lies the dilemma. As such, it isn’t often that one can see their vision come to fruition. And yet, four years after starting Versa, it has become one of the most formidable companies in the SD-WAN and SD-Security landscape.
In 2012, Apurva and I began recognizing the macro-trend developing in which the future of networking would be software-based. Expensive and proprietary hardware was going to become increasingly obsolete in a world that was going progressively digital and cloud-based. This was due to the current model’s complexity, lack of agility, and high total cost of ownership. Independently, we also learned that a few forward-thinking telecom service providers were questioning the status quo and had similar concerns and views of the world. It had been nearly 20 years since the last major innovation around the WAN had occurred; however, usage of the WAN at branch offices had changed substantially. With the urge to solve the pain point, Apurva and I embraced the opportunity for a different kind of company – therefore, we started Versa Networks.
We were building on our past experiences and tackling what we believed would be a fundamentally more difficult technical problem: creating a platform and software architecture that could deliver high- performance and scale while operating predictably and securely in complex multi-tenant deployments. Rather than trying to build NFV technology based on existing software, we were designing an architecture and platform from the ground up. To begin with, we developed SD-WAN and SD-Security as two primary use cases on the software-defined edge platform.
While there were the expected difficulties of building a start-up, a challenge neither Apurva nor I could have been prepared for was within a month of receiving our first round of funding, I was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. Suddenly, Apurva and I were faced with a big problem – we now have funding, but are essentially down a founder; we have offices in California and India with only one person to be in both places. While I spent several integral months recovering from surgeries and complications, Apurva had to essentially start the company on his own. Although I am now healthy, the added complication made an already daunting task more challenging. Despite the setbacks, personal sacrifices, and hardships, we kept our company thriving by persevering in the face of trying circumstances and believing in our innovative idea despite the risks.
As the saying goes, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Over time, we built compelling proof-of-concepts, trial versions, and demos for marquee organizations around the world. It has been a great year for market traction in our technology. The company has won business in the US, Europe, and Asia with some of the largest service providers and enterprises across various verticals including finance, retail, healthcare, government, and more. Now, with hundreds of customers, our sales momentum continues to accelerate globally. Versa’s solution meets the market pain points squarely because of unprecedented demand both from Tier 1 service providers and large distributed enterprises.
Looking back, it is incredibly humbling to see the company grow and prosper from what was once just an idea. Then again, Versa isn’t just a company to me. It is a force that breaks assumptions and creates innovations to propel technology forward. We aren’t making incremental changes to the industry landscape, rather, from the very beginning we have endeavored to achieve paradigm-shifting changes necessary for technology transformation.
Many have helped to make Versa what it is today, and it is because of this unwavering and steadfast support I have never doubted that this “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world” (Margaret Meade). Because at the end of the day, this isn’t about me or Apurva; it is about the team and all that we have done and can continue to do together. These are exceptional minds with years of experience, unique insights, a commanding ability to execute, and an unshakable dedication to creating innovative products. Even when the late nights waned into the wee hours of the morning, we worked tirelessly; it was our common struggle and collective hope for Versa that has allowed us to bear witness to these achievements together. It is only through this team’s dedication and hard work that Versa has reached such heights, and I am so proud to be in their company.
Among the growing group of these thoughtful and committed people, we have added Kelly Ahuja and Pankaj Patel to the leadership team. Together, they bring multiple decades of experience and a proven track record of executive leadership, strategy, and execution in networking and telecommunications. With Versa experiencing immense demand for its SD-WAN and SD-Security solution and the wide-area network market now entering the next phase of explosive growth, there are no better professionals to lead our company than Kelly and Pankaj.
We live in a world where each day allows for explorations in technological advances, for the pursuit of intelligence, and for the never-ending quest to reach for the stars. It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to have captained this ship and to have helped bring Versa to where it is today – a successful platform company for the software-defined edge. As I shift into the role of Chief Development Officer, I look forward to continuing to work with Kelly and Pankaj on this journey.
Of one thing, I am certain, even greater successes lie ahead for Versa!
– “Picture abhi baki hai, mere dost!”
(This film is far from done, my friend!)