Most information technology startups that come into the U.S. market head by default for Silicon Valley, so Comtrade Software turned some heads this fall when it chose to plant its flag in Boston.
But to hear Simon Taylor – Comtrade Software’s 37-year-old president – tell it, the decision made practical sense. Comtrade’s headquarters and most of its 2,000 employees are based in Slovenia, a tiny country of just 2 million people that was previously part of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Having a time difference of six hours, rather than nine, between Slovenia and Boston means “we do a lot of work on the same business day,” he said in an interview on theCUBE. “And while it may sound silly, the extra six hours of airplane rides to the West Coast means people are more tired when they arrive and less likely to visit.”
Comtrade hopes that practical thinking like that will quickly put it on the map in a market where it already has more than 2,000 customers but almost no name recognition. You might be surprised to learn that the company has actually been around for 25 years. It’s one of the largest employers in Slovenia, but the privately held firm has never raised venture capital or done much marketing outside of Europe.
Comtrade Software did business in the U.S. for years as a vendor of management tools for Citrix Systems Inc. software. Citrix acquired that business early this year, and Comtrade is now refocusing on the market for monitoring hyper-converged systems from Nutanix Inc.
“We really like the hyper-converged industry. We think simplifying the data center is essential,” Taylor said. He thinks focus is critical to success in the crowded U.S. market. “Just building a brand in the U.S. is a daunting task,” he said. “We need to be the best in the world at something, and for us that’s backup and monitoring.”
Currently, monitoring is all the company does, but expect that to change in 2017 when Comtrade Software rolls out between six and 10 new products, extending its range to backup and data protection and doubling down on its Nutanix focus. “We like Nutanix’s enterprise cloud,” Taylor said. “The [Nutanix] management team has a vision for how to extend hyper-converged and be disruptive in the data center.”
Having its principal development team in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana brings Comtrade Software advantages beyond Eastern Europe’s lower cost structure. “This is a country where the average student does calculus in the eighth or ninth grade,” Taylor said. “Being an engineer there is equivalent to being a doctor or lawyer here.” The company’s 95 percent employee retention rate is also something U.S. competitors can’t hope to match.
A tight relationship with Nutanix through its Elevate Technology Alliance Program and a strong channel focus anchor Comtrade’s domestic strategy. More than 100 channel partners are already selling its products, and Taylor believes the aggressive 2017 rollout schedule will make a splash in a hyper-converged market that shows no signs of slowing. “The great thing about Nutanix is that they’ve [built their hyper-converged business] from the ground up,” he said. “They’re incredibly focused on building their ecosystem, and that makes them fun to work with.”
Although the U.S. company is setting up offices across the country – including Silicon Valley – Taylor said he has no second thoughts about basing the headquarters in Boston. “Boston is about winning,” he said. “Silicon Valley have a thriving startup culture, but if you are well-established company that’s funded and has been around for 25 years, you want a place that understands technology, has access to amazing talent and is easy to reach.”
Here’s the full video interview: