Every morning before the day start I write down a list of things needing to get done for the day. This sets my day in motion and helps me frame up everything needing to get done and where to focus my energy. As an entrepreneur you have to wear a lot of hats and it’s so easy to get distracted or bogged down in minutia.
Daren Klum is a serial entrepreneur that has a passion for developing ground breaking new technology and getting that technology to the marketplace. Daren is currently the CEO of a digital security and data delivery company called CRAM: www.cramworld.com. The CRAM platformis the only way to truly eliminate the piracy, hacking and data leakage problem plaguing the digital world. The technology he patented and helped perfect has found application in the entertainment, legal, medical, military and financial markets. CRAM was recognizedas one of the top startups at the 2012 Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.
Prior to CRAM Daren founded the revolutionary computer company called LiquidCool Solutions (f/k/a Hardcore Computer) www.liquidcoolsolutions.com. Daren conceived the initial concepts and successfully launched the most cutting edge computers to hit the market since the advent of the PC. His company’s first product The Reactorachieved global praise, the Detonator workstation was named fastest workstation on the planet and the award winning LiquidBlade Server was named top datacenter innovation by Datacenter Insights. His “total liquid submersion” cooling technology is at the heart of the company’s offering and is the future of all datacenter coolingaround the world offering a 40% reduction in energy savings over air cooled datacenters. LiquidCoolSolutions is a venture backed company that is rapidly growing.
Prior to Daren’s entrepreneurial pursuits he had a successful career in corporate America working for industry leading companies like ABC/Disney Networks, Gartner, Digital River, Sprint and Time Warner Telecom. He held a diverse range of roles that span technology strategy, technology development, corporatefinance, marketing and business development.
Daren is a frequent speaker at major industry events like the Consumer Electronics Show, MinneDemo and is a guest speaker at the University of St. Thomas College of Business. Daren Klum attended Brown College where he received an A.A. Degree in Broadcasting, he went on to attend Minnesota State University for two years pursuing a B.S. Degree in Finance and transferred to the University of Minnesota to complete a B.S. Degree in Communications.
What are you working on right now?
We are refining the design of our application. With a key focus on simplification innovation to cut out all the unnecessary things needed to streamline user experience. As Apple has proved – design matters.
Where did the idea for CRAM come from?
The idea for CRAM came when we started thinking about data and how it was getting hacked. It became clear there was a growing need to create “trusted” networks where a company could bypass the Internet all together and move entire datacenters worth of data. With the advent of new drive technology and in a couple years drives with capacities exceeding 1 petabyte it became clear the future was going to be affordable high-capacity storage. So we patented how you would secure the high capacity drives, how you would move them bypassing the Internet and how you would securely distribute content once that data lands at the destination (personal cloud technology).
CRAM’s second big idea came when we started thinking about how to prevent people from hacking the cloud, without restricting the ubiquity of the cloud. CRAM’s new cloud security and delivery solution is going to transform the data industry.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day for me is a total blur and generally starts around 5:30 to 6am and ends at 1am. My day is filled generally with investor meetings, partner meetings, technical meetings, writing patents, tinkering on new technology and working on various business dealings. There is no shortage of phone calls and emails that fill the day.I have found for whatever reason my best work happens late at night so I often find myself behind the keyboard, with some ambient music hacking away on my computer.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To me whenever I’m looking for a new idea I look for big problems. Not just little size problems, or incremental change problems but big problems. The kind of problems that require a cure and have a massive market need. For instance, when I created LiquidCool Solutions (f/k/a Hardcore Computer) the problem was the cooling problem of servers in datacenters. I saw the costly way we were cooling datacenters using air-conditioning and said “there has to be a better way.” So I started with a problem, researched the solutions and invented the submersion of electronics in liquid to keep them cool. This innovation has the potential to cut datacenter energy consumption by 40% or more while cutting the costs to the company by reducing footprint, cooling costs and new equipment. The environmental impact on this 40% improvement is astounding as datacenters currently account for more than 2% of all energy consumed in the world. That’s staggering!
For anyone looking to bring an idea to life there is really a process. The process involved requires finding a big problem, getting in front of customers before you start to see if they will buy your idea, research the solution, building a team to solve the problem, prototyping the solution and then get the solution into the market quickly.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
A trend I’m paying close attention to right now is BIG DATA. I think it’s the biggest market coming down the pipe and fortunes will be won / lost in this area. In fact, research has shown that BIG DATA will surpass total IT spending in the near future. It’s expected to grow into a $70 billion dollar market. I’m placing my bets on the securing of BIG DATA and creating the new tools to analyze the data.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I ever had was landscaping in Naples Florida. What made it the worse job was the sheer enormity of some of our landscape projects. We had some clients with 7 miles of edging alone, endless hedgerows that had to be cut to perfection and of course the vegetation that had to be meticulously maintained. Sometimes the jobs we had in front of us seemed so large there was no way we could possibly get it done. This sounds like some of my technology development efforts. Yet, the valuable lesson I learned is no matter how overwhelming something may seem if you just do the work, put your head down and take off bite sized chunks you can accomplish anything in life. You just have to do it.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
It’s always easy to look back and say “I wish I would have done this differently.” For me if I had the chance to do it over again I would have recognized getting in front of customers’ needs to happen on day one, not year three. The earlier you start talking to customers, learning what they want, how they want it, what they will pay the better. Mainly because nothing happens until something sells. So many forget that simple point and that was a point I missed early in my career.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every morning before the day start I write down a list of things needing to get done for the day. This sets my day in motion and helps me frame up everything needing to get done and where to focus my energy. As an entrepreneur you have to wear a lot of hats and it’s so easy to get distracted or bogged down in minutia.In fact, I know a lot of CEO’s that play office. This term means having endless meetings, looking busy and doing things that are non-revenue generating. Playing office is the act of running a business without creating any tangible results. This sadly happens far more often than many might admit.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A big failure I had as an entrepreneur is not listening to my gut. In my first start-up my gut would tell me things about people, about our product and where things were heading with the market. If I had only listened to my gut I would have saved so much time and so much money. I overcame this issue by starting to listen to my gut, and having more confidence in my own decision making. You do not always need consensus to make decisions in a startup.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A great business I would love to see someone start is helping garage sales go online in a fast and affordable way. Ebay is certainly the largest posting site for your used stuff but it’s not an online garage sale. I would love to see someone make a site that is built around a mobile device. So all you need to do is setup your garage sale at home, take a pictures of items you want to sell, give the items prices and post it online. Very similar to posting pictures in Facebook. Then you can browse by area both where to visit the Garage sale or you can buy the item online. So there you go web entrepreneur – please make this!!!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
In my mind the greatest problem facing this world is a lack of education. For our planet to succeed it’s imperative that we find new ways to share our knowledge around the world. I believe knowledge can prevent wars, I believe knowledge help us overcome differences and I believe knowledge can change places like Africa, Somalia and some of the poorest places on this earth. We need a better way to connect to the people without access to information and knowledge. My company CRAM ultimately has the ability to move large catalogs of content anywhere in the world regardless of Internet. My goal is to one day get knowledge into the hands of the world. Breaking down the walled gardens of knowledge from our major colleges and Universities. If we spread knowledge this world can only get better.
Tell us a secret.
Secrets need to remain exactly that – secrets!
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
My favorite online tool is LinkedIn. There is no better way to network, get business news and share information. It’s a fabulous application. Facebook is a close second and is without question the best social application made. The third favorite is Ted.com. The amount of knowledge and innovative thought in that website is truly mind-blowing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Your Network is your Net Worth” is the best book I have read in quite some time. Largely because it provides you a look into why some people succeed while others do not. It’s all who you know. Also, my sister Porter Gale wrote the book and her candidness in the book speaks to the incredible person she is.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Bill Gates: I truly admire Bill Gates and what he’s done both for the field I love but also for humanity. His relentless pursuit to deal with global issues is something that will define his legacy as one of the most prolific CEO’s of all time. He embodies a lot of the qualities in a CEO that I want to become. Smart, tenacious, hardworking, philanthropic and centered on family. If you follow him on Twitter you are greeted with updates on all the things he’s doing to help make this world a better place.
Eric Ries: He is the genius behind the “Lean Startup” movement and the author of the blog “Startup Lessons Learned.”
Chris Dixon: He’s one of my favorite strategic minds in the high-tech world and his insight is unflappable. He’s also an angel investor so he looks at things from both the perspective of the entrepreneur but also the person investing.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
A friend of mine Colleen knows I’m not an apple fan. Well, she sent me a picture of the outlet in her home with nothing but iPlugs in the wall hinting to the fact now that my daughter has an iPhone we will become an iFamily. I couldn’t stop laughing.
Who is your hero?
My hero is Joe. Joe is a disabled Vietnam veteran that doesn’t have a home, lives on the streets of Manhattan, and isn’t connected to family and pans for money. A friend of mine passes by Joe daily, gives him loose change and he’s always appreciative. One day Joe wasn’t sitting at his usual corner and he wasn’t seen for a week after Hurricane Sandy. One day Joe showed back up and my friend asked “where have you been Joe. I was so worried about you.” Joe’s reply – “I was helping the Sandy relief effort but I figured I needed to get back on the streets because I’m getting hungry. I really need money, can you spare some change.” Joe – you are my hero. A man with nothing helping those with everything.
Daren Klum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daren.klum
Daren Klum on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/daren-klum/2/62a/753
CRAM Worldwide on Twitter: @cramworldwide
Daren Klum on Ted.com: http://www.ted.com/profiles/337189