Think big, start small. The big thinking comes by bringing bright minds with different backgrounds together. It is often at the intersection of these backgrounds that great ideas can be found. From there, it’s all about starting small and being pragmatic.
Said Ouissal is the CEO and Founder of ZEDEDA. Prior to ZEDEDA, Said held executive product management and (technical) sales roles at various infrastructure companies like Ericsson, Juniper Networks, Redback Networks and Violin Memory. Next to his customer engagement experience, Said has worked in engineering and development roles as well for companies such as Lucent, Versatel and Conxion. Said has extensive experience in IP networking (routing, switching and security), telecommunications, cloud, mobile broadband and is inventor of 2 issued patents. Said holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science, is originally from the Netherlands and speaks 5 languages.
Where did the idea for ZEDEDA come from?
I am part of the generation that grew up together with the Internet since its early days, and spent my entire career on it, ranging from building the first Internet backbone networks connecting Europe and North America, the early days of hosting (the predecessor to cloud) and enabling both the fixed Internet (DSL/Cable) and mobile Internet (3G/LTE) roll-outs.
The last 15 years we spent connecting as many humans as possible in the world and I feel privileged to have been part of that effort. I believe the next decade we will not only be connecting every thing that humans build and own, but also we will enable all these things and humans can start to engage with each other in complete new ways, some we don’t even know about today yet and some we have already seen in science fiction movies.
As we connect things to the network, and start running intelligent software on them, it became evident to me that the current approaches on how we manage, deploy and secure applications for this intelligent Internet of Things simply won’t scale and be secure enough for the future.
Upon further reflecting and as we started talking to many other folks in this space, we believe the opportunity is even bigger than we initially thought and that we are at the beginnings of a new wave of computing, called edge computing. Following the footsteps of enterprise computing in the 1980’s and cloud computing in the 2000’s, this wave of computing will need a new stack and approach, and we founded our company to be the pioneer in this new and exciting space.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
As the CEO of a new and dynamic startup, there is no real concept of a typical day. The key thing in order to be productive is to be very focused, which starts first and foremost with setting clear targets and objectives. In addition to working on these objectives along with the team, I spend a significant amount of my time working on the go-to-market side, figuring out which customers and verticals we need to address, learn as much as possible about them and how we can help them to be successful.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Think big, start small. The big thinking comes by bringing bright minds with different backgrounds together. It is often at the intersection of these backgrounds that great ideas can be found. From there, it’s all about starting small and being pragmatic. If the idea is for instance a product feature, implement it in a simple and quick way, and keep iterating and improving it over time as it receives feedback and is used.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I find it fascinating that the cost and footprint of compute (like microprocessors) keeps getting cheaper and smaller. There are now mini-computers available that cost less than $6. The ability to innovate on this technology, and create new solutions and businesses is really exciting.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
Always immediately prioritize everything in both urgency and importance. Focus on the urgent and important tasks first, and make sure to keep track of the non-urgent important things too.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Mine lots of bitcoins.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
As part of the Internet of Things, common belief in the market place is that within the enterprise IT and OT functions will have to converge. OT will develop IT skills and support organizations.
I do not believe this will happen. If cloud computing has taught us anything, its that a well-designed system can remove the complexity of IT and provide it as a service. This allows businesses to focus on revenue impacting solutions, not the IT infrastructure that runs them. People want to share files securely with partners, not design servers that authenticate users and create secure tunnels that can ship the files around. Sales operations want to sell, not assemble a CRM system that’s accessible from anywhere – enter Salesforce.com.
Operations teams and business units will not merge with the IT department.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Assumptions are the mother of all failures. Always keep testing assumptions as circumstances change, and have a healthy culture that enables everyone to challenge each other’s assumptions in a constructive way. This is important in avoiding being blind sighted by changes.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Jack Welch said it in the past, “A players hire A players, B players hire C players. Never compromise on hiring and only hire rockstars.” This means not only hiring the smartest you can find, but also the ones that complement and further strengthen company culture. One way to do this is to make sure is to never hire without a proper vetting and interview process, and never ignore gut feelings. The other way is to think of ‘hiring’ in the broadest sense possible: advisors, consultants, investors and partners.
What is one failure you had and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failures often have a strong component in of not listening enough to my gut. The way to overcome this is to keep listening to the heart, mind and trust my intuition, and to truly reflect on any failures to understand what I could have done better–and apply it in the future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A Moroccan restaurant in the Bay Area. We need more of them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We recently had a big customer meeting at our office, and in order to look more professional we framed a set of ZEDEDA logos and other inspirational pictures. These now serve as a constant reminder to myself and the team of our vision, our ideas and the early and fun days of our company.
What one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack, hands down. Not to mention it’s fun to get thrown back in the old days of IRC.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Peter Thiel’s book “Zero to One.” It is a well written and easy to consume book about building something that does not exist, its challenges and its opportunities. It’s a great
What is your favorite quote?
“You cannot make something better unless it is different.” – Amar Bose.
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