Episode 131 / August 23, 2021

Hasura Founder on Building For Developers ft. Tanmai Gopal

54 min

Episode 131 / August 23, 2021

Hasura Founder on Building For Developers ft. Tanmai Gopal

54 min
Listen on

Data access for App development for startups and enterprise is very complex and has a lot of security concerns. It gets even worse when you plan to scale the product.

This has vastly changed since Hasura came into existence. Founded by the guest of our today’s episode, Tanmai Gopal, Hasura provides an open-source engine for developers to streamline data access in a secure and scalable way to make app developments easier.

Started in 2018, it has seen adoption from thousands of developers across fast-growing startups and Fortune 500 companies.

During the podcast, Tanmai shares with us how they ideated Hasura as an open-source engine, and when did they realize the right opportunity to monetize it by launching a commercial model.

Notes –

01:22 – Hasura in layman’s term

03:56 – Early childhood and graduating from IIT Madras

10:21 – “Until you build a product and take it to market, you actually don’t know anything.”

13:11 – Launching Hasura as an open-source engine; 2 Mn+ downloads in first year & 100 Mn+ downloads in the second year

14:34 – Changing perspective from being bootstrapped to raising VC funding

21:23 – Shifting from free open-source to a commercial model

25:38 – Milestone around Mission Critical Adoption

34:02 – GTM strategy – Free adoption followed by commercial conversion

38:50 – Hiring for the Non-dev team

41:33 – His advice to entrepreneurs building open-source products


Read the full transcript here:



Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:00

Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia, welcome to the 100x entrepreneur podcast. Today I have with me Tanmai Gopal, founder of Hasura. If you are a developer, you would have definitely heard of Hasura. So, I would now hand over the mic to Tanmai to share with us what hasura is, in layman terms, not developer terms here, and how it helping companies. And then, you know, I’ll probe him through his journey.


Tanmai Gopal 00:29

Sounds awesome. Thanks. Thanks a lot for having me here Sid and nice to meet everybody. Yes, I’m Tanmai and the CEO and co-founder of Hasura. Hasura is a data access piece of kind of data access infrastructure, to kind of describe it as simply as possible, you know, if you’re building an application, or an API, typically have to build a back-end API service, which is a lot of repetitive work, and is, you know, an operationally kind of challenging thing to, you know, operate and scale and evolve, and have sort of kind of automates that piece of your stack. And so, what that means is that, you know, people are kind of able to build production rate applications and API’s much faster, because this critical portion of their stack has kind of been automated away by us. So, we kind of, you know, offer data access to the service. This is especially relevant today, because, you know, in the entire ecosystem, we see this kind of massive push towards people who are building more and more applications, right, whether horizontal or vertical. You know, we see a lot of enterprise innovation, where teams inside and price modernizing their application as they’re building new applications. And of course, the value of data in the amount of data is continuously exploding. And people are starting to realize the value of the data that they have, as well. And especially in that context, to kind of mobilize that data to use that data to build something, you need an API layer, right, and that API layer is a critical part of being able to unlock the value of the data. And that’s kind of where we sort of comes in and says, hey, we automate this piece for you. So that you can focus on your data, you can focus on your domain logic, you can focus on the user facing application that you’re building, and this kind of piece in the middle gets entirely automated. So that’s kind of where Hasura operates. The core of hasura is an open-source project that we created in 2018. And last year, we launched kind of our commercial versions of the project, we launched a on camp version and a managed cloud service called Cloud. So that’s kind of that’s, that’s kind of where and what has risen. Hopefully that makes sense.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 02:39

And we would like to explore your journey before Hasura, right, if you can, of course, you know, just give a glimpse of your childhood, what were your passions where you grew up? What led you into, you know, development, and then being a product geek, you are?


Tanmai Gopal 03:01

Wow, that’s, I thought you were going to ask me a few years before I started Hasura. And, I grew up all over the all over the state. And we’re not arithmetic but math, algebra, geometry and stuff like that. Also, not just arithmetic in my and so, you know, I wanted to kind of get into pure sciences, and when my parents said that, you know, IIT is a better place from a lot of points of view, and I was like, I don’t know better, so sure. And so and so then I kind of start preparing for jee, I really enjoyed that phase of my life, you know, working with working with people who are extremely good at what they do. And kind of being in a peer group that was massively intellectually enriching. During that time, I remember going for a few medical Olympiad camps and stuff like that. just insanely fun. the VLSI side of things, I guess, in a sense, right, I stayed away from that, that didn’t appeal to me so much, to kind of did a bunch of lot, did a bunch of different things across different areas in NCS. And, and then, you know, I did my master’s project, with some research work in computer vision and machine learning, did a work to Microsoft Research, did a bunch of research projects myself, while I was there. And at that time, I was also kind of thinking that i am going to research. But then through kind of some of my formative periods and at university, what really appealed to me was the idea of kind of creating something then after that, right to kind of apply this knowledge, right into real world ideas and to see if it really holds, right, is this actually valid? These concepts, right, can we actually create these, these 10x jumps in productivity. And so that’s kind of what I wanted to do so, I did not sit for placements after university, I decided to just start my own consulting firm, to get a sense of what problems exist in industry, because I had a decent sense of what kind of the theory around different things was. And as I transitioned my work over to the DRDO, after my masters were about to do from DRDO and then, and then I kind of moved into just consulting myself. And for the first year or so I just did consulting, I did lots of different kinds of projects, you know, especially in the in human and machine learning data, modern software, engineering, big data kind of spaces that were hot around the time, right. And, and then I met my co-founder, she had gone through a similar journey. She started computational biology, her work from many years ago, published in Nature, she was also a little frustrated with the search space. And we said, working together on saying that, you know what, let’s just let’s just build something and take it to market just to see what the dynamics of taking a building a product and taking it out there. I think, I think that that was like a very important experience. Because until you build a product and take it to market, you actually don’t know anything. Nothing matters, how you do stuff, what you know, etc., etc. Nothing matters till you have the sense of what it takes to build a product and just take that product to market. Right, that feeling and the way that you interact with your users is a very important experience. And I wish I had done a lot more of that in university right. I wish I’d spent a lot of my free time just building products, right. And even if it doesn’t work doesn’t matter. We’re just building products and, and letting users use them and, and understand how users get delighted with And, and so we did that, right, we built a few products, and they caught on. And we realized that, you know, this is now what we want to do. For those technically minded of you, it was kind of like basically taking the front-end part of a database engine and bringing that to the application layer. It was really weird, counterintuitive idea, right. And so, we said, you know, we’ll build this ourselves. And we put together consulting firm, with about 80 people, and the small platform team that was kind of working on this part of the product. And our consulting folks would go and the consulting team would kind of use this product with our customers to build stuff for them, we kind of matured the tech in the platform that we were building internally, and then it kind of got to a degree of maturity. And you know, we were very naive, right? We would like know, we’d be able to do this without any funding, we bootstrap our way to whatever. And then we realize that it’s just it’s, it’s a suboptimal use of our time, because we’re not able to kind of focus on the product as much. And so, we kind of went through this journey where we shut down the consulting firm, we took our tech, we raise VC, and, and then, you know, soon after raising, we realized, we kind of always had this feeling that this is a very open-source piece of technology, or kind of would benefit with an open-source kind of community, because it’s such a critical part of your stack. And most critical parts of your application stack have to be open source today for various reasons. And, and so we kind of launched as an open-source product in project in 2018. And, you know, kind of went viral after that, we went, we did 2 million downloads in the first year, 100 million downloads the second year on track for adding another 300 million this year, with the fastest open-source graph qL project over the last two years since we launched a lot of great enterprise traction that we kind of organically got from the product as well. So that’s kind of that’s kind of been the journey so far. And, you know, hopefully that paints a little bit of a picture of how things can be


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 12:43

for the first four years. Just to summarize for, you know, everyone, you ran a consulting firm, right tech consulting firm, which helps clients with not just development, but complex tech problems, also.


Tanmai Gopal 13:00

Correct. Correct, primarily, kind of application modernization efforts that were happening, right. So we kind of jumped in there, we were very early in the Kubernetes ecosystem, the Docker ecosystem, and all those changes that were happening around the time. So, we kind of we were the only people who understood that. And, and so we were one of the few people in the world who understood that. So we kind of use that to help some of the largest companies in the world, make their kind of application modernization journey happens, all right, and kind of really understand that data access piece.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:29

And, once you shut down your consulting firm, you went full time into Hasura, and which was an open-source project. That means that really, you couldn’t get any income from it to sustain.


Tanmai Gopal 13:42

Correct, right. So, we raise VC first. Right So we raised VC first,


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:47

how did you approach VC, right? you have been, you know, the DNA of a bootstrap founder. For four years, it’s difficult to change into a venture funded founder. Because so how did you approach VCs? reasons?


Tanmai Gopal 14:11

I think, yeah, I think I’m not, I’m not dogmatic about anything. you know, being able to birth this technology and this product into the world, and create a tremendous amount of value capture some of that business value. That’s really what I wanted to do. Right? That’s really what our core team, what my co-founders, my founding team, the early folks wanted to do. That’s actually it. Everything else is implementation detail. Right? And so, you know, we’re not dogmatic about anything. Right. We’re just kind of dogmatic about this goal that we have and finding the best people that we can to the product, right, and my co-founder Arushi, she took a call, and she said, this is this is tough this is we’re wasting a lot of time. understand this journey, right? And, and who will be able to kind of align with us in what we want. Right? So, through that kind of VC fundraising process, etc. The initial the first fundraise is always rather hard for, you know, first time founding team, especially for our kind of product. we never compromised on what it is the virtually doing. Right? We were very honest about what we wanted to do and what we were truly doing. So, we never added on a business model where there wasn’t any, we’re very clear about the fact that listen, what we’re doing is a very fundamental jump in productivity for people. Once it gets out, once, once this adoption, the place that we sit in the stack, there’s enough ways to capture value, how we capture value, we’ll figure it out what the business model will be, we’ll figure it out. But at this point of time, what we do need to do is to kind of work this technology as a product into the world, right? And we need to invest in its adoption. And we never deviated from that. Right? Which is why fundraising in the initial stages was hard in India, because that kind of a mindset is not easy to, to get in kind of the Indian ecosystem. Right. It’s not mature enough in for these kinds of companies. And, and, and so, you know, it was when we kind of partnered with Nikhil and Samir they, they were kind of people with, you know, from conversation to end, it was like a two-week process. It wasn’t longer than that, because they were people could kind of see this space before, who had a feel for what we were doing, and got a feel for the space. And so, we just kept, right. And, and, and I know when we were kind of working on who to partner with the just went really well. Of course, having them around the table in those initial stages was amazing, because they gave us the time and space to figure out what the best way to, you know, kind of take this to market is or take this to the communities. And so that’s kind of what that initial stage was like,


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:52

and how much time it took you to raise the first $1.6 million. That’s the seed you raise, right?


Tanmai Gopal 17:59

Yeah, I think we were talking it took us about it took us about two, two months, I would say slightly more than two months, maybe two to three months, actually. Yeah.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 18:13

And how did you find Nikhil? He’s based in Singapore; you will be as in Bangalore?


Tanmai Gopal 18:18

Oh, yeah. Because We’ve done a developer community thing in Singapore, which, which Nikhil attended. And so, I think there was an event or a booth or something with where we’d kind of first met. That was very interesting. It was just total coincidence.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 18:36

And the day you met them; you close the round in two weeks kind of timeframe.


Tanmai Gopal 18:41

Yeah. So, from meeting them, and we met them a little while ago, not sure when the timing was. But Nikhil kept in touch. And then as soon as we kind of went to fundraising, and if he heard about it was like, hey, we should we should do this. Because initially, we were kind of only going to our network, right? And then kind of as we realized that people who have a sense of the space and people who have conviction of the space are more important than anything else. And Nikhil had a sense for it. And so, Nikhil kind of started that. And then, you know, Nikhil introduced us to Samir at Nexus. And we have kept with Nexus well with Samir before that. So, you know, and then, it took which is two weeks


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:25

and how much time it took Nexus to take the call


Tanmai Gopal 19:32

It was about two weeks.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:34

And I think in the most recent round of 25 million lightspeed US came in.


Tanmai Gopal 19:40

Yeah. Yeah.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:41

And we have to show please go ahead. Sorry. I thought I was asking. When did you start monetization during this journey you mentioned in the last year, last year,


Tanmai Gopal 19:59

sometime last year. So, we were open source for 2018 to 2019, to 2019, to 2020 and 2020, mid That’s kind of started, I think we were, when lightspeed came on, we were just, maybe a month or so into our first monetization efforts, by the end of last year, is when we kind of probably had our products, our commercial products available at a degree of maturity, where monetization start happening


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 20:39

And can you share about the business model of Hasura?


Tanmai Gopal 20:42

Sure. So um, you know, the, But the idea is that so the first thing is, you know, and why is open source important, etc., etc., right? So, you kind of go through those questions and what not, and then you kind of resolve this, you kind of end up with a business model that works for you. Now, the reason why I say that we have kind of worked through a different set of dimensions, because what I’m going to say, is not the way it should be done, or not the way that it works for everybody. Right, it depends a lot on kind of what your open-source project is, the number of successful open source, commercial companies are not too many in the world. It’s not a, it’s not a SAAS playbook. It’s not as well-known as a SAAS playbook, it’s very different. So, it’s very different. And so, you know, whatever I say, please take that with a pinch of salt. But what kind of work for us was, you know, this, this third wave of open-source kind of monetization that we see, where the idea is that the, the API’s that developers use on the product is the same, the core of the product, right, which provides the developer value to the practitioner, is the same throughout our open source and commercial versions. The commercial version, though, comes with enhancements and value add, especially in the critical path, that adds a tremendous amount of value to the operational folks and to the folks who own the business of the product, not the folks tasked with the building of the product, right. And so that kind of becomes a separation between this what is what goes into open source, what goes into commercial. Now, the commercial model itself in terms of the business model around it, there are two. So one is that we have a kind of enterprise license, which is an annual recurring license. And then there is a SAAS version, which is a managed cloud offering, right, which is kind of like Mongo cloud, or confluent, cloud or cloud, where we run the infrastructure for you on our cloud service. And so those are kind of tools. So, one is kind of, you know, enterprise software, annual subscription. The other is SAAS, or other IAS, right infrastructure service that you might have pay for pay, pay as you go, you, you, you pay with kind of a usage or consumption-based billing. And that’s kind of how we price the cloud version.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 23:22

Can you share the different milestone and if possible, share the current ARR of Hasura?


Tanmai Gopal 23:29

Sure, I can’t share the current ARR, of course, but I can share a milestone. So, I would say that the milestone was, so for an open-source company, right. And Samir has a really nice way of putting this and he calls it you, you go from kind of you first have to get project community fit. And then after that you move towards product market fit. So, it’s like building two companies. So, the first is that you get kind of what is called Project community fit, which is that the community really likes your project, and they see tremendous amount of value in it. Right. So that’s kind of the first milestone. The second milestone, then, is to figure out the commercial version of the monetization aspect of that, which is the product market fit element. Right. So those are kind of the two stages. The first part of our stage was kind of achieving project community fit. The second part, which started happening around the time of our series B and now was crossing that product market fit, right, and now we kind of get into the kind of GTM scaling aspect of the company. Right. So those I think, would be the three kinds of main ways to think about Who are you people? Like what is the what is the, you know, is there a commercial version to support like, what is what is happening. And so that was that was a major checkpoint, because that was what we were looking for. We needed that mission critical adoption, to then then actually start work on the commercial version of the product. Till then we decided to not do any work on the commercial side of the product, we went to wait till we started seeing mission critical adoption, where Hasura was part of an application stack where the application and the data itself was very valuable. Right, only then does it make sense to for us with our kind of product to start monetizing. And so that happened about a year into the open-source project release when we realize that okay, it’s great. We’re seeing mission critical adoption. And so, then we spent time starting to build out the commercial versions, and cleaning out our kind of thesis around separation of open-source value to commercial value, and making sure that we’re doing right by the community and being honest with our community, our open-source community, we don’t treat the open-source community like a hack, right? It’s very important to us. So, it’s very, it’s very genuinely what we feel, and extremely important to us. So, so how, so you know, how we separate that out how we do right by our community, how we do right by the business and ensure that, you know, we are setting kind of the foundation for building a massive company. especially the cloud version of our product. And, and then, and now we’re kind of going to enter the fourth stage, which is, you know, scaling GTM. So, so that’s kind of how I break it down. Does that? Does that make sense?


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 26:40

Yes, yes. And I believe, you know, based on my research, you’re inching towards a $10 million ARR mark, so you don’t need to comment on it.


Tanmai Gopal 26:49

Ha-ha. No comments.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 26:53

And I think, you know, based on my belief is that, you know, in 2022, Hasura will be a unicorn.


Tanmai Gopal 27:03

Again, no, no, no comments. on it, you if these aspects. I mean, I, all I say is, we are extremely good, extremely capital efficient, we have the foundation, the only strong community a really strong business, our, our, our runway, from the beginning till now has always been many years away. It’s so fortunate lucky to kind of be there. So all this gives us enough time and space to innovate and to build, you know, both the business and build the product and build the company. So good, good, good place to be in rapid growth. But what the market sees and what happens as it happens,


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 27:50

I think postman and Hasura both have very similar journeys, right, would you and Abhinav from Postman. And I think the number of users of you and postman would also be similar at this stage of life?


Tanmai Gopal 28:06

Well, I’m at the current stage. We are I mean, you know, postman is, of course, a few years ahead of where we are, but I would say, your application goes down. Right? So, there’s a different set of constraints. And there’s a different kind of monetization that emerges for those kinds of tools, which is very different from the kind of user adoption and monetization funnel, that design time tools have. And again, it’s not like one is better than the other. They’re both extremely good. And they’ve worked extremely hard in their own ways. And both extreme foundations both can lay the foundations of extremely massive companies. And they’re different in their own kind of different ways. But they’re going to fundamentally different from that aspect. So outside in it kind of seems like, yes, they’ve told Yes, Dev tool, but actually, it’s not right, actually, it’s very different. It’s similar, but also very different.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 30:39

Well, I was competing from a user point of view, right. You have currently, let’s say 400 million users.


Tanmai Gopal 30:46

Right, right. Oh, well, I think I think, again, for open-source infrastructure, the correlation to users and downloads is a little bit harder to say. Right? Because so that’s not it’s that’s not the it’s again, not apples to apples there. Yeah, for? So. So that wouldn’t be that wouldn’t be a metric that we would look at. We don’t look at number of users as a metric. We look at number of projects, right, like how many projects are being deployed? That is a metric for us. And that metric is a meaningful metric, if that project is mission critical, right, the project being built by a developer, that is kind of building a side project or a hobby project is very different from a developer using it for, you know, a critical path using a production application on a large-scale listing application. So, there’s many different grades of it. So those are kind of metrics that matter to us. Not the number of users. That’s not talking. But I think, yeah, if you normalize things, I would say that, and you correct it for stage, I would say maybe it’s sort of similar.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 31:56

Does that make sense? Yes, yes? And if you can share the current, the team’s strengths at Hasura. And what’s the division? Oh,


Tanmai Gopal 32:06

yeah, we’re about 80ish people and we’re, after raising. And, and so now, the, just before the pandemic, even, we kind of went entirely distributed. So, the 80 people that we have are kind of spread all over the world from SF and Los Angeles to Melbourne was 20 hours of time zone. We have folks in the Americas. you will be back. And the spread is at its engineering, marketing community. And so, it’s kind of pretty spread out across the globe. We are, I was at the team is kind of against structured into what you would expect, sales, customer success, product, engineering, community in marketing. So that’s kind of the rough split. The largest is, of course, engineering, which is slightly more than 50 people. product, which I lead, which is about five people, customer success, which is about another five people sales, which is three people, community marketing, which is stats roughly, though, that’s roughly the game script.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 33:26

And how do you think about Gtm? Like, what are processes and mechanisms you have created for GTM?


Tanmai Gopal 33:39

that’s a good question. Um, so because it’s kind of community led and bottoms applied, the way we think about it is, we think about adoption, followed by commercial conversion. So, the community and marketing team needs the thrust of the adoption within the community. Right. And once adoption happens, our sales seam has central BOC on the buy decision. And that’s kind of when they purchase or sort of right. And then the customer success team helps with renewal and expansion. So that’s kind of that’s kind of the rough, commercial funnel. And of course, there’s people and functions at the right stages of that to drive either awareness to drive conversions to help POCs. Right. So, there’s people at the right stages. But the thrust is entirely product, right?


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 35:38

So, for example, if my understanding is right, if hasura is being deployed in enterprise applications, and the production, then your team reaches out them to for commercial application, right?


Tanmai Gopal 35:53

Yeah, usually, our users reach out to us directly. We don’t reach out to them; they usually reach out to us directly. They’re already using us. And they reach out, they are aware of the commercial products they reach out to us.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 36:05

And what are the efforts on the market awareness that you do besides the community? Is there a active marketing team?


Tanmai Gopal 36:13

it’s usually it’s actually almost, almost entirely very community shaped. So, we do lots of webinars, we do events, we do a lot of content. But it’s all kind of geared towards the practitioner. The community is kind of geared towards the user, which is for us developers. So, it’s primarily driven by that. It’s those are, those are mostly the marketing folks, right? And instrumenting, all of that, to see where people are coming from if you’re attracting the right kind of people, if we’re attracting the right kind of use cases, right? So, there’s a lot of data that we kind of use to understand which parts of the community we’re working with, whether it’s successful, whether it’s not successful, right? Where our conversions based, what is a good source of conversions, right? What is a good source of production user, right? What is kind of the value prop that’s resonating with certain communities, or certain niche communities. So, there’s a fair amount of instrumentation that happens there. But it’s mostly geared towards the lenses basically community, the lenses, the practitioner.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 37:22

And my next question is, right, who is your sponsor? When an enterprise decides to go for a commercial applicant by a commercial application of Hasura? Yeah, so that was the


Tanmai Gopal 37:38

Yeah, it ends up being somebody in the engineering. All right, it’s a similar set of people who sign off on saying, we use AWS for a cloud set of people who choose to sign off on a purchase of a cloud vendor or the purchase of a database vendor, the purchase of any infrastructure, right? So, the infrastructure budget is where it comes out of, so whoever owns that, or co owns, that is technically responsible


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 38:01

for good. And I think most of your hiring must also be from the community because you know, who is building what projects, so you’re hiring on the dev side is also very much community driven, right? What about non dev?


Tanmai Gopal 38:17

Yeah, Favorable that a community driven on the Non side dev side, also, it’s increasingly Well, not community driven. But there’s a lot of community awareness, a lot of people that we come across are already kind of aware of us, or have worked with other teams have used it already, and stuff like that. and which is why I’ve been in the US helps a lot. Because there’s enough people have seen these kinds of journeys before, for example, a head of engineering at firstly can be viewed. So, she’s seen a lot of kind of that infrastructure side of space. So, she’s the right kind of engineering leader for us. Similarly, who’s our head of sales has done a lot of work with open-source companies before an open source to commercial monetization. So again, kind of very relevant person, right? When you think about product marketing, or community, we think about even product people for me and the product team a little bit later. People who’ve kind of been in that space before are very, very, very useful for us.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 39:31

If I have to ask you, right, did you have mentors to build out the you know, the, the entire journey, or it was through a series of making your own mistakes learning from them? Because what I’m trying to understand is, is there a template which can be used for entrepreneurs building for open source, like some raw structure there?


Tanmai Gopal 39:55

That’s a good it’s a very good question. So, I have slightly controversial points, when it comes to when it comes to things like this. I think I think what is important is, when I think about open source, in particular, I won’t talk too much about dev tools in general, because I’m not super from a VC perspective, to think about a company that is following a playbook, sure there’s a playbook, there’s a project market fit this product market fit, right, you need a certain community emotion, you need a monetizable product, you need conversion from the community to that commercial version of product, right? It’s not significantly different from that that’s at the core of it is pretty first principles. And so that’s the pattern that you’re looking out for. But you can’t apply that pattern very easily, as a founder to build by gunpowder. Right, you can apply it to the level of saying, I need to build an open-source product, I need to have a way of thinking about how I monetize this and build a company around it. And I want to make sure that I get a lot of adoption. Right. That’s what you can think about. There’s not too much more of a template or a playbook than that, in my opinion, I think I think my advice to anybody thinking about this would be to really think through the kind of why they wanted to be open source versus not. And you need to have that community ethic. Right? You can’t. It’s not a hack, right, you need to genuinely care about, like we do a community call every month where we in the product team and engineers present on the community call, with our users, talking to our community, engaging them with the specifications of features that we are building, involving them in the roadmap, having them try the product out right asking them, if they’re satisfied with a particular thing with what is missing, and listening to them very closely, that fabric is built into the team and the people that we build today, right? That is a very core element of our fabric. That’s not a hack, to kind of get a feel for our kind of kind of open source, critical path infrastructure kind of our community also has a different meaning for different types of problems. Right, everybody has a different kind of community. So, so when thinking about that is important. But I think when we think about kind of what has been successful for us, right? I think I think having a particular point of view, about why your product and why your product is going to add value. I think sticking to that is really important. You can’t deviate from that. Right? It’s you have to be the right kind of stubborn, flexible on these things. I think that is really important. I think the second piece that is really important is that you just have to be the best product in the world. If you are the best product in the world, the entire community led motion becomes very valuable. That’s it, that’s pretty much it. If you are the best product in the world, at what you do, right. And then you have the people who can talk about that as well. Right and take it to community. That’s a good starting point. And that’s helpful, right? Once you start off with that, especially the nature of developer communities and user communities, is that they talk to each other a lot, right? People read reviews, people do things, so the word spreads very quickly. And, and at that starting point is building the best thing in the world and not kind of deviating from that too much. Right? It’s built the best thing in the world, you think about the user First, the customer first and you ignore everything else, everything has a secondary, right. So you need to build a team. And the VC partners who will let you do that will give you the time and space to do that to say I’m going to build the best thing in the world. And I’m just going to be maniacally user and customer focused and not give a shit about anything else. Right. And if you’re able to channel that, and you have a community kind of ethic or a DNA, then I think this community led motion really gets unlocked. And then in different stages, you’ll have different kinds of people could be helpful. Right? From a fundraising standpoint, right? How do you think about it? How do you partner with people? Right, from GTM standpoint, from a community from the shape of your community and marketing team standpoint, from a product team standpoint, from an engineering standpoint, from the engineering complexity that you will have, because you have an open-source product and an on prem product and the SAAS product? There’s a lot of engineering complexity there. So different people are very helpful for these different kinds of things. And that has been invaluable to us, right? For example, talking to like, you know, talking to Ali from data breaks to see where data breaks, right is expected was just mind opening in so many ways to open up is so mind opening in so many different ways, right from postman talking to Matt from GitHub is mind opening 20 so there’s lots of like, different partner with the right people and the right folks in the ecosystem and pull help from them to get help to different parts of this right. And they’ll be different people for different parts of this. And once you’re in the space, you’ll figure out who that is as a founder. So that’s, those are my two cents there. That did make sense. as I said,


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 45:51

Yeah, and this is contrary to what you know, some founders will have been excellent products think. Some, you know, the, the contrarian view is figure out the distribution first, because if you build a product, and sit in the desert, thinking the users will come, that’s the biggest mistake first time founders make.


Tanmai Gopal 46:24

Yep, yep, that’s true. That’s true. That’s very, very true. And I think that’s why it depends on kind of the space that you’re in. Right. That is why thinking of this as an enterprise SAAS playbook. Or SAAS, the SAAS kind of playbook is a little more like that. Figure out the distribution and the product, right. Whereas the open-source thing is a little bit different. Because the space is very niche, there is no competition to what Hasura does today. It doesn’t exist, it will exist a year, two years later. But there isn’t an equivalent of what hasura does. Today, there is no other company like this in the world, right? solving the problem that we do, which is not a good thing, or a bad thing. It’s just the facts. Right. So, when you’re working in a space like that, you have to really take your call what you want, eventually, in any stage of the company, distribution matters more than anything else, because you’ve figured the product out. But in those early stages, but you know, of course, you build a product needs it in the desert, it’s not going to matter for anything. So, it is both you are being community led. And if that’s the case that’s happening, then build the best product in the world, the community will come because it is community led so. So, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s sort of the same thing as, as well focusing


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 48:01

in your estimate, how many open-source companies who are whose main product is open source would be there in India? And how many in the world


Tanmai Gopal 48:11

hard for me to say I’m not, I’m not, I’m not terribly, I’m not very deeply connected into the Indian ecosystem anymore. So hard, hard for me to say what the latest work has been over the last few years.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 48:21

But do entrepreneurs reach out to you we’re building an open source for help from time to time?


Tanmai Gopal 48:28

Yes, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve talked to quite a few people. Yeah, I’ve talked to four or five people, I think, who have in the early stages of even thinking about like, you know, should I do open source? Or is it the right thing to do or not? And so, yeah, so I’ve come across a few.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 48:49

But also, that’s a very poor reflection of the Indian market, where we are known for tech talent, but the builder mentality, or the builder side of tech to contribute to something which another dev can use, because this is, you know, we, if we could aspire to reach there, right? We would have hundreds of entrepreneurs by that today’s time, reach out to you now, if there was a market like that, because we have something like SAAS Bhoomi For SAAS, there’s nothing open-source booming for open source.


Tanmai Gopal 49:28

Right. Right. Right. That’s a very good question. And, of course, you know, the US has a lot more of it in Europe has a lot more of it. India doesn’t. It’s, it’s we haven’t seen as an ecosystem in India, that delta is that we can create because of engineering innovation. We haven’t seen that. We haven’t seen that playbook. nobody’s seen that success. So, you have seen that success? How are you going to invest in it? And how are you going to create the time and space for that? Right? So that’s kind of my that’s the reason why I have a pessimistic take on the ecosystem that say, things will change, as we have more SAAS companies in India, those SAAS companies will then kind of create those engineering teams who have the time to be able to do that. Right, as a few people kind of start showing the way for this kind of playbook that is that can emerge, right? The number of investments will increase. But we have to be very careful here. Because you need the right kind of people to invest in the right kinds of things, right? You can’t have an e commerce investor, invest in an open-source project if they don’t have an understanding of the motion, right? Because they’ll have unfair expectations, right, which is, again, no fault of their own. Right? You have an e commerce or SAAS growth, like expectation is very different to the journey you see in open source. Right. So, all of these factors and things that will be thought of, which is kind of where the reason why things are where they are today. But that said, I mean, you know, I’m optimistic about I’m optimistic about a lot this gradually changing, it will take its time.


Siddhartha Ahluwalia 53:14

Thank you so much. To me, it’s been a wonderful chart on the journey of your mind, and how we take this open-source ecosystem forward. Thanks, thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.

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