A Nerds Framework for Success w/ Daniel Jebaraj | Ep. 121

February 20, 2024 Big Pixel Season 1 Episode 121
A Nerds Framework for Success w/ Daniel Jebaraj | Ep. 121
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A Nerds Framework for Success w/ Daniel Jebaraj | Ep. 121
Feb 20, 2024 Season 1 Episode 121
Big Pixel

In this episode, David and Gary speak with .net aficionado, CEO and one of the five Co-Founders of Syncfusion, Daniel Jebaraj.



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Our Hosts

David Baxter - CEO of Big Pixel

Gary Voigt - Creative Director at Big Pixel

The Podcast

David Baxter has been designing, building, and advising startups and businesses for over ten years. His passion, knowledge, and brutal honesty have helped dozens of companies get their start.

In Biz/Dev, David and award-winning Creative Director Gary Voigt talk about current events and how they affect the world of startups, entrepreneurship, software development, and culture.

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, David and Gary speak with .net aficionado, CEO and one of the five Co-Founders of Syncfusion, Daniel Jebaraj.



Submit Your Questions to:

OR comment on our YouTube videos! - Big Pixel, LLC - YouTube

Our Hosts

David Baxter - CEO of Big Pixel

Gary Voigt - Creative Director at Big Pixel

The Podcast

David Baxter has been designing, building, and advising startups and businesses for over ten years. His passion, knowledge, and brutal honesty have helped dozens of companies get their start.

In Biz/Dev, David and award-winning Creative Director Gary Voigt talk about current events and how they affect the world of startups, entrepreneurship, software development, and culture.

Contact Us


FB | IG | LI | TW | TT : @bigpixelNC

Big Pixel

1772 Heritage Center Dr

Suite 201

Wake Forest, NC 27587

Music by: BLXRR

David: [00:00:00] My team, if I bring on a newbie, not even new, just a new developer on the team. Nine out of ten times, they don't like dot net they are snooty react developers and they need their little chai teas and whatever. Bunch of babies

David: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the biz dev podcast, the podcast about developing your business. I'm David Baxter, your host joined per usual by Gary Voigt. I don't have anything to make fun of you today, but I mean, I do, but it'd be not appropriate for this podcast. How are you doing, Mr. Gary?

Gary: Not bad. I did have a funny little story I wanted to share with you. Uh, last week my daughter came home 

and she's like, you might have a new subscriber to the podcast. I'm like, oh, really? She's like, yeah, I was listening to it. I'm like, oh, okay. Then come to find out she was just listening to it with her friends to make fun of me.

So. I'm just going to give a shout out to my daughter and her friends for making fun of us. Thank you.

David: Nice. I actually found out that one of my [00:01:00] son's Best friends is an avid listener. She's been listening since the beginning, which she's 17 or 18, which is crazy to me.

Gary: Well, thank you. We'll just take that.

David: We'll say hi to Aria. There we go. All right. More importantly, we are joined by Daniel Jebaraj.

He is the CEO of sync fusion. It has been for 22 years. Is that right?

Daniel: It's the 23rd year now, David.

David: 23rd.

Daniel: 23rd year. Yes, we started in 2001.

David: that is very cool. You've been doing that as long as I've been coding. I appreciate that very much. So welcome to the program. Thank you so much for joining us.

Daniel: Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's nice to be here.

David: Now I am a huge nerd as Gary will attest. Um, and I have used your products over the years. Um, so it was funny when I found out that you are our guest this week. I was like, I know him, not him personally, but I know that product. My trying to think I built. Auditing software, which is as [00:02:00] exciting as it sounds.

Uh, I built auditing software for seven or eight years and it was completely built on y'all's on y'all's stuff. So I it's been a while, but I absolutely have used your stuff for a long time. Uh, grids and all the stuff. So for everyone listening, tell us a little bit about Syncfusion and what you guys do.

Daniel: Yeah, absolutely. And thank you, David, for being a customer. Um, I think that's the most important thing for us. Whenever I meet a customer, I take it a point to say, thank you. Because you guys are the reason that we do this, we've been producing these frameworks for over 20 years now, and the typical user takes our framework and then puts it into their own product.

They build a software application and instead of building these things from scratch, they take our product and then they're able to take these larger building blocks, such as grids and charts and reporting components and things like this. And, uh, aggregated into their product. So they don't have to really do the [00:03:00] heavy lifting that is involved with building those products.

They can focus on their domain. So if they're an insurance or banking or the energy sector, then their secret sauce is really what they put in. And the rest of the stuff is really what. We specialize in doing and the from the customer side. Another win is that very often you go into a project thinking that you need XYZ requirements.

Maybe you need to load a lot of data, but you don't think about maybe how fast it should come up or how it should look basically. So those kinds of requirements. Um, sometimes can surface a little later in the cycle and and with the pre made components such as ours, it's easy to kind of really do those tweaks as you go along and generally get to market a lot faster than you would if you were building everything from scratch.

So that's what you've done. We've done it since 2001. We started with 5 components, a little suite of components, and then over time. We now built a library of about 1800 [00:04:00] components, so it's really a large set that is suitable for building most software applications. We focused on business applications, so suitable for building more software applications that focus on business use cases.

David: So you mentioned it's been doing this for about 21 years, but you've been there 23 years. So what'd you guys do before that? You

Daniel: so 23 years, uh, the first year or so, uh, we, uh, were in, uh, development mode, basically, so we didn't really ship anything. We didn't sell anything. And then we started selling from the second year. And then, you know, by the time we got to a larger set, uh, it was, uh, uh, right around the second year mark, uh, that you were really, uh, running on, on all cylinders, I think.

David: guys started with this in mind, this was the company's thing to build tools for other developers to use. That was the original idea.

Daniel: That is correct, David. That was our initial idea. We wanted to build, uh, granted that we didn't think that we would end [00:05:00] up with 1800 controls over time, but our goal was to build a small set of controls that we could license and maintain. It would be the kind of controls that we wish we had. Most of us came from a software development background.

We had done C prior to that. This was right at the inception of darknet as a You know, commercial platform, so we thought there was an opportunity to build these controls. Uh, that could be libraries on the document platform, but that was the idea from day 1. Yes.

David: So if you

Gary: have a question.

David: Oh, Oh, no, non nerd wants to talk. Go ahead.

Gary: Exactly. And the question is non nerd. Um, I'm familiar with something similar, I believe, is Telerik something similar like that where it's a framework of templates that fits into a specific code base? No.

Daniel: Yes, it is a competitor of ours and a few others as well. So very similar. I think we target the same market. We started in slightly different areas of the market, but over time we produced very similar kinds of products.

David: Bad form. [00:06:00] Gary bringing up the competitors, man. What was

Gary: No. No, I'm not trying to bring up the competitor. Um, I actually did work as an auditor for a couple of years prior to my design journey, but then one of my jobs as a freelance designer was helping build out the UI for. The same company who does auditing, but they used Telerik. So that's why I was kind of trying to associate it in my brain of how the controls work, if it's similar.

Daniel: Yeah.

David: So are you guys still all NET or have you branched out a little bit?

Daniel: So over time, uh, we did a fair amount of, uh, web development, David. Uh, so a lot of that is JavaScript and, uh, some of it is, uh, the backend is still C sharp. So we do Blazor now. Um, so we do C sharp, uh, Blazor. Uh, we also do a fair amount of, uh, um, other backend kind of code, uh, because as, uh, time went on, uh, we picked up, uh, you know, Python is used, used fairly heavily within the company.

Yeah. [00:07:00] But the shipping products are still mostly dot net and JavaScript. Those tend to dominate our shipping products. Yeah.

David: So how has, so I've been a NET developer since 2000, so a long time. Uh, and I have noticed, I mean, like my team, if I bring on a newbie, not even new, just a new developer on the team, nine out of ten times, they don't like dot NET. They are snooty react developers and they need their, you know, their little chai teas and whatever bunch of babies I hope they're listening.

Um, I, I have noticed that. net comes and goes in favor. Do you guys ride that wave too, or is it, there's enough enterprise dudes out there you don't even notice.

Daniel: So I think it's a little bit of a mix of both basically. So I think we have customers who focus heavily on more of the web frameworks, you know, the react, the angular. Those kinds of things on the front end, and then they use whatever they want on the back end. So [00:08:00] we are kind of agnostic in that sense, basically.

But a lot of our larger customers tend to be very heavily invested on the Microsoft platforms. So they have code that's been running for a very long time. And when new things come along, they tend to really closely look at it. And Microsoft does a really good job keeping up. So, for example, I mean, Microsoft Uh, you building a mobile application, then you certainly have, uh, you know, multiple paths available to you.

But Xamarin was a very straightforward path for a lot of our enterprise customers. They had code that was C sharp, and so they could take it and run with Xamarin and then build a mobile application that was, uh. Primarily for the internal users. Um, and, uh, so forth with web applications. Also, if you have, uh, you know, you want to have a seamless kind of a code base between your back and your front end.

C sharp is still very attractive. I mean, you can take blazer and then you can do a lot of business applications that are. Um, fairly easy to build, [00:09:00] uh, easy to, uh, easy to test and then, uh, to streamline and maintain for the long run. So a lot of our enterprise customers are very happy with the darknet platform.

And I think over time, uh, it's also picked up a number of tricks. Uh, and I think, uh, it's become, uh, more, uh, dynamic, uh, as, uh, time goes on. Performance has also dramatically changed. Uh, the footprint has gotten smaller and smaller. Um, so I, I think a number of these features have also kind of. Come along along the way, but so I think we have a mix.

We do have some customers who like just the JavaScript part of it and then use whatever they want on the back end and others who are very heavily invested on the platform end to end.

David: So have you been at Syncfusion since the very beginning?

Daniel: Yes, yes, I'm 1 of the co founders. It's actually, uh, so, uh, as to get a bunch of friends who got together and started the company back in 2001.

David: So you, how did that work? It was you and how many other people?

Daniel: There's five others, uh, [00:10:00] uh, David, five others, yes, but not everybody is still there. Um, about, uh, you know, uh, two, two, I think, uh, moved on fairly early in the, uh, in the process. And then the rest of them stayed, uh, and I think, uh, majority of us are still here, um, in various roles, uh, 23 years later. So,

David: That's

Gary: did you assemble this team or did some of you guys like maybe work for the same company previously and then decided to do your own thing,

Daniel: So we actually work together for another startup prior to this. So I was a president of college and I worked for a startup and I met, you know, the co founders there that startup. We worked together for four years and that company was acquired by another company. And once they acquired it, we worked there for a few, a few months.

And then, um, that. Company that acquired the startup decided that they were not going to have office in Raleigh, North Carolina anymore. So they shut it down. So it was right at the time that dot net [00:11:00] was really taking off and Java was already, you know, mainstream at that point. Uh, so we thought it was a good opportunity for us to do something in that space.

So that's how we got started.

David: That is so interesting. So when I do mentoring and I talk to startups and all of that, I use the term, I always warn them about having too many co founders because the, the old adage that you've heard is something that has multiple heads is called a monster. Right? So how did you guys work around that? I mean, five co founders, even for the first year or two, it's a lot.

How did. Did you, did you immediately, or did someone immediately become the leader? And then, then everybody else filled all the roles or how did that work?

Daniel: So that's an interesting question, Gary, because I think that's a very, uh, uh, David, uh, uh, that's very, uh, very. True. Uh, I think you have to be really careful when you set something up this way because the roles have to be clearly defined. In our case, what we did at the very beginning [00:12:00] was we spent quite a bit of time structuring everything.

We did the legal paperwork. We incorporated first before we even wrote a single line of code. And, uh, we, uh, decided who would be in what role. Uh, we also decided that, uh, the, uh, stock ownership in the company was different from the actual functional work within the company. So we had that separation from the beginning.

Uh, we had our own strengths and weaknesses. So we, uh, based on that, we assigned different roles. And, uh, another thing that we did from the very beginning was that each of us was paid a salary from the beginning. So there were all these roles, uh, and there was some kind of, uh, you know, money that was paid basically for those roles.

So we always kept the stockholding, uh, of the company, uh, separate from the day to day functioning of the company. So I think that served us well, uh, and over time, you know, even as some of the co founders decided that this was not the thing for them and they wanted to move on to other roles. There wasn't really a conflict or anything because [00:13:00] the stock was intact.

They could keep that stock and then benefit from it at a later date if they chose to. And, uh, and the company would just go on as before.

David: So they still own it.

Daniel: Uh, yes. I mean, some of the co founders who left in the early days, they still, yes, I mean, they did not get rid of their shares. They chose to keep the shares and they still attend our, uh, you know, Annual shareholder meetings and all of that. So we maintain very good, um, you know, relationships with them and all that.


David: very cool. So do you have any, what's the right word for it? Cautionary tales for someone who had that. Cause I've seen that and it did not work the way you're describing it. Went a very rough way because they just basically fought all the time. So, I mean, there's a couple of questions built into that, but do you have any, any words of wisdom?

If someone does, you know, I got my buddies. We're all going to start a business together. There's five or six of us. You guys did it a very official way. And I have questions about that, but any cautionary tales you would tell that person be careful [00:14:00] of X.

Daniel: So I think it's always when you have 456 people working together, there's going to be conflict, and I think before you get into that conflict face, it is important to kind of have the paperwork structured properly, basically. So you can run the company in a way that makes sense. You can disagree on things, and then you can still run the company.

Uh, if there's a majority of, uh, um, the shareholders who believe that the company should take a certain direction, then I think that will prevail on. You can keep those kinds of conflicts very civil. I think there's more room for trouble if you get into this kind of a production scenario, basically saying, Hey, you know, let's put together something and then we'll deal with the rest of the issues as they come along.

Uh, well, you know, we'll figure this all out together. Uh, one, uh, as one group, um, there's no clear picture of, you know, who's holding what part of the stock, what everybody's role is and those kinds of things. I think that's a little bit more difficult because these [00:15:00] conflicts will come, uh, at some point, uh, you will disagree on the direction of the company and disagree on what the product should do, where the money should be spent, how profits should be.

You know, spent or whatnot. So I think it's best to have the structure in place before you get started. And once you get started, you know, once those conflicts come, I think, uh, it's, it's not so difficult to resolve them, um, and, and move on. And I think that's a, that's a skill that you really need to. Uh, practice and retain as you grow the company as well, because at different points of time, uh, even those who are not co founders, you will have different folks come and contribute.

And sometimes they stay for the long run. Uh, sometimes they stay for a while and they contribute, and then they think that the direction in which we're headed is probably not the right thing for them, and then they move on. So I think we have to have these. Uh, kinds of ways of coming on, uh, contributing and having a civil way for disagreeing and then, uh, moving on.

David: You guys came at this though, in a [00:16:00] very mature way. And you're, you were saying you're pretty soon out of college, right?

Daniel: I was, yes, I, uh, we worked for four years after college. I was in grad school, and then after grad school, that was my first job, uh, four years in startup. And then, um, right after that, we did this. Yes.

David: So you're in your late twenties and you guys have the wherewithal. Cause I mean. I've seen these guys, right? I work with these guys and you were a little older than a guy straight out of college, but even so most of them were like, dude, I got this idea. Here's what we're going to do. And we're going to start building it tomorrow.

And they're like, yeah, we're going to do that. And then they start literally writing the code, like you were saying, but you guys said, hold up. We're going to do all this paperwork first. We do all this legal stuff. Who on the team, or maybe all of you had the wherewithal to even know that was a thing.

Gary: or was that a tactic to weed out the weaker ones

Daniel: No, I think part of it was, uh, I think my co founder, Stefan, um, you know, he was [00:17:00] involved with the previous startup as well, basically. So I think he had some experience with this. He was part of the, uh, he had some stake in the previous startup. And so when we got together, I think this was one of the considerations is really how do we structure it?

You know, what do we do? So we did a lot of the, um, Work up front, we had asked for legal contacts and then, you know, we had a few well wishes in the area and we had found the right person to do the legal paperwork and it didn't take a whole lot of time. David, I mean, I think the end to end, we probably spent about 2 weeks on this initial structure thing before we got started.

So it wasn't really a lot of time, but that was something that we did have some background knowledge on, especially step on it. And then a lot of us, you know, thought it made sense to really make sure that it was streamlined before we got started and started writing code.

David: I think one of the most common problems I have [00:18:00] heard when startups get a little traction. Is so many assumptions are made on how the business and the legal side of things works, you know, they have a conversation over coffee and a napkin and they're all excited and they just get to work. And now if the company goes nowhere, who cares, right?

You had a good time. You tried, you failed, fine, learn, move on. But if it catches some traction or some money involved in all of that, and they're like, but I thought and you thought and what and now you have tons and tons of conflict and intention that could have been avoided. But most people don't think about that.

So, I mean, kudos that you guys had the wherewithal to go that way. Cause I mean, that is so rare. I need to put that in my Rolodex. That's the wrong word to remember that when I'm advising other people, because I think that's not something I bring up enough, and I think that. It can get you in a lot of trouble.

I, it just can. And you guys really did that in a really good way.

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Gary: I was going to say that time period between starting and then having a product to actually sell. Was there any frustration or worry, like kind of, as you were developing it before you were selling it? Or did you kind of already have customers in mind and already have like a dialogue going with a couple of people that were going to, you know, kind of come on board once the product was ready?

Daniel: Uh, we did not have initial customers, uh, uh, at that point, uh, Gary, so it was mostly writing. Uh, we did really know that there was gonna be a market, uh, because, uh, the, uh, entire Microsoft, uh, development stack, uh, prior to that was on. C [00:20:00] and they were very much shifting in the direction of NET and pushing NET as the default, uh, uh, development stack.

So we knew that there would be a market. Uh, I think the real challenge for us is whether we would be ready to kind of really be able to participate in that market. So it was mostly an internal challenge. Uh, so as long as, you know, we were able to meet those internal dates. And get a product available and have it available on the market, and it would be, um, you know, it would perform well.

It would be stable and provide the features that are required for participating in this market. Uh, we had no doubts, uh, that would sell. I mean, it was probably a little bit of naive optimism also on our side. I think


Gary: there a marketplace? Was there a marketplace already in existence for this type of product? Like didn't, in essence, did Microsoft have kind of like an app store with, you know, a service like yours that has the pre made template stuff, or was there some sort of hub or store like that, [00:21:00] like coming into the scene where you knew as long as you put your product in this place, potential customers would see it that way.

You didn't have to do any kind of like outside cold calling and marketing and trying to develop, you know, some sort of interest in you. Alone in a silo, you entered like the actual market with other similar products so that you were a choice to be made from the customer.

Daniel: So I think, uh, the extension model itself was fairly well known, uh, at that time itself. Uh, Gary, uh, Microsoft. Back in the Visual Basic days, they had VPXs, and then later they had, when they moved to 32 bit, they had OCXs. So the extension model itself was fairly well known in that market, basically. So then when they were in the C market, MFC extensions were also sold and people were aware of them.

And there were some resellers, and, you know, this component source is still around today and doing quite well. Um, and, uh, you could go on and list, uh, um, there, um, and there were other ways that you could get your, uh, kind [00:22:00] of, uh, word out. One of the things we did in the early days, uh, was, uh, a lot of participation in news groups, uh, because back then a lot of, uh, support questions, uh, would come up on news groups.

And one of the ways that we participated in news groups was we created this FAQ for Windows Forms, which is one of the earliest products that we built was for Windows Forms within the Darknet framework. So we created this FAQ of technical questions and answers, and when a question would come up on the news groups, we would answer with a link to the Windows Forms FAQ.

And that windows forms back, uh, became fairly popular among, uh, software developers who are working with windows forms. And so earliest products were built with windows forms of targeting windows forms. So they could come to the site. There wouldn't be anything in the pack itself that would talk about the products, but people would come to the site and then some of them would poke around and then they would be able to see the product and kind of really go from there.

So that's how we got

Gary: Okay. Yeah, that's

Daniel: We didn't really get so much of a. [00:23:00] Yeah. Boost from third party marketplaces, but really just the fact when this falls back.

David: So I'm going to switch gears completely. I'm going to jump to today where we've been in the past. Very interesting. I find that really fascinating, but you've now been the CEO or something like that for a long, long time. Now, what gets you excited about getting up every day, running the company right now?

Daniel: So the, uh, thing that is, uh, most interesting to me, uh, David, is, uh, you know, I, I, I think my, uh, core thing is about. Uh, adding value, basically. So I think with customers, uh, I think the software industry in general, I think, um, we, uh, I don't think we do a particularly great job of adding value. Uh, we, I think, uh, at least our perspective from our company is that.

Uh, when we, uh, ask a customer for a certain amount of revenue, we need to make sure that we are adding a tremendous amount of value, uh, day in and day out [00:24:00] to justify that revenue, basically. So I think that is our core thinking. So that's why, uh, I think that's what motivates us. That's what motivates me as a company, uh, me as an individual and us as a company, uh, is really to say, okay, you know, uh, this customer who was paying us, uh, you know, let's say they were paying us 10, 000 a year.

Uh, 10 years ago, basically, and they had 400 different controls that they licensed from us today. The marketplace is much more competitive. They're competing in a much more aggressive environment. Their turnaround times have come down. So what have we done in these five years? What have we done in these 10 years that adds tremendous value?

To their business, basically. So I think, uh, that, that's really the, the big thing for us, and, uh, that's the question that we ask every day is how can we really add value? I mean, how can we go from, you know, adding, uh, 1800 controls and, you know, if we have to add 200 or 300 more, in what ways can we make their life easier, um, that they can really take their product to market quicker?

And then they can benefit from it. And we have to do [00:25:00] this, uh, without raising costs. Uh, and I think that's the big, uh, uh, thing for us. And that's kind of a guiding goal for us because one, one thing that we've done over the years, and this may not be the best thing for every company, but in, uh, St. Fusion's case, one thing we chose to do, uh, was we did not raise any outside capital, uh, we were completely bootstrapped and everything that we, um, you know, uh, did over the years was completely funded by our own sales.

And I think that helped us to really, uh, keep the cost down and to a point where we were adding more and more value. And I think that remains a very core driving force for us. We want our customers to really think about us as a company that adds tremendous value to what they do, because I think it's not only, you know, I think the right thing to do, but it also helps us to stay in business and to grow year after year.

David: So are you guys, At this stage of the game is does AI come into your world at all? I know that's the [00:26:00] buzzword. Everybody's excited about it. Does that have anything to do with you guys yet? I mean, obviously your coders are using it. I don't think there's a developer on this planet who hadn't played with co pilot yet, but outside of just that day to day, cause we're, we're using it too.

Um, You guys, is that something you can bring into your controls or is that still too squishy?

Daniel: internal teams are certainly using it. And I think we are also starting. I mentioned that we have another line of products, David, the. Bold line of products. So some of the larger building blocks, we have a dashboarding platform called Bold BI and reporting platform called Bold Reports.

And we have another platform for digital signatures that's called Bold Signs. So these products are larger building blocks, and they are seeing more use for AI to be integrated into the system. So, uh, for example, one use case, uh, that we are dealing with, uh, with digital signing is our focus is really on customers who are licensing, uh, the SDK from us and then integrating digital signing into their own applications.[00:27:00] 

Um, so not so much the consumer part of it, but really businesses who are building, uh, software that require digital signatures to be embedded. Uh, in cases like that, uh, they, uh, may have a form, uh, a p uh, you know, uh, that they're submitting for signatures. And, uh, with the ai, uh, we. Can now have a lot of that auto configured for the customer basically.

So where does the signature field go? Where does the date field go? I know where does a multiple choice field go? So those kinds of things can be at least the first round of them can be done with AI. So that's the kind of thing that we're doing now. We're slowly finding areas. Where I can add value. Same thing with the dashboarding, right?

I mean, so if you want, um, to do a dashboard from scratch, you certainly can. But if you want to have layouts that are pre done, um, and based on the data that you have available, then you can have that done using AI. So those are the things that we're interested in. So we're really focused on those areas, and we're looking to make it [00:28:00] more productive as an experience for our customers when they use these products.


David: That's, that's very cool. That's a good way of, of thinking about it. So your main products, I mean, that's right. It seems kind, there's kind of a somewhat of a dead end there to a point because you're, you're building controls, but your, your dashboards are your dashboards of using your controls or if I'm married to one of your competitors or whatever, and I wanted to use your dashboard stuff, is that possible or is it, you gotta be on the sync fusion train.

Daniel: So, internally, we use our controls to build those dashboards, we build those reports using our controls, David, but you don't need to be, I mean, you can use our competitors for components and then use our dashboards and reporting. So I think the way we see the dashboard, the way we see the reporting from this side of the market.

Uh, is that they are simply larger building blocks. They're really not very different from a chart or a grid, but they're really larger blocks that can be aggregated. And then, uh, customers can license them, use them, and internally how they're built is really just [00:29:00] internal detail. Customers can mix and match them with anything that they want.

Gary: So in your over 20 years of experience, I'm sure you've learned a lot. And, uh, what would you give any new entrepreneur or new business startup as your top three pieces of advice?

Daniel: So I think I have to qualify this and saying, you know, my experience is a little narrow prism, right? So I've done this for 23 years is running a software company, which is not very capital intensive, basically. So I didn't really have to go out and raise money. Um, and, uh, the kind of products that we built and over the years, we didn't have to raise money.

If you take that bias into account, I think my first thing is the money basically. So I think a lot of times the temptation is to really think in terms of how much money we need. And I think we tend to overestimate how much we need to get the idea off the ground. And that's something that I've learned over the years is that you never need as much as you think you need to test a product idea.

So to [00:30:00] really build something, uh, to get it up and running quickly, uh, I think the most important validation that you can get is to build something and then try to sell it to a few customers. Basically, you get some feedback and then try to refine it and don't assign a large marketing budget to it. Don't assign a huge development budget to it, but really do something.

Quickly, basically. So I think, um, in our case with any product, we like to try and really see how it works out. And then we take that feedback and then we'll refine it. Sometimes we may have a one or two year cycle over which these products are refined before they become mainstream. So if the idea really takes off, then it goes mainstream.

Then we will assign marketing dollars to it. And then we will spend money to promote it and do all of that. The other thing is also, uh, often there's a temptation to say, okay, you know, we're getting killed in the market because XYZ competitor is spending a lot of money, basically. So, and we have to do the same thing to survive.

And I think that kind of mindset is also really [00:31:00] questionable as far as money is concerned. I'll give an example. Uh, we had, uh, uh. Competitors raise money at different points of time, and they're outspending us on the marketing side. So one of the things we did was we went back to the drawing board and said, how can we really do this in a way that we can market the products without spending a lot of money?

So we came up with this idea of the simply series of ebooks. We published them today. We published about 210 of these books over the last 10 years, and these books are about 100 pages each, and they are published at the rate of one or two a month, and they're completely free. They don't have any marketing material, but a lot of, you know, a lot of our target audience.

Comes to our site to obtain those ebooks. Um, we published them on all the latest trends, all the latest frameworks and everything. So that was a good way for us to get away from spending marketing money, you know, going out and racing or trying to get those kinds of, uh, amounts together to compete in that market.

And we've [00:32:00] also stayed away from borrowing for that reason because we think that, you know, you always can work out because borrowing, uh, in our context means that there's a problem to be fixed. And instead of fixing the problem, we're pushing it down the line and then, uh, you know, uh, smoothing it over with some money that's borrowed.

So that that's kind of 1 item that I would really mention. The second thing is, I think it's very tempting to have Um, a very quick kind of mindset where things get done, you know, very aggressively for a very short period of time, kind of like a sprint. Basically, it's very easy to stay focused for a few days or a few weeks, but then staying focused for a few years is much harder, basically.

So we, I kind of think of this as the marathon mindset versus just a sprinting. Mindset. So I think with the marathon mindset, you always think about something that is a longer term, but you have to be prepared to do the work to really work day in and day out. If you want to win in a big market, or if you want to win in a market that is competitive, then you have to really be prepared to [00:33:00] work long term, basically.

So you may not have access to all the resources that you need. You may not have access to all the, uh, you know, different ingredients that you need, but you have to work at it one step at a time. You have to say, okay, you know, if I'm going to build this product, I need experienced resources. So if I cannot have experienced resources, then what can I do?

I can hire people and train them for that role. So it's really something that you do day in and day out, uh, for a very, uh, long period of time. And when you do that, uh, it's, it's really, uh, it makes it much more, uh, simpler to win in the long run. So I think that mindset. Uh, where we don't think of things as, uh, it needs to get done overnight.

You need, you need that kind of urgency, uh, to move forward, but you need to keep that, uh, pace kind of going for the long run. There's no use really getting very excited about something for three months and then switching gears, getting excited about something else. And so forth, basically, see, the other thing, the third thing that I really think is also very important is that you have to really look at internal [00:34:00] factors factors that are under your control over external factors when we got started in 2001.

it was right around the corner when September 11th hit. And there was a lot of turmoil, uh, in, uh, you know, markets and everything else. And a lot of our customers that target customers for us would be in the financial industry. They were the ones who were building those kinds of applications, insurance industry, and they were going through turmoil, but we chose to kind of really not focus on external factors.

So we said, you know, let's do what we can internally, you know, whatever variables we can control. Internally is what we can control. I think that mindset has been part of a culture. We don't really worry too much about what's going on in the market or what's going on with this or that. I think our focus is really about what can we do internally?

What can we do that makes the products better? That puts out new products, maybe in related areas. What can we do to cut our costs and to become more efficient? What can we do to add value to our customers? What can we do to turn around support incidents? For example, [00:35:00] we used to do 24 hours, 48 hours five years ago.

Basically, now turn around times we run 24 hours a day. Basically, we have offices in India, offices in Kenya and East Africa. So we are able to turn it on in a matter of hours, basically. So two, three hours. So customers really like that. I mean, they say, okay, you know, I used to wait 24 hours. Now I can get the response in three hours.

It doesn't really matter what's going on in the outside market, whether we are competing four people, five people, five vendors, 10 vendors, it doesn't really matter to us. So we really focus on what is going on within the company, things within our control. So that's the other third thing that I would really stress.

Don't worry about what's going on outside too much, but really focus on what is going on inside. How can you really make it better? And so I think those would be my top three things. Okay.

Gary: I really like, uh, what you had to say about validating your idea early and cheaply. That for sure. And then adding value to your marketing in an organic way, instead of just a big spend, like that, adding the value is definitely, [00:36:00] um, where we kind of see. Most good marketing going these days because anybody can throw up 15, 000 social media posts a day.

Now, you know, what value does that add to anybody who's going to be a customer? What you did seem to actually work out really good for them with publishing the books and then the continuing to find ways to actually serve as your customer without selling them something. Like you said, with the support, those are very good pieces of advice.

Appreciate that. So if anybody wanted to learn more about your company. What's the easiest place to find you?

Daniel: So they would go to our website at Syncfusion. com, S Y N C F U S I O N dot com, and the products are all listed there. And we have some related products also under the bold banner. Those are also linked from there as well.

Gary: We'll make sure we include those links in the show notes along with your LinkedIn. If anybody wants to reach out and say hello,

David: Well, thank you so much, Daniel, for joining us. It's been a lot of fun. I [00:37:00] appreciate it.

Daniel: Thanks, David. Thanks, Gary. I really enjoyed talking to you. Thank you for having me. 

OUTRO: Hi, I'm Christy Pronto, Content Marketing Director here at BigPixel. Thank you for listening to this episode of the BizDev Podcast. We'd love to hear from you. Shoot us an email, hello at thebigpixel. net. The BizDev Podcast is produced and presented by BigPixel. See you next week. Until then, follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Threads, YouTube, and LinkedIn.