WASHINGTON — Rami Essaid got the idea for Distil at his last job. When a client asked for a service that detected bot software, and a quick Google search showed none, Essaid decided to start his own cybersecurity company with three friends. Now with $65 million in venture funding, it’s bringing in tens of millions in revenue and aiming for profitability and a public offering in two to four years.
What are the challenges of founding a company with people you grew up with?It’s a blessing and a curse. We had four co-founders, three of which are left. The trouble with it is you have a hard time scaling back when it’s personal. The fourth founder, my other co-founders said I should’ve let him go way sooner than I did. The board said I should’ve let him go way sooner than I did. And we parted ways, but I was hesitant to do so. I was unable to see the faults in that relationship because we were so close. The other bad side of it is that it killed our friendship. I had known him for seven years, but we don’t really talk anymore. So I always look back with some regret. The positive side of it is you have a group of people that you trust blindly. So when they are able to execute, you don’t have to think about it, you can concentrate on something else. These guys are my brothers. They are going to be my best men in my wedding.
The best part of starting a company in this region: It’s a great place to live, and you work with a really talented workforce that is hungry to do something innovative and work in the tech scene. We have not had a challenge hiring here.