Startup of the Day – CionSystems Inc.

The company of the day is CionSystems Inc., based in the US. They deliver innovative, affordable products that help organizations get more performance from their Windows infrastructure. You will find below an interview with Zubair Ansari, CTO and Founder of CionSystems Inc. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!


Interview with Zubair Ansari, CTO and Founder of CionSystems Inc.

Basic Introductory Questions:

How do you feel about being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?

We are honored and excited to be recognized by Microsoft. We see this as a great opportunity to showcase our company, products, and an excellent validation of our approach and hard work. As a pioneering technology company, Microsoft knows what it takes to be a successful in the marketplace.

How would you describe your company's product and mission?

CionSystems started with the mission to build affordable Windows Management solution to reduce cost, complexity and expand service offerings for IT Administrators and to help increase their customer satisfaction and maximize return on investments.

All of the CionSystems products are easy, affordable and are exposed as a website for centralized management thereby making IT administration a snap.

Where did the idea for this company come from? What was the genesis of the idea?

The idea came after several discussions with IT experts regarding the difficulty they face when dealing with user provisioning and de-provisioning, federated identities, password management, SSO, disaster recovery, passing compliance requirements and ensuring the overall security of the enterprise. Even though Active Directory is the most important piece of an enterprise, it is often neglected as mid size enterprise struggled to keep up with changes to the data.

We found that few companies provide a comprehensive solution to these problems. Those that did, designed them for large enterprises. We realized there is a market for simpler and more affordable Active Directory management for midsized and small enterprise companies wanting the same level of performance, scalability and flexibility, and founded CionSystems, Inc. to pursue that vision.

Impact of externals:

How did you fund the company? VC, Angel, Bootstrap? What is the chronology of funding?

Until now it’s been Bootstrapped, but are now beginning to look for future funding.

Are you currently seeking funding? If so, what kind and how much?

Yes, we are interested in holding conversations with VC’s, Angels and individuals looking to invest in a fast growing IT software company. We have a proven and diverse management team that knows what it takes to succeed in the industry.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

Our solutions are based on Microsoft technologies so joining Bizspark was a natural step for us. Bizspark, along with the Partner Program, has allowed us to showcase and increased the reach of our company and products. Thank you Microsoft for the program!

Product and Market questions:

Describe your offering. What do you sell and how do you sell it?

CionSystems sells a companion solution to Windows Server, providing secure, affordable web-based Active Directory management. The solution suite is available to SMBs and Enterprise customers and is licensed per user. Our mission is to make our customers succeed in managing their infrastructure while reducing administration costs.

Do you have any Software IP? More specifically, is there something unique you are doing in the marketplace?

Yes and we are looking to also patent some parts of our platform technology.

What would you describe as your "primary" market? Are there any secondary markets you service?

Vertical Agnostic, Windows-based environments with over 100 users, with more focus on education, health care and financial sector.

Do you have a growth plan or strategy? Any plans for Internationalization?

Yes, we are currently focused on US and Middle East, with a plan to expand in Europe and other areas in 2010.

Developer/People Questions:

How many employees do you currently have? How many software developers/engineers?

We are 20 people strong, with a team focused on development internationally, complemented by operations, support and some engineering here in Redmond.

Are you hiring? If so, what kinds of positions?

We are always looking for talented candidates who are passionate and want to make a positive change.

What technology platforms are you building on? Why? (No taboos)

We are a Microsoft shop. I have a long association with Microsoft and it was natural to develop on Microsoft platform. Code is written C#, ASP and hosted in IIS with interfaces to SQL/Exchange, Active Directory, SAML.

Color Questions:

Do you have a role model or someone you have looked up to? If someone in particular, whom?

"CionSystems provided us an easy-to-use, web-based and affordable AD management tool. It has simplified and improved our efficiency by 40% for AD management, security and planning." – Reza Seyed, Director, Cascade Engineering Services

Do you have a role model or someone you have looked up to? If someone in particular, whom?

Bill Gates, his dream of having a desktop on every desk and the way he went about achieving it.

What were some of your previous endeavors before starting this company?

17+ years at Microsoft in software development and management in windows group, working on networking, high availability and scalability solutions, security, storage technologies and emerging market. I am very passionate about Windows management and simplifying IT’s job.

Do you have any advice for young software entrepreneurs?

Dream big, believe in it, take risks and don’t lose your focus through all the phases of business development. Always keep customer’s need ahead, and develop your product based on what your customer want, not on what you think they want or what you want to build. Be passionate about it.

Where do you see opportunities today and in the future regarding the Software/Internet arenas?

SaaS will gain ground as more and more users and providers are embracing it as a delivery method.

Anything else you'd like to add?

We are looking forward to a great year and a great ongoing relationship with Microsoft.


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