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Tech Founder Interview on Scalable Secrets Management for Developers and Scaling Yearly Revenue 2-4Xby@vallelungabrian
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Tech Founder Interview on Scalable Secrets Management for Developers and Scaling Yearly Revenue 2-4X

by Brian VallelungaJune 5th, 2024
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Are your secrets safe? Doppler CEO Brian Vallelunga explains scalable secrets management and his company's role in better software security.
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10 Questions with Founder and CEO Brian Vallelunga at Doppler via [The Startup Founder Interview Template].


1. What is your company in 2–5 words?

Scalable secrets management for developers.


2. Why is now the time for your company to exist?

Developers are increasingly dependent on numerous services, each requiring authentication through API keys, database URLs, and other sensitive secrets. Secure management of these secrets is crucial, not only to safeguard a company's reputation but more importantly, to protect the personal data of potentially millions of users from breaches. As the complexity of digital services grows, the need for robust, streamlined solutions to secure and manage these secrets becomes more pressing. Our company exists to address this vital need, ensuring that security keeps pace with innovation and protecting all stakeholders involved.


3. What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

It's often said, but in our case, it genuinely applies—our team is truly unique. What sets us apart is not just the expertise or the skill each member brings, but their extraordinary passion for our mission. This passion isn't just about the work; it's about making a meaningful impact. This shared commitment has fostered one of the most cohesive and vibrant cultures I've ever had the pleasure of being part of. It's this combination of passion, culture, and talent that uniquely positions us to tackle such challenging problems effectively. We aren't just working; we're driven by a collective mission to innovate and lead in our field, ensuring we provide the best solutions.


4. If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

If I weren't dedicated to building our startup, I would likely be involved in another venture within the hard tech space, particularly one that leverages artificial intelligence to accelerate research and development. AI has the potential to vastly improve efficiency and innovation across various industries, and I'm deeply interested in exploring how these technologies can solve complex problems and drive progress.


5. At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your metrics?

We operate our company based on a well-defined funnel, where each stage is guided by specific input and output KPIs, each assigned to a dedicated owner. Teams responsible for a shared stage in the funnel—both input and output KPIs—are required to hold weekly meetings to continuously refine and improve their performance metrics. At the top of the funnel, we focus on awareness KPIs, such as website visits, while at the bottom, we measure success through financial-based KPIs like the Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) from self-serve and managed sales.


To set our financial objectives, we begin with annual revenue targets established by the board and CEO, which our finance team then breaks down into quarterly goals. These are further divided into monthly KPIs by reversing through the pipeline: from revenue to awareness. These monthly KPIs are reviewed weekly in meetings with the leadership team and the KPI owners to ensure alignment and prompt action on emerging challenges and opportunities.


6. In a few sentences, what do you offer to whom?

We provide a top-tier, developer-centric secrets management solution tailored for medium to large-scale companies. Our platform equips engineering teams with robust tools to store, manage, and orchestrate access to their secrets across various projects, teams, and environments, enhancing both security and operational efficiency.


7. What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

The most thrilling aspect of our progress is our upward trajectory into larger markets. Our core mission is to secure the world's secrets, and it is particularly the larger enterprises that hold the highest density of sensitive information worth protecting. The recognition and adoption of our platform by these substantial institutions is not only a testament to the value we provide but also highlights the crucial need for our services in safeguarding their extensive digital assets. This shift is both validating and motivating as we continue to expand our reach and impact.


8. Where do you think your growth will be next year?

While I am cautious about making speculative forecasts far in advance, if pressed for an estimate, I anticipate seeing our revenue grow by approximately 2 to 4x next year.


9. Tell us about your first paying customer and revenue expectations over the next year.

Our very first paying customer was Tonebase! I had the opportunity to meet the founders through mutual friends and introduced them to our product with the Chipotle Sales Method. Their support was invaluable during our formative days—they provided consistent, high-quality feedback that was instrumental in shaping the foundational aspects of our product. Their early endorsement not only boosted our confidence but also set a strong precedent for the level of engagement we strive to maintain with all our customers. As for the upcoming year, we are optimistic about our revenue growth, aiming to build on this strong base and expand our reach further.


10. What’s your biggest threat?

I love this question! As a security company, our most significant threat is undoubtedly the possibility of being hacked. We dedicate an immense amount of time, resources, and energy to ensure this does not happen, going above and beyond standard security practices. Despite these rigorous efforts, the risk remains—not just for us, but also for our customers. We believe in transparency and talk openly about the proactive steps we take to mitigate potential risks.


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