How Did it All Start?
Like most "overnight successes," we've been building our company's foundation for years. Here's a brief timeline representing the significant milestones of our journey.
Scott R launched the company early in the year with a few consulting clients and a contract to build a web-based information sharing solution for the State of Florida Department of Revenue. Just a few months later, he wondered what he was thinking when the dot-com (and IT) bubble dramatically bursts, and takes the economy down with it.
Board counsels us to sell to customers, not investors - something we've focused on ever since. The company sustained through the post-tech-bubble meltdown by consulting on web-based enterprise architecture and information sharing projects for the Intelligence Community (IC).
Scott R’s Yakabod has customers but no software platform. Scott W’s DayDog has a software platform, but no customers. They share the same core values and vision – so it was a natural merger. The expanded Yakabod now includes the VNE intellectual property - an "object relational management" engine serving "content and commerce, personalized and localized" - that would eventually become the core of Yakabox.
VNE is repurposed from consumer-facing web applications to an enterprise information sharing platform, then delivered as a toolkit with supporting development services to our first IC client. Urgent post-9/11 knowledge sharing initiatives quickly run into the practical reality of highly classified information security – driving adaptations into the very core of Yakabox that prove to be a key differentiator over a decade later.
Moved to beautiful historic downtown Frederick. One day, after a bit too much coffee, Scott R envisions a derelict second floor of a historically prominent building on the town's Square Corner as the perfect space for Yakabod World HQ. Offering none of the ambience of Steve Jobs’ garage, the team works on folding tables in an apartment across the street to facilitate daily inspections during the lengthy construction. Someone has the brilliant idea of pulling all of our own cables. After days of breathing Civil War-era dust and several trips to the very creepy basement, Scott W decides we should have outsourced this task. Finally moved into the new HQ in July.
Successfully shifted to agile software development - then an emerging practice - by adapting early textbook methods to the real world challenges of running multiple inter-dependent development projects in parallel. Somewhere in there, we have our first potluck – and realize we have a foodie subculture embedded in our corporate culture. The point is further emphasized when tourists see our logo and mistakenly assume we’re a Southwestern restaurant. We briefly contemplate diversifying our revenue model: “You’ll come for the nachos, but stay for the technology.”
Installed Yakabox 2.0 (then called KnowledgeWorks) for our first IC client, marking the shift from a software toolkit delivery model to a fully bundled appliance product.
Realized after trying several of the industry leading agile software management apps that none of them could adapt to our unique approach to managing concurrent customer-directed developments on a commercially supported core. In our frustration, someone has a flash of inspiration to just move the process onto Yakabox. Our 5-hour planning meeting quickly shrinks to 20 minutes, and we now understand the power of driving user adoption through "social collaborative apps" rather than "social networking."
Started using alpha version 3.0, officially renamed Yakabox, featuring a single stream Activity Viewer and Matter Meter as the primary user interface. After years of knowing who we are, while struggling to express it concisely, we finally nail our tagline and put it on the side of the building: Do Stuff That MattersTM.
Delivered the first Yakabox 3.x appliance to an IC client, followed shortly thereafter by the first continuity of operations (COOP) appliance.
After an exhaustive 6+ month test and mitigation period, received our first Authority to Operate (ATO) at an accredited level of PL/3 plus Annex E for an IC installation - something that was subsequently required for an ever increasing number of the secure missions our platform served. Meanwhile, we commissioned our first Yaka-wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon vinted locally by a UC Davis trained winemaker using Napa Valley grapes. (It proves to be such a hit at open houses, corporate parties, as Christmas gifts, etc that it becomes an annual tradition.)
Attracting industry analyst recognition outside our core IC market as we continue to refine the Yakabox 3.x platform. Analysts aren’t quite sure how to define Yakabox, but praise it for its ease of use, focus on getting work done, and seamless integration of a broad feature set. Recognized by Gartner as Cool Vendor to Watch.
First private cloud (virtual machine) delivery to IC, a rather painless transition since we'd already been running that way on our own appliance. Delivered initial production release to first group of SMB (commercial small/midsized business) customers, but within a year or so, decide to focus Yakabox exclusively on the Federal market.
Experimenting with lean startup methods, and based on hundreds of conversations with small-to-mid-sized company CEOs, we launch our first derivative product. Plethos is a leadership communication tool designed to keep teams engaged, aligned, and aware around their top priorities. We quickly learn that the same dysfunction causing our target customers to clamor for the tool is the same dysfunction that impedes their buying cycle, but an early customer suggests a unique use for the platform we’d never considered. Meanwhile, after hearing about “the share drive problem” from our Federal customers for a decade or more, we write some exploratory white papers for another derivative product, the YakaDrive.
After further prodding from our Plethos customer, we start cold-calling CISOs. To our surprise, they gladly take the calls – by the dozens. We quickly pivot our discovery efforts, and after a few hundred more conversations, Plethos morphs into CISOBox, providing small-to-midsized organization CISOs with Secure Incident Response and Management.
CISOBox 1.0 is released to early adopters in the higher education market. Soon the product is drawing interest from other sectors. Meanwhile, Yakabox 5.0 is released, causing referrals from existing customers to accelerate, ultimately leading to new projects in new missions and new Agencies.
After hesitating a few years (“someone has to be doing this already”), Yakabod releases YakaDrive alpha, from capabilities already embedded in the Yakabox 5.x platform. When one agency immediately asks for enterprise license pricing, we know we’re onto something and start development of YakaDrive as an independently deployable product in earnest. CISOBox continues to gain momentum in its primary market, but also finds application to Federal Insider Threat programs.
First YakaDrive pilot project successfully delivered, and integrated into unique IC customer environment. Team continues to expand to serve our growing customer base.
Having outgrown our beloved headquarters overlooking Frederick’s Square Corner, we’ll be moving. Scott R enters the process with two requirements: it has to be within an easy walk, and it has to be an upgrade. Success on both accounts! We can’t wait to unveil our new home soon …