How Alkira Became the Unrivalled Tech Giant in Multi-Cloud Networking?
This is a story of purpose, intuitive vision, and the enduring strive for greatness.
It's also the story of two Pakistani brothers whose careers turned out to be nothing they could ever imagine.
For Amir and Atif Khan, the ultimate professional dream was to earn their living by playing squash. It was not until their teenage days that the brothers realized their mission might be larger than life and far more rewarding than they had anticipated.
Spreading their wings, Amir and Atif left Pakistan for the competitive US business world. A decade later, the brothers boasted a massive experience in consulting and could easily read both the customers' and market's needs. The only thing they had to do was to break out of their business chains and translate their knowledge onto an invention of their own.
The fruits of their labor paid off when the brothers joined forces to create Alkira, a company that connects customers to the widespread online community and does so faster, smarter, and stronger!
Read more about this success story here:
Entrepreneurs to Be
Amir and Atif grew up in a middle-class family in one of Pakistan's wealthiest cities, Lahore. Their father was a pilot for the Air Force whilst managing a basketball team in his spare time.
Introducing his kids to sports from a young age, both Amir and Atif fell in love with squash. As the older brother, Amir passed on his sports experience to his younger brother. As a result, Atif turned into a serious player at the age of sixteen.
Although both were juggling sports, family life, and obligations, the brothers simultaneously excelled at all of the above.
Before finishing high school, Amir sought out advice from his father on whether to continue playing sports or turn a completely new career leaf. Noticing a tremendous potential in his son, the aircraft pilot encouraged Amir to reconsider a career in sports and aim for electrical engineering instead - and so he did.
During the mid-eighties, Amir flew all the way to the US to pursue an electrical engineering degree. Before he knew it, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Mississippi. Craving for more knowledge in the industry, Amir majored in the same field for his master's in 1989, this time at the University of Colorado.
Impressed with his elder brother's accomplishments, Atif jumped on the bandwagon and acquired a BS in Computer Science from the University of Colorado a few years later.
From playing squash to attending the most prestigious universities, the brothers were more than ready to tackle the hostile corporate world.
Keeping Up With The Internet
In the early 90s, Amir joined the multinational technology company Cisco as a product manager. At the time, the internet was limited to a few users and emails were university-exclusive. This limitation left a spectrum of intellectuals craving to reconnect the globe.
As Amir was one of the first three-hundred workers at Cisco, he enjoyed the privilege of observing the exponential growth of one of the biggest internet companies. Soaking up knowledge from distinguished mentors, he quickly learned to identify customers' needs.
Fresh out of college, Atif joined his brother to work for Cisco as a consulting engineer. Whilst learning, the younger brother continuously analyzed customers' demands, all in order to polish the final design of products.
In the next few years, Amir and Atif continued working for high-tech giants. During this period, Amir became a director of product management at a highly renowned cybersecurity company, called Juniper Networks. Simultaneously, Atif took the role of a product manager for the mobile handsets brand, Alcatel.
Confident that he had mastered every aspect of his job position at Alcatel, in 2005, Atif joined his brother down the line at Juniper Networks. Working for the mogul felt rewarding for the younger sibling but Amir felt sick and tired of the corporate world and decided to give his professional career a makeover. Self-assured of his future success, Amir quit his job and encouraged Atif to join along for a wild ride ahead.
Bye Bye Comfort Zone
In early 2011, Amir quit Juniper Networks, mostly out of a desperate need to individualize and use his professional skills to create a personal project. To do that, that same year, Amir approached an eminent Cisco engineer, Khalid Raza, to discuss the inception of his future venture. Although he didn't know exactly what the venture would revolve around, he was certain that gathering the right team could help him envisage the perfect business idea.
Joined by Khalid, and soon enough by Atif, the three began deliberating on the issues they had encountered while consulting their former customers. What they all agreed on was the obvious and poor corporate network performance. After some digging into the matter, the trio figured that networking deserved a technological revamp.
From then on, Amir, Atif, and Khalid made it their mission to create a cloud-based platform that would enable dynamics and will become an efficient way to configure networks across a wider area.
Stepping out of the comfort zone was not something that Atif and Khalid could do easily. Because of that, both kept their corporate jobs whilst leaving the only risk-taker, Amir, to work on the project on his own and round the clock.
However, as all three men were newbies in the startup world, investors had their doubts. Struggling to raise money for over six months, the three businessmen ultimately came across a passionate venture capitalist, Michael Goguen, who was eager to pitch in and boost their project, Viptela.
Following this seed round, Viptela raised over $108 million over four funding rounds.
Viptela quickly became the leader in its industry, thus standing out from the crowd with its unique SD-WAN, subscription-based, and cloud-first solution.
Surprisingly, in 2017, Cisco acquired Viptela for an incredible $601 million, leaving Amir and Atif fairly richer than before and more determined to use that income wisely.
The Growth Factor
By 2018, Amir and Atif had learned how networking applies to the cloud and were trying to come up with a groundbreaking implementation idea. This time, they asked the crucial question all successful businesses have to ask: how would this venture change people's lives?
Mind mapping their previous customers' needs, the team quickly realized that cloud networking was a hard bite to chew, especially when extended from a single environment into a mix of clouds. Although the majority of their previous customers were moving their applications to the designed cloud, they still lacked a network that is both built for the cloud and simultaneously behaves like it.
The primary concern for Amir and Atif was the method in which they would deliver their product, without urging their customers to purchase hardware or download software.
At the same time, the brothers aimed to simplify cloud usage and yet offer a functional multi-cloud solution to their users.
Working day in and day out for a few months, the brothers created a multi-cloud network with all services implemented in it, thus cementing their market dominance and presenting users with a whole new clouding game level.
In 2018, their efforts paid off when Alkira was launched on the market.
With a name suggesting 'a happy place in the sun', Alkira was a product two years in the making and ready to break the tech market with newness, deliverance, and quality.
Alkira's emergence was crowned with an incredible $76 million funding, led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, which would help the company introduce a whole new product, Alkira Cloud Services Exchange, thus meeting the global market demands.
Today, Alkira CSX is the only global network cloud providing a service of its kind. Alkira boasts an annual revenue of $3 million, which indicates its immense growth over a one-year span. What is more, the company employs over fifty workers in their headquarters, located in San Jose, California.
With their latest venture, Amir and Atif proved that monumental success rarely comes out of comfort zones. Instead, to play in the tech A-league, you'll have to trust your vision, trust the process, and ultimately - trust your gut!