Mohit Aron on partners enjoying triple-digit growth, what founding two firms has taught him about leadership, and how he's using a mega funding round to expand in Asia next year
The CEO of hyperconverged secondary storage vendor Cohesity is preparing the groundwork for an expansion into the Asian market next year, using his eye-catching $250m funding round from heavy-hitter investors Cisco, HPE and SoftBank Vision Fund.
Mohit Aron told CPI that he has been putting the money, which was raised five months ago, to use facilitating Cohesity's goal to be a truly multi-cloud vendor.
"We already support Azure, AWS and Google Cloud, and we are now looking to use the investment in us to go heavily into Asia…We are absolutely looking at Alibaba," he said.
He added that this expansion path is being made easier by "not having any direct competitors".
"I think most people will agree that data is the most valuable resource in the world, and yet the underlying infrastructure to support it is very fragmented," he said.
"Just like when the smartphone came out, it didn't have any direct competitors because no-one did the same thing. Similarly we're displacing backups such as Veeam."
Aron (pictured) and his EMEA channel boss Johannes Kunz said that the firm plans further expansion in EMEA.
"We're very focused on our key markets in Germany, France and the UK now," Kunz said.
"But we also see that Italy has a lot of growth potential and so too, in Spain.
"We want more partners but we are not like other vendors; we don't want hundreds of partners in every geography.
"Of course we expect some investment from them, but we give them good margins [10 to 20 per cent] and access to a huge market of almost $60bn."
Cohesity has made bold claims about the extent to which its current EMEA partners have grown with the vendor.
It maintains that in FY2018, 81 per cent of Cohesity's partners grew their business in excess of 100 per cent, while 75 per cent grew their business by more than 200 per cent.
When asked what is driving Cohesity's success with channel firms, Aron was reflective about what he calls a leadership culture of simplicity.
"Success starts with the vision itself; we simplify backups," he said.
"In the market today, we have so many different vendors that are used to put together an enterprise backup solution.
"So we come in with a simple message. We offer one platform to simplify it all. We can consolidate file shares, public storage, analytics, and one UI…People see the value in that vision of simplicity and savings."
Aron is no stranger to leading a fast-growing channel vendor, being the co-founder of hyperconverged primary storage unicorn Nutanix.
He left day-to-day operations in 2013 to "solve another problem" and found Cohesity in 2013.
"I like to say that I like building companies a little bit conservatively first, until you are what I call ‘repeatable'," he said.
"Then when you can hire more and more salespeople who can sell with more and more customers without input from headquarters, you can press on that gas and invest in more innovation."
Aron left before Nutanix's IPO. So is he likely to stick it out for another chance at a storage IPO with him at the helm?
"I can't comment on that, but I think most people like to think of an IPO as an exit. And in my mine it's just a milestone. I think Cohesity has lots and lots more years to innovate…
"It'll happen when it'll happen but it won't be an exit for me."