The New Stack Podcast

How Idit Levine’s Athletic Past Fueled‘s Startup

Episode Summary

Idit Levine’s tech journey originated in an unexpected place: a basketball court. As a seventh grader in Israel, playing in hoops  tournaments definitely sparked her competitive side. “I was basically going to compete with all my international friends for two minutes without parents, without anything,” Levine said. “I think it made me who I am today. It’s really giving you a lot of confidence to teach you how to handle situations … stay calm and still focus.” Developing that calm and focus proved an asset during Levine’s subsequent career in professional basketball in Israel, and when she later started her own company. In this episode of The Tech Founder Odyssey podcast series, Levine, founder and CEO of, an application networking company with a $1 billion valuation, shared her startup story. The conversation was co-hosted by Colleen Coll and Heather Joslyn of The New Stack

Episode Notes

Idit Levine’s tech journey originated in an unexpected place: a basketball court. As a seventh grader in Israel, playing in hoops  tournaments definitely sparked her competitive side.


“I was basically going to compete with all my international friends for two minutes without parents, without anything,” Levine said. “I think it made me who I am today. It’s really giving you a lot of confidence to teach you how to handle situations … stay calm and still focus.”


Developing that calm and focus proved an asset during Levine’s subsequent career in professional basketball in Israel, and when she later started her own company. In this episode of The Tech Founder Odyssey podcast series, Levine, founder and CEO of, an application networking company with a $1 billion valuation, shared her startup story.


The conversation was co-hosted by Colleen Coll and Heather Joslyn of The New Stack


After finishing school and service in the Israeli Army, Levine was still unsure of what she wanted to do. She noticed her brother and sister’s fascination with computers. Soon enough, she recalled,  “I picked up a book to teach myself how to program.”


It was only a matter of time before she found her true love: the cloud native ecosystem. “It's so dynamic, there's always something new coming. So it's not boring, right? You can assess it, and it's very innovative.”


Moving from one startup company to the next, then on to bigger companies including Dell EMC where she was chief technology officer of the cloud management division, Levine was happy seeking experiences that challenged her technically. “And at one point, I said to myself, maybe I should stop looking and create one.”

Learning How to Pitch

Winning support for demanded that the former hoops player acquire an unfamiliar skill: how to pitch. Levine’s company started in her current home of Boston, and she found raising money in that environment more of a challenge than it would be in, say, Silicon Valley.


It was difficult to get an introduction without a connection, she said:  “I didn't understand what pitches even were but I learned how … to tell the story. That helped out a lot.”


Founding was not about coming up with an idea to solve a problem at first. “The main thing at, and I think this is the biggest point, is that it's a place for amazing technologists, to deal with technology, and, beyond the top of innovation, figure out how to change the world, honestly,” said Levine.


Even when the focus is software, she believes it’s eventually always about people. “You need to understand what's driving them and make sure that they're there, they are happy. And this is true in your own company. But this is also [true] in the ecosystem in general.”


Levine credits the company’s success with its ability to establish amazing relationships with customers – has a renewal rate of 98.9% – using a very different customer engagement model that is similar to users in the open source community. “We’re working together to build the product.”


Throughout her journey, she has carried the idea of a team: in her early beginnings in basketball, in how she established a “no politics” office culture, and even in the way she involves her family with


As for the ever-elusive work/life balance, Levine called herself a workaholic, but suggested that her journey has prepared her for it:  “I trained really well. Chaos is a part of my personal life.”


She elaborated, “I think that one way to do this is to basically bring the company to [my] personal life.  My family was really involved from the beginning and my daughter chose the logos. They’re all very knowledgeable and part of it.”

Episode Transcription

Alex Williams  0:00  

Hey everyone. I'm here at the Open Source summit in Dublin, Ireland, and I have a little news for you. For the past several weeks, we've been talking to founders. As you will know, we're doing this tech founder Odyssey series. Well, now we have some new hosts, Colin Cole and Heather Joslin are taking the reins, and they will be doing the interviews. They have a great style very much down to earth interviews with people who are telling their stories about being founders. These are people who are engineers by background software developers, people who really have stories to tell about how they came to where they are today. So check it out the tech founder Odyssey series on the new stag bakers with Heather Jocelyn and Colin Cole.


You're listening to the new stack makers, a podcast made for people who develop, deploy and manage at scale software. For more conversations and articles, go to the new stack dot I O. All right now on with the show. Hi, and


Heather Joslyn  1:14  

welcome to the new Stax latest podcast series, the tech founder Odyssey part of our Maker series in which we speak with some of the most interesting technical startup creators in the cloud native industry. I'm joined by my new stack colleague and co host Colleen Cole. Hi, Colleen.


Colleen Coll  1:30  

Hello, Heather. Glad to be here.


Heather Joslyn  1:32  

Excellent. Well, today we're talking with a DT Levine, founder and CEO of, which focuses on application networking from edge to service edge indeed started the company in 2017. And last year at the site's revenues triple its customers include T Mobile pega, ADP, BMW, American Express and It's now backed by Ultimaker capital Redpoint Ventures and True Ventures with a $1 billion valuation, we'll be asking a Dede about the process of starting And how her journey has unfolded in a minute. But just to set the stage for DT had a long history in cloud infrastructure, and open source and both startup and large enterprise companies. She served as the CTO of the MEC cloud management division and held technical leadership roles at Dynamic ops, VMware, cloud switch and Verizon. Welcome to DT.


Idit Levine  2:28  

Hey, thanks so much. Thank you for having me


Heather Joslyn  2:30  

here. Thank you for joining us. So I want to get into your journey with tech in a minute. But I something that popped out at me when I was researching to get ready for this conversation that you thought about being wanting to be a basketball player in professional basketball player. Yeah, it may be a bit of a maybe bit of a stereotype. But we don't often think of software engineers as you know, having a deep history in in sports. But so tell us a little bit about what what role did sports and competition in your life to shape the person you became? Yeah, no,


Idit Levine  3:03  

I think so. Honestly, I'm a very competitive person. If I'm competitive again, like writing the best card, or you know, clean up the house, whatever you basically want, they were very competitive. And I think that, you know, always putting myself at goals in order to get better and better. So I think when I was young, that was a really good way for me to kind of like, you know, be more relaxed about competition. So you know, my parents sent me to a basketball game honestly, I actually wanted to do that. That's that's like, came for me, I went, I was always on the court playing and learning and playing with a lot of boys because at least when I was playing in Israel, it wasn't very popular that woman's were playing or cares about playing. And we basically was playing all these there, you know, getting better and better. And then eventually, I went to a team and also to a special school that specializes in, in sport. So that that honestly was a lot of fun. We had a lot of tournaments all over the world, we met a lot of people. That was a really, really interesting, honestly, very happy child. And then afterwards, I also went to their professional team in Israel. I mean, honestly, it was a blast. I mean, it's like, it's teaching us so much. I mean, you know, just think about me, I don't know, seventh grade person that basically going to compete with all their friends International, you know, to win and without parents without anything. Honestly, it was it. I think it made me who I am today. It's really it's giving you a lot of confidence. It's teach you how to handle situation that sometimes very stressed, like you're losing, for instance, and stay calm and still focus. I mean, I personally think that it gave me a lot but mainly I was extremely happy childhood right? Because I did what I really like so


Heather Joslyn  4:45  

and so how did how did you make the turn to technology wise, is it Yeah, kid, how did you get started in meters? Yeah,


Idit Levine  4:52  

I'm not the regular maybe that's the reason I was playing basketball. They're not typical of person or you know that when I was looking you know, I wanted to was computer and when I was young, what happened is I want to say very simple what I am very good and really like is maths and you know the math and that kind of say, you know, question and quiz. That's the stuff that I really like. So I was always turned to this direction. And what happened is that when I finished them in Israel, you have to do an army. So when you finish army, basically, I tried to figure out what I want to do. And honestly, I just wasn't sure, but all my my brother and sister was doing computers. So I kind of like pick up the book, teach myself how to program and start programming. Then after that went to the University of some learning, officially, but basically, I teach myself, which was exactly on Book bubble. So there was a lot of options to work. And then since then, honestly, it was, I found that challenging that to write because it's solving complex problem with multi tenancy and do you know, distributed system, so I fell in love, honestly, and specifically on cloud. So, so So yeah, taught


Colleen Coll  6:02  

yourself how to program, what was the language? What was the first language, you know, it


Idit Levine  6:07  

was that it was Back then. So it was everything that's related to dotnet victim technology, that's where it started. And then I went way, way low to the stack, do you know, all the way to the kernel if we need to? Right. So basically, I'm very, I didn't know. So. So yeah, that's what I was doing. But yeah, as I said, it was, it's mainly mainly, I feel that it was a lot of fun. But when I found the cloud native ecosystem, the open source, that's when I really fell in love. And the reason is, because it's so dynamic, there's always something new coming. So it's not boring, right? There's always some new technology coming, and you can assess it. And it's very innovative server really well, for my, you know, I always want to see what's next. So,


Colleen Coll  6:51  

so take us back to the beginning of solar. I mean, what, when you came up with the idea, what problem were you trying to solve? And what prompted you to create to start


Idit Levine  7:00  

so Yeah, honestly, I think that solar was not about an ID. I wish I can say that it was an abandoned ad, I was in the system in the in the ecosystem quite a while before, I worked in a company that got acquired by a different company. And specifically, there was one company called dynamical. That was, I had a blast there, right? We were building cloud before cloud was called the cloud back then we call it virtualization, we got acquired by VMware. So this is why today's V realized, and it just was the funnest place for me to work because it was very challenging. I had a lot of it was challenged me technically, the, it was just an amazing. So since then, I basically moved to another startup company and another startup company, and then a big company, looking for that experience of being challenging, you know, technologies, then don't think about anything else. Besides the technology, the pure know, quality, so no, anything else. And I think that, honestly, in one point, I said to myself, maybe I should stop looking at just create one. So the main thing in Salah, and I think this is the biggest point is that it's a place for amazing technologists, to deal with technology, and beyond the top of innovation, and figure out how to change the world, honestly. So the culture is very different. It's very open, and will never come to someone who said, Hey, here's what we're going to do. It's always going to be, here's what I know. And based off what I know, I think we should do this and this and this, what do you think, and we will talk about it, it's a very different culture. And honestly, this culture of getting a very, very good people to the company, because usually those people is the people that want to change that one to get, you know, I want to make a change that care that interesting, pushing the boundaries of the technology. So that's working really, really well in terms of the culture itself. Now, in terms of the technology, once they did got the money, right. So I raised money. I think that it was very clear in the market that there was a shift between monolithic to micro services. I think that was a clear by then in end of 2017. I think what what most of the people were doing is it was still the point that people will start fight was fighting about where to run those micro services. So there was the idea of running it in Kubernetes versus running it in Docker Swarm, whether running it in Cloud Foundry versus running it in Mesos, mezzos. And that was still the fight. I think that at that point, they already understood that Kubernetes one, so it was clear to me that that's what will happen. So what I tried to figure out is what is the next problem that people will need to solve? And I think that's exactly where we're solo kind of like was focusing on and it was pretty obvious that if you're taking something that it's one big binary and cut it to a lot of small pieces somehow it will need to be read to reconnect, right because now you need to make sure that they're communicating between their each other. You need to make sure that they're doing it in a secure way. You need to make sure that you can see everything that happened because there is a lot of places right now, that this that this request could potentially they go. And that's exactly what I kind of like, dig my eyes. And I said to myself, Okay, that will be the challenges for anybody who are adopting microservices. Definitely, if they're still using also old environment, and how do you connect all of this, this is why we start we basically where we basically focus. And the solution for that. It's, it's not one solution. It's the Gateway, which is the API gateway. It's the mesh service mesh. And it's also the networking lower layer like CNI, like psyllium, for instance. So we basically have a platform that giving you, you know, there's a three pillar to it, it's a gateway, glue, glue, gate gateway, it's call, it's a match glue match, which is basically STL based, both of them are STL based. And the last one is basically, it glue networking are basically based on psyllium. And we basically tight and make it easy to use fits makes sense.


Heather Joslyn  10:53  

I want to go back a little bit to the beginning, when you want to create a startup, you were not finding what you wanted, and you realize you needed to create your own company. I know that one thing I discovered in my research is the name solo came from you being a first one person company, the beginning, what was it like in the beginning? And how did you get people to join you? Like, what, what was


Idit Levine  11:11  

that, like I said, The problem wasn't to get people joining me the problem was first to get the money, right? When you wanted to start a company, you need to raise money. And the problem that I have is that from that point, I already had some open source project that was, you know, I was people knew who I am, or some of them at the start date. But there were people that that new I am in the open source community. And I thought that it would be extremely easy to basically raise money, and the rain, but I was a technologist, not a business person. And when I joined, went to venture definitely in the Boston area where I live and basically asked for money. They were pushing back about, where's your partner? Where's your business partner? Okay, you are the technology, but where is your business partner? And my point was, why do I need a business partner and there's no business yet, right? I'm building a software. So first, let me build it, it will get an attraction, then I can get the business person that I want. Or honestly, I'm pretty, you know, I'm by myself could be a very good business person. And that wasn't fly like they didn't like it at all. And they basically decided not to give us money. Give me money at that point. So when I was looking for a name, this name was an option. And I said to myself, You know what, I am doing it by myself. So I didn't get eventually that money from to venture was the best venture ever and pony who is the best partner ever. And, and they believe in us. And once they gave us honestly, to hire people to write the software, and honestly, to become a business person, that wasn't something that was a challenge after the raid main challenge was to start at the beginning. Because the beginning you need, you need to give them confidence that you can, once you actually showing results, that's not that hard. So as you can see, right now, we're a billion dollar valuation. It's mainly based on performance, right? I mean, we have a lot of customer very happy.


Heather Joslyn  12:56  

So. So yeah, ultimately, you've been successful raising very successful at raising money. I mean, do you have advice for other tech people that come from a technology rather than a business or finance background when seeking funding as an early stage startup?


Idit Levine  13:10  

So I think if you're thinking serious, that is interesting. Number one is, you know, it's very helpful. If you have connection, like usually, it's very hard to get ahold introduction to eventually they will never give you money, or most likely will not give you money. So that's one thing. But I think that mainly, the problem with me was two problems. Number one is that I tried to raise in Boston back then. And honestly, usually company like us is in this valley, right? The secret of Silicon Valley. So that was a little bit challenging, too, because there weren't a lot of venture, the venture that was here weren't typically invested in that kind of companies. So I think that was the first challenge. When I moved to the valley, when I basically went to raise in the valley, it was easier. So find someone, there is a lot of venture today that that's their business, they're basically looking for the technologists, because they believe that this is the hardest to find. And basically, they basically giving money to them and help them build the business part. So there is a lot of venture of those. And but you know that I learned a lot, right? I mean, I learned how to pitch I wasn't good. At the beginning. I didn't understand what pitch isn't right. I learned how to, you know what they care of? I mean, right, or how to tell the story. So I think that that that's also helped a lot.


Colleen Coll  14:21  

Yep. Going back, you mentioned, you wanted to create a place for amazing technology. So of course, that means finding the people to make the place amazing. So when you try to find these amazing people, what do you look for when you're hiring?


Idit Levine  14:36  

Oh, that's a good question. So the first thing is that it's not only to find the amazing technologist, there are many technologies, it's usually people that are really passionate about what they're doing. And when they're really passionate, they want to be heard. And some time this is something that is not going really well in big companies or even some companies that they are less open. So what was more important to me is to find a place honestly that I wanted to Because an engineer and I was very frustrated engineer, honestly. So why was frustrated, I was frustrated because I felt that my ideal place to work will be a place that, first of all, I can make an impact. People care about what I think. Number two, I want it to be paid well, right. Number three, I wanted to learn, I always wanted to learn, I wanted to, you know, it was very important to me to make my you know, my business, but like, I wanted always to get better, right that. So it was very important to me a place that will be able to learn all the time. And the last one is I said, people would valued what I'm doing. So I appreciate it. Right. And I think that seriously solar, it's all those four things in the point that, you know, as I said, it's all open. And I think that the best way to prove that this is the best place people rarely leaving solar people joining solar, but there is very rarely people that living. So I think that that's exactly what created. Now, let's put that aside, because that's what we created right now, that was very hard to create it at the beginning when you're one person trying to hire people. So honestly, it was a challenge. So honestly, I have two people that I worked for them forever, that I knew very well and immediately join me after it. So it's called the new Val. And they amazing technologies like Scott is in the city office do amazing, amazing technology. So we had a good, you know, foundation. But now you need to write I am I have people and what you will discover is that the fact that your money in the bank doesn't mean that good people want to come work for you. So the idea of friends. Exactly, right. So when I try to reach out to people, for instance, with Google, or VMware, all those great places, no one wants to come, right. They didn't feel that this is something that you want to do what I did at the beginning, I sat up, and I brought few resources that honestly weren't that great, right? Which ended it to let him go. But then it's kind of like it me that I have to option right now. It is sad of the quality. But honestly, it's not really going well with my personality, I want to be the best I need good people around me. So that's I didn't feel that this is a good idea to settle the quality or on the other side is to take young people that are very promising, but don't know the technology yet. Now, it worked really, really well, specifically for us, because everything that we did in the technology was new anyway. So it's not that those people could have, you know, anybody even even mature people will new will not know that technology. So what we did, we basically hire a lot of young people, honestly, almost straight from the college, very successful one people will finish the list, you know, didn't list in, you know, tough and you know, we are in Boston, so that was relatively easy to find University around that there's very good people, and we teach them, basically, that's why it was important, the beginning that all these generic will be in Boston next to us, because we wanted to teach them. But that works. Fantastic. And honestly, a lot of those people are still in the company, and they are the best we created an amazing people that basically care and good and knowledgeable and, you know, amazing, amazing people. So that's why making solo very special.


Colleen Coll  18:05  

I've always been a big believer in hiring personalities, amazing people and in training skills. I mean, you can't go wrong with that.


Heather Joslyn  18:12  

Yes, yes. Now that's yeah, how many? How many people do you have now in your companies? Great question.


Idit Levine  18:17  

I think last, yeah, last I checked, I think we were 130 people. In fact, honestly, we are growing like crazy. Because we grow companies. So I think that probably on the last quarter, it's probably because we, I don't know, probably add another 30 people, you know, like we really, really hiring Yeah, because we, we have a lot of customers, we need to make sure that they are we keep getting, you know, the service that they need.


Colleen Coll  18:43  

That's good to know that people are listening and probably love to hear that you are hiring and you're looking for one of my other questions was is now that you're, you have this great group of people of 130 people, amazing people that work at an amazing technology. I mean, how's your mindset changed now that you're scaling? And how's that going from being solo? To not?


Idit Levine  19:07  

Yeah, so now we're a group of salaries? Yeah, yeah. I think that my role changed dramatically anyway, right? Because as a CEO, you know, when you're starting you're doing it all right, you're basically the person who needs to do everything in the company, my job as the manager in generally is to enable so my job is to do everything I can in order to make the smart people that work in the company and basically successful so if that's the case, you know, the beginning enablement mean everything I mean seriously like order the food to the office, you know, be the marketing the salesperson hire evangelists right software if you name honestly do it all right, basically, because there is no other one's going to do this. As the company is starting to grow and be more successful you need to basically distinct that I did this did that I tried to figure out, what should they give, right? What should the stuff that I need to focus on? just given me personally, as someone who's came from technology, and product, I knew that that I can handle very well. But where I need more help, maybe Oh, it will help me if someone else that is more knowledgeable will take over will be marketing and sales. So that will be basically the first hour that I did was around marketing and sales, right? So someone to sell the product and create an organization and someone will do marketing. So that was the first thing and then slowly by slowly when you started growing more and more and more, suddenly you have more and more stuff to do, you need to start giving everything right. So slowly by steady will hire someone to run engineering, who is someone to run out, you know, a product, you know, HR where you know, a CFO, it's basically a lot of those functionality now need to be inside the company instead of sometime you could you know, CFO in the beginning, we just basically were outsourcing. So I think it's changing a lot that now as this again, CEO, if before that, you know, if I wanted to do something it was to take the 10 people in the room and say, here's what we're going to do. Now it's their fan, how do you communicating? How do you make sure that people will do what you want? Now there is a lot of individual in the company, very, very smart people in the company, but you still want them to continue going to the same direction? Because if not, we will become those big company that not moving. So that's the challenge, right is how do you scale it keep still the culture of you know, honestly, of the culture, as I said, in solid, my opinion is the best thing and being the differentiated from other. Right? What is our core value? Are we making sure to continue to act as a group and enjoy honestly, like a family and to the good into the bad paid away? Right? I mean, even if there is some problem, as a family, I want everybody to come and help. But also keep you know, everybody aligned. And I think this is something that that as I said, my way of doing it, is that just with data, I'm a big believer in data, I think that you know, I don't want people to question why we're doing what we're doing. So my job is to buy in, it's not my decision, it's our decision. And the way it's working in Solo is that, as I say that when we talk the right way, I never going to come to someone said to me, here's what you're going to do. It's going to be here's what I know, and let us a grid of what we're going to do about that. And I think that if you come in, you know, with a good, you know, convention, people will, you know, I believe that people are smart. And if you give them all the data, everyone will make the same decision. And that's exactly what happening. It's so I don't think that you're getting if you're doing this is that if everybody know where we're going and why we're doing what we're doing. So that they don't need me to make the to make that decision.


Colleen Coll  22:33  

Did you find it hard to let go? I mean, this is a good question is when you do you learn to trust your team, from where how you were, in the sense controlling the whole group, but now you have this amazing group of people that you know, can do the job, but then you're scaling and you're not you have to have a different kind of mindset and way of doing things. I mean, how did you learn how to let go and, and just be trustworthy? Of your amazing group of people? Yeah,


Idit Levine  23:05  

I think that the way, the way I did, it is very simple. When I'm hiring a new person, for instance, to do something that I was doing before, the first thing that I will do is I'm going to stay close, you know, I will let him take over, but I will stay close. And mainly because I feel that, as I said, I'm a big data driven person, which means that he doesn't know the history. Right? So sometimes he getting a very, you know, joining right now where you're getting get this snapshot of what's going on here. But there's usually you know, we have people it's all about people eventually, if you don't know why, you know, people acting the way they act, you know why, you know, history is extremely important point. So I think I'm mainly joining because of this, and and then I'm listening, you know, I'm close, you know, I'm joining the demeaning in the beginning, I'm moving on the responsibility, but I'm still close. And then slowly by slowly, I'm studying only too simple, right? So how can we tell those meaning of studying more and more to see that it's working well, and then in that fun, that's it? Like I mean, you know, basically, if I see that everything is going to the right direction. You know, I rarely will come over continuous simpler in there. But, you know, I know that it's in good hands. And again, I think yeah, I think it's working really, really well. And again, you can by the way, if in that case, suddenly I see that there is something that I'm sampling it, there's some boringness, they never come again. And then my next center will be how can I help? Like if there is a problem? How can I help? And then I think that that next right? If it's still not working, then I will take over and I will say okay, let me fix it. So that's kind of like the process of me working. But look, it's funny, you know, all I learned in this ecosystem, and this is important. It's actually very interesting and related to my personal life, is that it's all about people. Everything is about people. We talking about software, but it's all about people. Because eventually there's people that have need and wheels and you need to understand what's driving them and make sure that they're there they are happy Be, and this is true in your own company. But this is also in the ecosystem in general? And what driving people to do and how do you make sure that you make all of them happy, right? Is there a solution to make all of them happy, and there is a trade off all the time. So I think that I'm personally, not a lot of people knows about it, but I have a kids on the, on the spectrum. So with autism, and I think that that's teach me a lot about people. And it's put me in a very strange situation. And Melee was really, really important to me to understand why people hacktivists why she is acting like this, right. And I think that that's making me very, very patient person. And I usually, if something, there's something I'm always trying to figure out why before I'm judging, and I'm trying to, you know, some way more, you know, less less than less than judgment. And I think that this is and then try to help with a lot of patients. And I think that this is something that, you know, that helps a lot in running organization, make sure to keep the people happy, honestly. But again, it's not only the company inside, right, we are working in the ecosystem of the cloud native ecosystem. How is that going to work? What driving people, right? And I think that this is important thing that I picked up.


Colleen Coll  26:09  

That's fantastic. We know


Heather Joslyn  26:11  

that being a CEO of a company that's, you know, startup can be very consuming. Have you been able to find work life balance? And how do you know that silly


Colleen Coll  26:21  

question? She asked. Yes, she answered it like honestly.


Idit Levine  26:25  

Yes. No, I'm a workaholic. Honestly, I'm passionate about what I'm doing. And because of passion, that's all I want to do. I don't have OBS, right. I mean, that's what I'm, that's my own. It's my own business story. And erotica is done this and I can, you know, that's what I want to do. So, so that's number one, which is very, you know, I really believe that that's the only way to be good. Because your question and you're working hard is that that's my, my, my view of the life. Everyone said that they do have two kids and a dog. And, you know, there is definitely crazy stuff. But listen, as I said in my life never was easy. Like, as I said, I do we are now I'm originally from Israel, which means that we are here by ourself. I have I was in a with my daughter and other challenges, I can tell you that had a lot of challenges in my life, but really, really, really make me stronger. Which means that honestly, right now, it's something like that happened in the company or something piece of cake, because I already done stuff that are way more crazy. I was in a very, very tough situation before. So this is I'm very good in in endlink very calmly, in a situation like this, because honestly, I have to be nit trained really well to be as part of my chaos life, my personal life. So now there is no there is no balance whatsoever. I think that one way to do this is basically bring the company to the person life. I mean, my family is was really involved from the beginning. You know, my daughter chose the logos, my son, you know, so they're very knowledgeable and, and far ahead, care, right. But you know, of course, they are paying a price but there's no question about it. But this is, you know, this is me with the guilt


Colleen Coll  28:12  

your daughter chose the logo,


Idit Levine  28:14  

he did not the look of the one of the Logos it was so, as I said, the kids are very, very talented, but the one that is actually on the spectrum. She's an artist. So she's, you know, she's she has a very good eye for it. So yeah, everybody involved, right, my husband to help writing blogs and you know, and you know, the first works done in my house right? And, you know, until today when people coming to the Boston area, you know, we're doing parties in my house and so on. Like it's a real family kind of like a you know, they know it we know each other very well and people don't my family and I know people family from the company, so it's really, you know, really care about that. Keep it there. The cultures together. So So yeah, and I think that's out but at least they know and understand. But yeah, they are definitely paying a price.


Heather Joslyn  29:03  

What's next for you in your company? What are you and what are you learning about yourself in this in this journey? Last Five Years of this company?


Idit Levine  29:11  

Yeah, so first of all, personally, I learned at lunch, right? I mean, you know, when I started the company, I was very naive and said, Oh, I you know, immediately they will give me money and immediately everything would be awesome and everybody so some founder told me one time that it's like a roller coaster. I think that that would sell mainly wasn't the highest loads most of the time so we didn't have a lot of you know, again, a lot of problems as a company but what I learned let's see, I mean, I as I said, I understand way more knowledgeable today about the life of what founder mean, what company made what the what the market mean, more realistic. You know, how I sold stuff for I had no clue in terms of, you know, me personally look, I had no though that I can do, as I said to you, I had a very, not easy life. So honestly, I was very positive about I can do it like I knew I was very. And that's, you know, that just, it just learned that I'm, you know, continue being a strong person who can do that. And, you know, an end of challenges. What else there learn of or learn? Yeah, I learned a lot as a person before I started the company. Like, for instance, I remember that the one of the things that I started the company for, and I said, I don't want politics, I don't want anything, it's like, we will be here to be awesome. And I think someone told me there, you know that there is like three people in the room, there is already politics. And I said that not in my style. Has it because there is zero tolerance for it. But it's the other part politics is about of what meet people wants and drive. And, and I think that I learned that really well. I think that the another thing that I was very naive before, when I started the ecosystem look, I was about to open this project, it will be very successful. And I don't get like it's not about the user, it's more about being in this ecosystem and creating a great technology. But you know, it's really, really sad if you're creating a great technology and no one using it. So I think that when I started sold on my mind change totally to, I want customer or even using not customer, but I want people to want to use my software. And here's why. Because it's making the software so much better. Because you know, I can guess and try. But when people actually putting in production and running, and it's crazy scale, that's when you actually know that your product is good. So it's a very, very, very different engagement model with customers. And we actually using our customers and user as we're using in the open source community, we're working on this together, there is no a sales team. And then you know, they're the engineers who are building the product. And product between them, we really have you're working with we're working with a way of basically each of customers is getting a Slack channel that is private to him. And we all of us is on a this basically making sure that they are extremely successful. And I think that this is why our renewal rate is something like 98.9. It's because because we are creating an amazing relationship. And honestly, there is so much I can tell you stories about how successful a customer become and how they are getting promoted in their job. And how honestly fulfilling this is to know that you know, I went like I went last week to London to visit my partner there with my with my daughter, one of my daughter, and basically we were working and I said, Oh, this is our customer, oh, this is a customer. That honestly, you know, people are consuming our software all the time. Right? If it's a bank, if it's a when you're ordering food or pizza, right, or if you want it's as which is so fulfilling. So. So I think that this is you know, sometimes I think that as an engineer was totally forgotten, I was all about open source community and find and build innovation and have fun. I think I totally changing the idea of you know where the customer are and how am I bringing them with me to this innovation. I think that was very different than what I thought before I started.


Heather Joslyn  33:08  

Thank you very much for joining us a deep for this conversation. It's been a great conversation and want to thank our listeners for thank you for joining us to this episode of The New Stax podcast series, the tech founders Odyssey, we've been talking to DT Levine, founder and CEO of about how she created her $1 billion company and what she's learned along the way. And thank you to my colleague Colleen for joining us calling call.


Colleen Coll  33:31  

Yes, this was a great conversation. Thank you. I just wanted to share in that. Yeah. Awesome. I learned so much.


Idit Levine  33:38  

Thank you so much. And as I said, we just started so it'll be great to catch up again in the future and see Yeah,


Heather Joslyn  33:45  

absolutely. And, and thank you for listening to the new Stax the tech founders Odyssey. See you next time. Bye, guys.


Alex Williams  33:51  

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