Mihir Shah: 5 Things Founders Should Know Before You Start a Great Company

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Mihir Shah StorCentric

Mihir Shah is the co-founder and CEO of StorCentric. For over 20 years, he has gained “leadership experience in M&A, finance and technology.”

Previously, Mihir Shah has “served as VP of Corporate Development and Strategy at Brocade.” He has also held “sales and corporate development roles at IBM.”

Mihir Shah has earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. Later, he received an MBA from the University of California, Irvine. Then he went on to get his postgraduate degree from Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania.

Before becoming an entrepreneur, Mihir Shah lived “in several parts of the United States as my father was finishing up his medical training.”

When his family settled in California, Mihir Shah became interested in technology. Then he began his career in “investment banking and private equity.” Then he worked at IBM, where he “held roles in Corporate Development, Finance and Sales.”

After IBM, Mihir Shah went to Brocade, where he worked as “Managing Director and VP of the Corporate Development & Strategy.”

Mihir Shah was also “responsible for setting the strategic direction of the company, M&A, and venture capital investments.”

With StorCentric, Mihir Shah led development and procurement of a “set of solutions that fulfill the need for managing the data management of on-premises, cloud and hybrid storage environments.”

Check out more interviews with tech executives here.

I have always had an interest in technology particularly the explosive data growth we are seeing today. Mihir Shah, StorCentric

Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Mihir Shah: I was born in India and as a family of immigrants, we lived in several parts of the United States as my father was finishing up his medical training. We eventually settled in California, which being a hub for innovation and technology, helped shaped my interests. I started my career in investment banking and private equity and also held roles in Corporate Development, Finance and Sales at IBM. After IBM, I was at Brocade as Managing Director and VP of the Corporate Development & Strategy and responsible for setting the strategic direction of the company, M&A, and venture capital investments.

Jerome Knyszewski: What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Mihir Shah: I have always had an interest in technology particularly the explosive data growth we are seeing today. My “Aha Moment” was when I realized as companies grew in size, the focus on customer experience would tend to drop. The market was lacking a data storage management company with a holistic approach to data management with battle tested, high-quality solutions with a focus on customer experience. StorCentric has developed and acquired a set of solutions that fulfill the need for managing the data management of on-premises, cloud and hybrid storage environments.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Mihir Shah: StorCentric has had a rapid pace of acquisitions, and integration from a cultural, technological and operational view can be a challenge. However, we have cultivated a team that understands our strategy and a playbook with a rigorous due diligence process to mitigate these risks. The drive to continue is difficult to pinpoint, but some of it is experiences, the drive of my immigrant parents and just knowing that difficult times will indeed pass. One book I recommend to everyone is “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz.

I like to focus on a growth mindset which is essential to grit and resilience.

Jerome Knyszewski: So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Mihir Shah: We just finished our 5th acquisition in the past couple of months. I like to focus on a growth mindset which is essential to grit and resilience. I see challenges as an opportunity to learn, not obstacles to overcome.

Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Mihir Shah: I went into the office on a weekend, triggered the alarm and I did not know the code. Needless to say, I caused quite a bit of commotion as security personnel were notified on a Saturday morning. Lesson learned, know your security codes!

I see challenges as an opportunity to learn, not obstacles to overcome. Mihir Shah

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”? Please share a story or an example for each.

Mihir Shah:

  1. Nausea and stress are normal. There have been days during my journey as a CEO where I felt sick to my stomach. Countless hours configuring deal structures, terms and revenue numbers kept me up at night. Each hurdle we passed, the nausea subsided and became less noticeable. There are highs and lows. Understand that the lows will pass.
  2. Learn quickly, make decisions even faster. Learn from your network, books, customers, and industry events. Then, take these data points and increase the velocity of your decision making. One of the first things I learned was to spend most of your time listening to your customers, and make quick product decisions.
  3. Keep all strategic options open. It is often difficult to think of forks in the road when you have a straight and narrow path planned. For example, if you are looking to efficiently capitalize your business, talk to banks, investment bankers, commercial bankers and other investment funds. When a fork in the road appears, you will have multiple options.
  4. Communication is extremely time consuming, but critical. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion on everything, from the office layout to product specifications. This allows employees to foster an open communication forum with you and be comfortable around you. You will gain valuable insights, feedback and recommendations from team members. Eventually, this transparency will allow for honest reflections on what is working and most importantly, what is not working in the business.
  5. Culture is hard work, harder than creating a new product. As an acquisitive company, with 5 acquisitions in 3 years, there has been quite a bit of effort to build a cohesive culture, and at times can be challenging. This is an ongoing effort. It is equally important to be introspective, and open to new and diverse ideas that acquired companies may bring to StorCentric. Every year, we examine our culture as a company by evaluating our core values and communicating this across the organization.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Mihir Shah: The best place to follow me would be on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/mihirhshah/), Twitter (@Mihir_h_Shah), and Instagram (@shahmmelier).

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

 

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