Kumar Saurabh grew up in India and attained his undergraduate degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Around the time of his graduation, a professor from Columbia University reached out to Saurabh to see if he’d be interested in becoming a research assistant. “I looked at the research profile and was impressed, so I ended up moving to the U.S. and starting a PhD program at Columbia,” he says.
Within a year, Saurabh realized he wasn’t cut out for the PhD life. “I realized I didn’t want to become a professor. It just didn’t align with my long-term career goals. I like building things.” He left the research program and looked for a job instead.
“My timing was terrible,” says Saurabh. “It was 2001 and the tech industry was experiencing a lot of layoffs. I would reach out to people about a job and they would tell me they loved my background, but their companies were under a hiring freeze at the time. Then I got a call from a small startup company called ArcSight. I met with them and they liked me, I liked the team. I really liked Hugh Njemanze, who was the CTO and founder of ArcSight. Even though I didn’t know the business feasibility of the company, I liked the challenge that they were solving so I joined ArcSight as a software engineer. I eventually ended up running the analytics and solutions team.”
After ArcSight had its IPO, Saurabh decided to start his own company, which he says was “a two guys in a garage kind of thing.” It proved to be both a challenge and a good learning experience. “One of the lessons I learned is that doing a start-up is hard, no matter if it’s small or big,” says Saurabh. “You might as well pick a big problem to solve, right? If you succeed, you succeed at something really big. It’s going to be hard one way or another. The first idea that I chose to address, well, in hindsight it took me about 12 months to figure that out. And it also took me about 12 months to figure out all the things I did not know about doing a start-up, but somehow along the way I kind of figured what I needed to be good at.”
Even while he pressed ahead with his own company, Saurabh joined a company called Mint.com. “I wasn’t ready to shut down my own company yet, but I took a job a Mint.com,” he says. “I was doing two start-ups at the same time, which is crazy, and I advise people never to do that. Just do one thing, and do it really well!”
Saurabh learned quite a bit about product design while at Mint.com. “The great part of being at Mint was that it was a consumer company, so there was a focus on the simplicity of the design,” he says. “That is something that is now coming, bit by bit, into all types of products. People talk about the consumerization of IT. In many ways that includes picking up some of the design ideas from the consumer world to produce an intuitive, easy to use product that anyone – even non-technical people – can readily use.”
Within a year of Saurabh joining Mint.com, the company was acquired by Intuit. Preferring a small company culture, Saurabh left Intuit to co-found Sumo Logic with a colleague from his ArcSight days, Christian Beedgen. “Cloud was taking off, and a lot of big data architectures were becoming reality and had gone from research paper to successful implementations,” says Saurabh. “We were in this field of log management and IT analytics, and we thought we could start a company in the cloud using a very new architecture, and that’s what led to Sumo Logic.”
Saurabh ran the engineering and operations for Sumo Logic. The company had good growth and he stayed for six years, but then he started getting what he calls “the familiar itch” to do something else. He had an idea he felt very passionate about and thought about it for months before deciding to give his new venture 150% of his attention. That marked the start of LogicHub, where Saurabh is the CEO today.
Here’s how he describes the company: “LogicHub is a platform for SecOps teams to use automation as a force multiplier. With the help of automation, security teams can do alert triage, threat hunting and incident response ten times more efficiently and more effectively.”
Having worked at a few startups and founding two companies himself, Saurabh shares his outlook on what it takes to have a successful venture. “Whether you’re going to succeed or not is going to be dependent on how effective you are at building teams of really strong people. To bootstrap a company, you reach out to a network, you pull in the people, but you also want to constantly be great at recruiting people. No matter how brilliant you are, you can’t do most of the things the company needs, so you need to hire and continuously recruit really strong people.” He says to attract the top talent, it takes more than money; it takes a company culture that is very encouraging and thriving. Saurabh is careful to cultivate the kind of culture where people can really thrive.
On the personal side, Saurabh is married with two children, an eight-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. “I feel pretty blessed in a way that there is a harmony between work and life,” he says. “I don’t even call it work-life balance because where is the balancing point? For me, it might sound like I’m a workaholic, but the reality is, my work and life naturally transcend into one another. One hour I’m working, then I’m just doing something with the kids. It has taken a bit of time to get into the groove where it all works out just fine.”
When he has the time, Saurabh loves to play poker. “When I was a kid, I loved playing chess. It’s a very cerebral game, it’s a very analytical game. You calculate the moves and you figure out all of that,” he says. “Now poker, this game has even better qualities. What I like is that it requires studying the people at the table. People-watching, you can call it. That’s the most fun part of being at a poker table.”
While his poker games might be a bit of a gamble and all for fun, Saurabh likes being in control of bringing his ideas and his companies to fruition.