Five Questions with Backupify's Rob May

Another in an occasional series from IF Blog - see Daniel Tammet's email interview here - I asked Rob May, CEO of Backupify and a former Louisville resident, five questions. Besides growing a successful young company, Rob is an acquaintance and like me, an introvert. Thanks Rob!

What is Backupify? - Backupify is a backup and restore application for Software as a Service.  One third of all data loss is user error, and that doesn't go away if you move to cloud applications.  Backupify protects you from data loss due to hacking, user error, and other things that may be outside of the control of your SaaS vendor.

Can you recall an event or series of events that led you to the idea that would become Backupify? - The original idea came from a friend who wanted to backup his Flickr account.  I built the software as a side project, and it just kept getting more popular.

What have you learned as the CEO of a growing start up that you didn't know before? - I could write an entire book to answer this question, but for now, I will say the two most important things are:

1.    Having the right people is critical, and hard to do.
2.    You always have problems, it’s just that the nature of those problems changes as the company grows.  For example, in the early days you have adoption problems but in the later days you have scaling problems.

Harvard has suggested that in “dynamic, unpredictable environments” introverted people are often more effective leaders than their extroverted counterparts. Two-third of senior corporate executives, according to a 2006 survey it cites, believe introversion is a barrier to leadership. As a self-described introvert, what advantages and disadvantages does introversion confer when it comes to business?

The big disadvantage is that the CEO job requires a lot of people time, and that wears me out.  I have to be careful to make sure I don’t schedule too many analyst or journalist briefings, speaking events, networking events, or large internal meetings in the same day.  Otherwise I am exhausted.  

The advantage is that I like to spend a lot of time digging into data about the business, and I am more sensitive than most people to changes in that data.  Introverts are good at building mental models of how things work, and so we are very tuned in to changes to those models or data that doesn't seem to fit.

What are the most important characteristics of an entrepreneur?
Mental and physical stamina. It takes years of grueling work to become an “overnight success”.  You have to be tough.

What’s your definition of success?
Achieving your goals, whatever they may be.