Q & A with MN Tech Entrepreneur Tom Grabowski on the RapidEngines acquisition



Thomas GrabowskiLocal angel + VC-backed startup RapidEngines was acquired by network management and monitoring firm SevOne last week.  Based in Wilmington, DE, SevOne is now funded by Bain Capital in pursuit of a public offering.

We connected with Co founder and CEO Tom Grabowski to hear more about the deal and its future implications.

What is the gist of RapidEngines?

Jason DeStefano, Joe DeStefano, Pete Jordan, and I started RapidEngines because we knew there must be a better way to analyze streaming machine data. Companies we worked with were getting overwhelmed with data from their applications and IT infrastructure and needed to know what was normal and be able to investigate abnormal events.

Log analysis products were search­ based and users had to spend a lot of time searching through the data to find what they were looking for. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack. We wanted to remove the hay, and just leave the needles.

In 2010 we started developing software around collecting unstructured data and baselining it to identify what changed from the historical trends. Our software identifies what is new or what’s unique compared to what was received in the past. We still use search to further investigate the data, but we save a lot of time by first answering the question ‘What is different today?’

Baselining data and analyzing new data as it is collected allows our customers to become more intelligent about their data and helps them find the ‘unknowns’ rather than spend time searching the ‘knowns’. Businesses collect a lot of data from their infrastructure and applications and by finding the unusual behavior they can make better decisions on how to better optimize their resources.

When SevOne and how did the relationship form?

We were working with a customer who really loved SevOne’s products and recommended that we try to partner with them. The customer realized that SevOne and RapidEngines had similar visions, but were working with different types of data. SevOne’s Performance Analytics Solution is incredibly advanced in visualizing performance data and effectively baselining and alerting on it, which is exactly what we wanted to do with unstructured, time series data (or logs).

As we discussed integrating the products, we all agreed that integrating the companies would provide even more exciting opportunities.

What were the terms of the transaction?

We can’t disclose the financial terms.

What does it mean for the future for you, the product, team, company?

All the RapidEngines employees have transitioned to positions at SevOne. More product details will be announced from SevOne in the near future.

We are all incredibly excited and fortunate to be working with SevOne. They have a brilliant team and their customers are some of the biggest financial organizations, service providers, and tech companies in the world.

How much did you raise? Any investors outside El Dorado / Vesbridge?

We can’t disclose the financial details. We had several friends and family invest along with El Dorado and Vesbridge.

Tom Von Kuster and Ken Cutler were a couple of the local angel investors. We really appreciated their advice and unwavering support.

This is your second startup. For those who might not be familiar, what was the story of the first?

It is the same founding team that started LogLogic. My basement was the first HQ for both companies. Short story… We started LogLogic in 2002, got Series A funding from Sequoia capital, moved the company out to Sunnyvale, CA in 2004, eventually raised $58.5M in four funding rounds, founders left the company in 2009, LogLogic was eventually purchased by Tibco software for over $130M.

What are some lessons learned from your startup/acquisition experiences?

Three of the most important lessons I learned:

1. Start with a good, strong, core team that has similar values and understands their unique roles

2. Skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been. We’ve always been trying to build a product that the market will need 3 years from now.

3. In software development everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much to complete as you think it will.

What do you attribute your repeat success to?

We have a great team and we enjoy working together and innovating. We do not measure success by this acquisition or what we did at LogLogic. We prefer to measure it by the value our products have for our customers.

Anything else you would like to add?

We are super excited to be part of SevOne. It’s a great opportunity to work with some very smart people, at a great company that customers love, and to work on what we believe is a big and growing opportunity in data analytics.

Even though I’ll be working for an East coast­based company now, I hope to continue to stay connected to the Twin Cities tech startup community and provide any assistance or help I can for local startups.


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