Trust In Yourself, Your Product And Your Partners, says Internet Expert Nurani Nimpuno
This blog is based on an episode of our podcast, The PathCast. The PathCast is an interview series with tech and business experts, discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of business and provides actionable steps for you to implement from the ground up. You can listen to this episode here.
Nurani Nimpuno never saw herself as an entrepreneur. “Whenever I had a good idea, I’d pass it on to someone else,” she said, during an interview for The PathCast.
After a decade and a half in the industry, Nimpuno is a key player in the telecoms space and is ‘deeply involved with internet policy and internet governance issues globally’.
She is also currently serving on ICANN's ASO Advisory Council (AC) an elected representative for Europe, West Asia, and the former USSR.
ICANN is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit responsible for the maintenance of the internet that is dedicated to keeping the network secure, stable and interoperable.
With such depth of knowledge and breadth of experience, it’s no surprise that when propositioned with a new venture by a close contact within the industry, Nimpuno did, in fact, decide to try on the entrepreneur hat.
Asteroid – sometimes online as Asteroid International or Asteroid HQ – is a local interconnection solution. Nimpuno describes the new venture as a ‘fully automated IX platform’, not just one IXP but a platform that can be deployed anywhere in the world.
And while, with the title of Chief Commercial Officer, Nimpuno may not seem like she’s shaking up the industry on behalf of an innovative startup, the idea behind Asteroid for a fully automated, fully managed and fully supported internet exchange point (IXP) is not commonplace.
For those not familiar with telecoms, an IXP is part of the physical infrastructure – the backbone, really – of the internet. They are points where data is exchanged between internet service providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks (CDNs).
“Trusting your instinct is key in anything you do as a business leader. For me, knowing and trusting the people I was going into business with was fundamental. While I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur, I really believed in the product from the start and I could see that there was nothing else on the market like this.”
Believe in your product and your team
Asteroid was co-founded by Nimpuno, Remco van Mook and Andy Davidson, all of whom have extensive knowledge within the industry.
“We’re all nerds in a nerdy industry,” Nimpuno said. “We’d never worked together but you do really get to know people in peering and telecoms because you see the same faces over and over.”
It all started when van Mook ‘got a look in his eye’ after speaking with Nimpuno at a conference.
“We were talking about how we thought IXPs really should be a lot more efficient than they are, or were, and saw that cost-effectiveness was something that not many IXPs were good with, and that they had stagnated when it came to innovation and technology.
“It’s a scary thing, to start something up, and to pour your heart into it. But it was also very exciting to build something from scratch and channel everything into it: the solutions you’d worked on, all of the bad things about the place you worked before, or products you’d been developing.”
The team was the biggest game-changer for Nimpuno. “I’ve known both Andy and Remco for years but seeing that we were a good team made a huge difference for me,” she said.
“Even in the very early stages when we were brainstorming, I could see that we had similar thinking even if we had very different competencies. That was a game-changer for me.”
“We came into Asteroid with different experiences and perspectives but we all drew the same conclusion. We wanted to show something that was agile and responsive.”
Relationships are crucial at every stage of business
While ‘you have to find good people to work with’, you must also find good people to do business with. And don’t forget, that’s also what others are thinking about you.
“Driving change is exhausting and exhilarating. You’re constantly surprised at how well it’s going and how well it’s not going,” Nimpuno said.
She explained how the Asteroid team attended the ‘big industry meetings’ and got facetime with large and important players.
“If you were a nobody coming into this industry, there’s no way you’d have gotten that in your very first event,” she said, suggesting the team’s reputation within the industry gave them a head start.
But it’s not all favor for favor – when you’re pushing a new product, your buyers want to know who you are and that they can trust you, especially long term. And meetings don’t mean partnerships.
People have to trust you for your business to take off
“People might be very receptive to your idea and that's different from actually doing business with them. You need to sell them on the partnership, on you, and your model and they can trust you and it long term. That doesn’t happen overnight.” And that’s why it’s so hard for new faces in the telecoms space.
Nimpuno continues: “People might like your idea but if you want sustainability, people need to believe in not just your company but you.
“For me, it’s about being transparent, consistent and clear about your vision, and standing up for that is. It doesn't mean everyone will agree with you, but if you stand up for it, convincingly, you’ll get people on board and they’ll trust you.”
How do you fare up? While Nimpuno talks specifically about people, and trust in one another, you must also ensure your branding reflects this. Or, really, what is the point? Especially in the B2B space. Listen to our latest episode of ThePathCast for more of Nimpuno’s insights.
PS. Want to stay in the loop?
If you’d like to stay up to date with Nimpuno and Asteroid, catch them on all of the regular social channels.