Ben Afiri is the co-founder and CEO of Commodore Corporation. He found himself in the spotlight after his company experienced massive growth. He sat down with Jessica Abu to share his advice to anyone in the same boat.
Jessica Abu: Can you start by telling us what Kubernetes are?
Ben Afiri: Kubernetes is a container orchestration platform. You can think of it as an operating system that allows companies to build very complex services on the cloud, using a standardized method that was developed by Google a few years ago, and released as an open source project to the community. Now, it is one of the most popular cloud-native enterprise infrastructures. Kubernetes has become a very popular and standard way for organizations to run, build, and deploy small services to the cloud.
What does Commodore do?
Kubernetes itself is an inherently very complex system. This means that you get a great deal of energy out of the box; You can scale your system as if you were on Netflix or Google, even if you were a team of 10 people. But it also has significant downsides. One of the downsides is that when something breaks, when something breaks, when you have an alert, when you have an accident, it usually takes a lot of experience and expertise, working and running these very complex issues. Basically you need to be an expert, to do this efficiently.
What Commodore does is basically provide the necessary monitoring capability and tools. When your company encounters a problem, has an alert, or an event occurs, they can instantly find the root cause, and even address the problem with two clicks, rather than the sometimes hours of investigation involving multiple people. So, you can think of it as an added layer on top of Kubernetes. It basically makes sure that it’s reliable and reliable all the time. And if there is a problem, you have a place to find out and fix the problem.
How did you come up with the name Commodore?
All terms related to Kubernetes are taken from Sea World. So, Kubernetes, in Latin, is basically a person who sails a ship. Helm and all other terms from Kubernetes are also related to the marine world. The Commodore is basically our attempt at becoming the captain of the ship, who can essentially navigate the ship of complexity and trouble to safety.
And what do you want to say to the other captains, admirals, and founders out there about how to deal with explosive growth?
The advice I can give is to try to surround yourself with people who are better than you at some things. It may be that they are doing better operations. It may be that they are smarter. It may be that they are more creative. But don’t try to be the smartest person in the room. My motto at least is to try to be in a room with a lot of smart people and try to get some of them to work for you, and some of them to work for you. So that’s at least one thing I can say.
The second thing is that once you have a talented team working for you, set goals, define principles, provide tools, but let them lead. If you really want to grow big, you can not do everything yourself. So, you have to let your team lead. You need to let your management team lead, and take risks as well. It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. The founders are constantly trying to push the team up to 120%, working 14 hours a day and working on weekends. But we have to remember that the journey is very long. We need a team, and we need our investors and customers with us for many years to come. And we need to make sure we’re working appropriately.
What would you like to say to other entrepreneurs who are suddenly in the spotlight?
You must be humble. It’s not just about you. I know it’s very easy to see all the PR, see your picture all over the place, and read all the fun blogs about the company and about yourself. But the truth is, CEO is not everything. The real thing is the employees, customers, investors and family members who sacrifice so much for the success of the company. And you need to make sure you give these people proper credit. And you also need to make sure that these people feel they have a real impact on this journey. You should always be in learning mode. The fact that you are making a lot of money and the fact that you have managed to get some paying clients does not mean that you need to stop learning. In fact, it just means that you have a lot of new things to learn.
Try to remember why you did this in the first place. There are plenty of reasons why the co-founders decide to live their very sweet lives, and decide to give up everything else and do this crazy thing of starting a company. It may be in order to make sure that the family will have a better life, and to secure their financial future. It could be that you want to do something that affects real people, or to change the way they do things. All of these reasons are legitimate, but try not to forget why you did it in the first place.
I just had a baby two months ago, and I became a father for the first time. And before I leave my apartment for the office, I just look at my child’s smile and automatically remember why I did this thing, and what things are really important in life. And I think it’s very important to have these things, give you some proportion, and then go to work and do the best you can at work.