There’s a common misconception about banks, Dalibor Siroky says: that they’re old school. Despite what the startup world might think about big financial institutions, he adds, in reality they’re “highly complex software companies that employ a lot of technology.”
Siroky should know. In 2012 the Australian entrepreneur, a former IBM consultant and soldier, left over a decade in the financial sector to co-found Plutora, a software firm that helps organizations increase speed and efficiency across ever more complex tech systems.
The idea for Plutora came from both men’s experiences in banking. “We were tasked to either large-scale program delivery or mergers or de-mergers,” says Siroky. “And as part of that you get to really unwind the spaghetti that is underneath the core facade that is a financial institution.”
Bootstrapped by Siroky and co-founder Sean Hamawi, Plutora now has over 60 employees on three continents serving 40 corporations – including several Fortune 500 firms. In 2016 Sydney-based Macquarie Capital invested $13.4 million into the Mountain View, Ca-headquartered team. Since then Dalibor and Hamawi have been busy hiring and scaling towards a global market presence.
DevOps has often been labeled something of a dark art in the tech world. Arguments can range from the perfunctory to the philosophical. Even when it comes to product DevOps, Siroky says, knowledge is “pretty fragmented and there’s a lack of consistent understanding.”
The multitude of workflows and applications driving such huge brands makes management incredibly difficult. Millions of dollars are not difficult to lose. That’s when Plutora comes in. It helps firms plan, manage and track releases with transparency, efficiency and precision.
In 2012 Siroky and Hamawi knew they were hitting a huge pain point. They had a business. So they put a date in the calendar, left their jobs and began building a platform. “Five years later here we are,” Siroky says.
Bootstrapping a high-tech company, rather than touring Silicon Valley and other locations for funding leaves founders with a mountain of challenges, Siroky says – not least having to do everything from finance and HR to marketing personally.
But, he adds, “It gives you incredible focus, because if you don’t get it right you don’t survive the next minute. You’re extremely focused on execution. The second part is that it gives you is that you’ve got to get the product-market fit right, because there’s no safety buffer…you’re always trying to find that shortest path to revenue.”
A third aspect, says Siroky, is that it gives founders “total control. You don’t have to answer to anybody else in terms of worrying there might be strategic directions that need to change. It’s just very, very clean and clear around the mission.”
That mission is being communicated to a sharply growing customer base. Little surprise when firms from eBay to AMP have been thrilled with the time and risk-slashing releases Plutora allows them to make. “I see Plutora as the glue that holds the delivery process together,” says one United Energy employee.
“To be competitive in the modern day economy you need to double down on your technology, and in order to do that you need a platform like Plutora that drives that more efficiently,” says Siroky. “So essentially we help organizations become technology juggernauts. No-one else in our space is doing that.”
Following Macquarie’s investment Plutora has grown over 100%. The majority of its clients are based in North America, with 20-25% based in Europe and the rest in Asia-Pacific. It allows the company’s founders to hire better and more quickly.
That makes team coordination an increasingly critical skill, says Siroky – and he is still keen to keep a close eye on all aspects of the business. But he claims that giving employees “freedom” to do their best is key. Ultimately Plutora’s biggest asset is its staff, he adds: “The people part is not deterministic.”
This month the company released an upgrade of its Plutora Environments solution, which helps streamline test environment management that, according to a company survey, 40% of companies struggle with. Siroky has marked out pharmaceuticals, healthcare, telecommunications and his former sector banking, as the industries which most need his company’s help.
“Our early days were spent proving the technology,” he says. “Then distribution and getting referencability. Now it is about scaling the distribution and awareness of the product.
“Every day is solving a different piece of the puzzle.”