CEO of env0 – Ohad Maislish

env0 is an Israel-based startup that provides an automated, collaborative remote-run workflows management for cloud deployments on Terraform, Terragrunt and custom flows. env0 enables users and teams to jointly govern cloud deployments with self-service capabilities.

For the interview, we had Ohad Maislish, the CEO and co-founder of env0. He has an MSc and a B.A. in Computer Science. The CMO of env0 – Yifat Mor also joined the conversation to give insights on the marketing strategy of the startup. They spoke to Komal Pattanayak of VCBay.

Komal: Please tell us something about yourself and your company env0.

Ohad: I am Ohad Maislish, I’m a 39 years old father of two, and my background is technical. This is my second startup. I started my career at a young age. At the age of 14, basically, I started going to university.

In parallel to high school, I joined the university and had a bachelor’s degree when I graduated from high school. I did both at the same time. Then I went to work at Microsoft at the age of 17, and I was actually the youngest ever developer at Microsoft Israel. And as far as I know, I still hold that record of the youngest ever developer at Microsoft Israel. Since then, I worked in technical roles becoming the manager. And then in the last six years, I started three companies and env0 is my third company. So, I’m not such a good developer now. There are many adults that do a much better job than me on that. And I focus on building companies and innovating.

env0 is all about the infrastructure as code. We’re strong believers that the cloud is going through a major revolution, we call it the third revolution. I think the first revolution was the move from physical machines to virtual machines led by VMware 20 years ago. The second example is for the public cloud revolution that you no longer have your own servers. But instead, you pay for some vendor like AWS, GCP, Azure.

So everything is moving to code. The biggest framework is Terraform, but there are other sources as well. That’s a huge evolution that makes developers influence infrastructural decisions. It’s no longer bare metal, but what they write in code totally affects the infrastructure of their applications. And so that’s the third revolution and env0 is all about infrastructure as code automation.

Komal: Your company name – env0 is pretty unique, what’s the idea behind it?

Ohad: It’s a combination of two things. Env meaning environment or specifically cloud environments and zero, we just actually took that idea from another great company named  auth0 that was acquired by Okta a few months ago.

We believe that for everything that has to do with cloud environments, in the new era of infrastructural code, people should look at env0.

Komal: Congratulations to you for raising your Series A funding. How do you feel about this milestone?

Ohad: I think it’s a combination of a few great things –

First is the acknowledgement by investors that there is a huge market and that our traction starts showing that we’re doing exactly the right thing. The second thing is that we now are going to work even closer with Microsoft. The fact that the lead investor is Microsoft, I think is an asset for us. We have been working with Microsoft for a year now and they joined the last round, the seed extension round, and now they decided to lead the Series A. They are going to work with us even closer and can generate a lot of great opportunities for us within Microsoft and its ecosystem.

And the third is obviously that we now have US$ 17 million, so we can do other things with them, things we knew we needed to do, but we just waited for the right time to do that.

Komal: How do you plan to utilize this funding?

Ohad: We are not alone in this space. And I think it’s super important to mention Hashicorp, our main competition. And we want to dominate that category. We feel that there is a new category that is emerging in infrastructure as code automation. And I think the two most noticeable players out there are Hashicorp players from the cloud, and soon env0. env0 has proven for now that we have what seems to be the best product and there are a lot of great features that we would plan to build in order to stay the best product in that category.

But maybe even more important is the need to build our brand awareness. The most important thing in our funding is the go-to-market, the lead generation, the brand awareness, the brand could ability. These are important because we strongly believe that we have the best product and we now need to show that to basically every relevant person.

Komal: Ms Mor, please tell us about your marketing strategy and is there something out of the box that your marketing team does that others don’t?

Yifat: From a marketing perspective, I think that building strong momentum with the DevOps community is something that we’re definitely going to put more emphasis on. As thought leaders, we will establish our go-to-market with a combination of both educating, on the importance of transitioning from manual processes to automating infrastructure as code, leveraging code instead of manually pushing buttons.

We plan to do more around the education process. The communication or the connection with the dev DevOps and SRE and tech leads communities is super strategic for env0. And we plan to invest more in that. We can leverage events and meetups when they go back and we can meet face to face, but definitely leveraging the digital space in all these communities, too.

Talking about traditional marketing efforts, every startup or every brand is doing that. But I think that what makes env0 unique is the combination of great technology and the fact that developers and DevOps really love the platform. The feedback is really positive, so we definitely need to leverage the good feedback that we get and amplify these customer success stories.

The plan is through the community, community first. And then all the other traditional marketing activities.

Komal: Most of the developers use Github. So what value-added services do you guys provide so that they consider moving to env0?  

Ohad: Regarding developers and Github, the vast majority of our customers are from Github and then env0. It’s not something that in any chance can replace Github, but also our customers use three things. They use a source control management product, like Github Gitclub or Bitbucket or Azure. They use a cloud vendor like AWS, GCP and Azure. And they use an infrastructure framework, like terraform. We connect those three entities together. If you have a central management product, like Github for a company and you probably use the cloud like AWS and nowadays you probably started using Terraform, if you want to manage all of those in one centralized place to get governance management capabilities, automation, workflows notifications, that’s where env0 comes in.

Komal: What is your target market like? Is env0 for corporate developers or for individual developers as well?

Ohad: It’s not for individual developers. It is for automation and collaboration. When you have just one developer using an infrastructures code framework, like terraform they can just use the open-source terraform. The individual contributor does not need a solution like env0 or the Hashicorp terraform cloud. Hashicorp Terraform cloud and env0 were built for the business solution for the organizations. So that’s our only focus.

Komal: You founded env0 in 2018. So, what has the growth trajectory been like since the inception of env0 till Series A?

Ohad: It was on December 31st or something like that. We basically started in early 2019. And I think in the first year we were really focused on ideation and building the MVP, and then we raised our seed round and got our first customers.

It was super interesting to see how everybody is moving to infrastructure as code, like terraform, specifically zooming in on that. We saw a lot of movement from other infrastructure as code frameworks to terraform. We are also starting to see more frameworks named Pulumi and env0 is a multi-framework infrastructure code automation solution. We are not just for terraform. We are a multi framework.

Komal: What is your competitive landscape like?

Ohad: The main competition is HashiCorp Terraform cloud, which focuses only on automation. They’re on top of Terraform. Our customers use Terraform, Terragrunt and other infrastructures called frameworks. We’ve built them in the management solution on top of that. If you have Terraform code and you’re not just an individual contributor, you want to collaborate, you want your colleagues to approve your changes, you want to have some guard rails before you deploy to the cloud and check your code, that’s when you need env0.

Komal: What was the most difficult question that you had to confront from investors during your funding rounds, be it the seed funding round or the Series A?

Ohad: I think investors clearly saw that there’s a huge market and that we have a strong product and a strong team, and that we basically fulfill anything that we say that we’re going to do. They basically ask how are you going to succeed? Are you going to win in a domain where there is already one great company operating in that space? And I’m happy to say that when we show proof of customers choosing env0 time and time again, I think that’s the best answer to show how you’re going to be a domain player in that category because you’re building the best product and eventually developers want to use products that they like. So those are our answers to how we are going to succeed just by building the best product.

Komal: You have founded two startups before env0. Do you see yourself sticking around and making Env0 grow or would you consider a lucrative exit in future?

Ohad: I think we just started and there’s plenty more we want to achieve. So that’s our focus, to grow.

Yifat: It’s very exciting for us, there are great expectations that come with such a nice Series A round. We have a great product, but most importantly, I think we have a great team. We have a super awesome team of developers, marketeers, sales operations, and we will surely grow and hopefully can take this momentum forward and launch new features and make this product even bigger than what it is today.

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