So I decided to keep the consulting company in business and I laid out the immediate plan moving forward with our team. But again, we still didn’t have a stitch of code written nor did we have a company name. If you missed any of this, check out part three of the Shugo story to get up to speed.
First thing on my agenda was a company name and I had tasked a friend who was an expert marketer to help. Luckily, we had a great relationship so he helped for free and he was about to send me a first round of his thoughts.
Would the first time be a charm?
Rarely is the first time a charm, especially when it comes to something creative and when you have too many people in the decision process. For our company name, I kept the group small: just myself and my marketing expert. I still remember the anticipation I had when I saw his “first stab” email. The only question was if his thoughts would be on point or be a dud.
Remember, my marketing expert was one of the original three partners we were going to have in this venture or so we thought. This meant he had intricate knowledge of what we were trying to accomplish and probably had already been thinking of our branding long before I asked for his help.
He not only shared with me a company name but also a logo he had designed. First the name: Shugo – a Japanese term he derived from the term Shogun. In the past, shoguns played a key role leading and securing different regions of Japan. He felt this connotation fit perfectly into what we were trying to do: leading and securing small businesses on the latest in industry best practices. The funny part is that he went into Japanese history even though he was Indian!
Typically I like to take a little bit of time with big decisions but for this name I thought he hit a homerun. It felt perfect. It was short and unique like Google and Yahoo. It was something people wouldn’t forget. You could use Shugo as a noun or verb (you should “Shugo” that file). Shugo.com wasn’t available, but myShugo.com was.
Pretty rare feat on a creative project for the first round to produce an extraordinary result without any feedback or change, but he did it. I have to say to this day I still love our name, what it stands for and the response we receive when people hear it. I’m sure there are some people who don’t like our name, but they haven’t shared it with me yet.
We have a name, but now we need a logo
Second part of his email was an attempt at a logo. I say attempt loosely. He’s an expert when it comes to digital and graphic design, but I’m VERY picky when it comes to how things look and feel. I’ve had no formal training but I know what I like and I’m pretty stubborn to have every detail the way I think it should be.
You may think he was a little presumptive creating a logo since he just presented me with a name. What If I didn’t like the name then the work on the logo wouldn’t matter? I think deep down he knew I’d love the name Shugo so he went ahead and created a logo complete with a tag line. Here it is.
My initial gut was “eh”. It didn’t blow me away nor was I completely turned off. I loved the font used on the word Shugo and I even liked the tag line “Guarding your business information” (you’ll find out soon that we’re actually looking to change this since we do much more than that). The colors were OK even though they reminded me of the New Jersey Devils which is a pretty big pill to swallow if you’re a die-hard Philadelphia Flyers fan. But red and black did match the Japanese culture which made sense because of the name Shugo.
I think the one part I wasn’t sold on was the shield with the funky “S” inside. Let’s break that down:
- Shield: denotes security which makes sense since FileGuardian was going to help businesses securely exchange data
- “S” inside the shield: the circles are points with lines connecting each point. This was meant to display securely moving data from point to point which is why it lived inside of the shield
After hearing the explanation, I understood it a bit more but I still wasn’t in love with it. It was once again, another thing I wanted to stew on for a few days but heck, we made progress. We finally have a name and part of a logo. At the very least, I can now replace all the [businessname] placeholders inside of the business plan.
Let’s start coding…
Finally, we could concentrate on what we did best and start development on FileGuardian. It’s obviously the area I felt most comfortable in since I spent my entire career building software. It was October of 2008 and much had changed:
- The buyout of my consulting partner was complete
- The architecture and original design of FileGuardian was finalized
- We’d scaled back consulting for one of our employees to concentrate on FileGuardian development
I look back at this time and think about one of the best decisions we ever made when it came to FileGuardian. We knew as usage of the application grew (well we hoped it would grow) there would be a large number of files we’d be storing securely on behalf of our clients. Trying to manage all those files ourselves on our own servers and have proper backups and disaster recovery plans would be a nightmare. Heck it would probably be more work and cost than supporting our users.
As a result, we chose to use some well-known third parties for file storage. They had first class facilities with backup and disaster recovery plans in place. Their security was top-notch. Why re-invent the wheel when we didn’t have to? Honestly, we couldn’t do it better than they could. They have dedicated teams and we had three people.
To add a layer of security though, we’d encrypt each file stored with these content providers. Each file would receive its own unique encryption key though. This meant that it would be encrypted differently than the next and we’d store the keys in a separate location than where the files were stored.
To this day, it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made along the way. We’ve gotten many decisions wrong, but this was a grand slam. I’d say it probably was the best decision throughout our history, but there was one other one that proved to be even more valuable. I’ll share that soon enough but for now we were on our way. Coding had begun. We had a small group of early adopters already identified. We were marching toward a beta toward the end of 2008. I finally had a smile on my face confident in the decisions I made but scared to death on how it would all work out and how I’d continue to support my family.