CEO Spotlight: Q&A With Tod Earhart of Burlywood
Tod Earhart serves as Chief Executive Officer, President, and Manager at Burlywood Tech. They have proven ability to deliver innovative, customer-focused enterprise storage products to market; And a unique background in storage controller technology with HP, WD, AT&T, Micron, & InPhase. Burlywood’s history and IP stem from storage controller technology that was built to manage high defect and high error rate media. With decades of storage controller expertise, the Burlywood team has built an architecture that allows for rapid integration of customer specified requirements across interfaces, protocols, FTL, QoS, capacity, flash types, and form-factor.
How did you become involved with your company?
Working in SSD (Solid State Drive) storage development, I wanted to get data about how customers used products in order to improve our designs. I was surprised to find out that data didn’t exist.
After leaving, I started to investigate, and it turned out that customers were very unhappy with how SSDs worked as well as their cost and quality. There was clearly a huge market opportunity.
Please describe what your company does today?
For companies who purchase large quantities of SSDs, we analyze their applications and deliver a tuned SSD using our proprietary Software Defined SSD technology. The tuned product has better performance, life, and overall value than the commodity one-size-fits-all SSDs that they are currently buying today.
What aspect of your team or company culture are you most proud of?
I am very proud of the respectful, team oriented culture we’ve created. Everyone helps out where they are most needed, no one is above any task, and there is no blaming – just problem solving. It is much more fun and productive than the larger corporations most of us have worked at in the past.
What is the most important thing you're working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
We are going through our first customer trials and qualifications that will lead to revenue.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as a CEO?
Since we are still pre-revenue (barely), cash is king. The best advice for early stage is that you should always raise as much cash as you can get. It always takes more than you anticipate.
What has been the most meaningful aspect of your engagement with the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network?
Most of my career has been in deep technology development roles, primarily storage related. When I decided to start my new company, I had no contacts to guide me on how to begin, raising funding, sales, and outbound marketing – areas where I had little experience. In the past 4 years, I have worked hard at creating and expanding my network to find people to fill in my considerable gaps.
The Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network group gives me instant access to a very wide range of skill sets, experience, and advice. BEN has quickly accelerated my network and given me almost instant access to people who can bring many different skills and experiences to the table. I strongly believe that a diverse set of views will produce the best decisions and outcomes.