In late September 2022, Endeavor Atlanta hosted an intimate breakfast at the OneTrust headquarters with founder and CEO, Kabir Barday. In attendance were a curated group of local high-growth entrepreneurs eager to learn from the man who grew OneTrust into a multi-billion dollar company in only a few short years.
Kabir’s resume is staggeringly impressive. In 2019, he received the National EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2020, with a 48,337% three-year growth rate, OneTrust was named the #1 fastest growing company in America on the Inc. 5000 (source). According to many in the technology industry, it was the fastest growing SaaS business in history.
Kabir Barday’s parents landed in Atlanta in 1983 after immigrating from India. His dad was a software developer who enrolled Kabir in community-college computer classes at age 10. After his dad quit his software job to become an entrepreneur, operating gas stations and restaurants, he inspired Kabir to dip his toes in the entrepreneurial world. He launched a small website development company. They also encouraged Kabir to push himself to excel in the Boy Scouts, which he did by reaching the top rank of Eagle Scout.
Reaching that $100m ARR milestone is a target for most SaaS start-ups. Kabir and OneTrust did it in a staggering three and a half years. At the breakfast, Kabir shared his thoughts on the experience and what’s next for him and OneTrust.
“The first chapter for us was super unusual because we found product market fit so fast and we realized we were on to something huge pretty much the month we launched our product in 2016” due to the GDPR privacy law that had just passed and the subsequent two-year implementation period to comply with that law. “I realized we had two years to build a company and win a global market”…”that is really what defined that first phase”.
Kabir covered the break-neck speed at which OneTrust grew, following the motto of “Go all in”. He reflected on the decisions during that hypergrowth period that needed to be adjusted in the next phase. The management team and go-to-market strategy that helps you grow from $1M to $100M ARR may not be the same as the ones that help you grow to $1B. Kabir reflected on that phase of change after hypergrowth; “We were rebuilding every aspect of this company from the ground up starting in 2020. Hiring a fundamentally completely new executive team, even your own operational cadence, your leadership style has to change, even the type of people you recruit has to change.”
“As I reflect back, there are a lot of questions about mistakes”….”almost all mistakes are undoable when you go through transition except for a few things that you can’t undo”…”those are the real painful things and the things I had never gotten advice on before”.
From Product to Platform
“I wanted to find a deeper purpose and mission. The really fun part about this transformation for us is that, especially after the pandemic and all the issues that society has faced, it has allowed us to anchor a purpose very much on our belief that doing good for society is doing good for business”…”how do we help companies thrive and unlock that value by helping them do good for people and the planet?”
“Trust is going to be the defining issue of the next generation”, Kabir predicted. With new technology like AI, personalization, and machine learning being the focus for the last decade, Kabir and team are now seeing issues around privacy, security, ethics, bias, and the environment take center stage for organizations. “As companies now think about what the next decade looks like, as we talk to leaders all over the world, they use the word trust. And it’s becoming a transformation that touches every aspect of the business. And trust is becoming, and has become, the currency in which companies operate.” OneTrust is creating an enterprise architecture for trust intelligence and taking a platform approach for organizations. “We’re a trust intelligence platform. It’s a new category that we’re really evangelizing and pioneering in the market.”
Vulnerably, Kabir shared that “I forgot to enjoy the journey and it’s a huge mistake I’m still trying to undo”. He said he neglected his health, personal life and relationships during the hypergrowth phase, which is one of his big regrets.
Nobody told him to slow down and take care of himself – “your board, your family, your employees all get caught up in the overwhelming success”. He woke up in a hospital bed one day and realized that all the success in the world is meaningless without enjoying it. “I feel I sacrificed way too much…to just grow a little bit slower, to just not care about that one $10,000 deal that didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things…I compromised on things that did matter.”
Becoming active in the Atlanta entrepreneurial community was one of the steps to begin enjoying the hard earned success and step outside of the loneliness of being a founder. “I wasn’t involved in the startup ecosystem in Atlanta, I was just running the business.” Gesturing to the other entrepreneurs gathered in the room, he said “ This is the fun part of running a company.”
With a humble and inspiring leader like Kabir in the helm, we anticipate even more success in the next phase for OneTrust. The company and its many entrepreneurial employees are poised to have an outsized impact on our ecosystem for years to come and Endeavor is honored to be part of the journey.