Podcast: OKTA Founder, Todd McKinnon on ‘Breakout Success’

Podcast: OKTA Founder, Todd McKinnon on 'Breakout Success'

Todd McKinnon saw a pattern where tech startups usually ended up being successful years after their conception during an economic recession. On this Starting Greatness podcast, he talks about his journey with OKTA and how luck plays an important part in being successful.

Todd was working in PeopleSoft and decided to do what her wife calls absurd and crazy. He quit and started his own startup for cloud services. He talks about how family is the first people to discourage you from your idea, and shares his story on how he finally convinced his wife.

After this first hurdle, he invested time and energy into finding out what customers needed in a cloud service app. He shares his methods of working backward and how this directly addresses people’s pain points. A lot of IT-based businesses learned the same technique and it turns out working backward may be the best solution to address customer needs.

Todd McKinnon wasn’t fairly optimistic about his startup idea and once it was implemented, he always started small. He talks about why this is easier but then goes on to say that they have to see the possibility that this product could be in a bigger picture. Listeners will be surprised that Todd was aiming for competition with the likes of Microsoft and for good reason. This is the only way to cast a wider net to get to a niche. 

As for company culture, Todd shares how he opts for investing in a small number of people. He focuses on what he currently has instead of focusing on the problem of hiring more, which he says something along the lines of not being worth it.

He also uses the same logic to his customers. Being able to focus on what customers already have and connecting the product to these existing needs ensures that the product becomes significant by the mere interconnectedness it has with other products. 

Todd also shares how he fosters a culture of transparency in the company. He also discusses why it’s useful to share the business-owner mindset to everyone in the company to push them into acting on the need for customers’ pain points to be addressed.


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