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The Power of Passion to Develop Technology with Idit Levine, Founder and CEO, Solo.io

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Certain types of technology are easier to understand for some people than for others, and that’s okay. Passion is contagious; It attracts employees and customers. Strong, passionate leadership with clear vision increases employee satisfaction that then translates to satisfied customers. Developers who make products that build and maintain infrastructure toil to solve problems so their customers can pursue their own desires. Idit Levine, the Founder and CEO of Solo.io, shares her zeal for her company’s work as well as a belief in her team’s competitive nature.

Main Takeaways

  • The Power of Passion: Passion is often underrated. It is the engine of creativity and accomplishment. Lean into passion in order to educate others, gather phenomenal employees, and attract customers.
  • Creation from Competition: Competition can be something that people shy away from. Perhaps this is because they wrongly equate it to being domineering. True competition is about striving to be the best version of oneself and creating an environment for one’s entire team to do the same. Embrace competition to win.
  • Knowing the Why of Founding: Founding a company is a huge endeavor. Knowing the reason to be a founder is essential. For Idit Levine, founding was about building on the successful things she had learned from previous stops but also learning from experiences she found wanting and believing she could do even better.
  • Supporting the Team: A CEO should be obsessed with their employees. Leaders must make sure their employees are content and empowered to be their best. Happy employees lead to satisfied customers.
  • Listening to the Market but Pushing Too: Listen to the market, but don’t just listen to the market. Customers don’t always know what they need or the direction of where a technology must head. It’s the job of a CEO to lead and determine the company’s course and the products they must build.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.

Article:

Certain types of technology are easier to understand for some people than for others, and that’s okay. Passion is contagious; it attracts employees and customers. Strong, passionate leadership with clear vision increases employee satisfaction that then translates to satisfied customers. Developers who make products that build and maintain infrastructure toil to solve problems so their customers can pursue their own desires. Idit Levine, the Founder and CEO of Solo.io, shared her zeal for her company’s work as well as a belief in her team’s competitive nature.

“Honestly, to say that Solo.io is a service mesh company is like saying that Amazon is selling books online,” Levine said. “That’s where we’re starting. What we have right now is an amazing team that can do everything and whatever’s interesting in this market, we will go in and attack because we just want to be the best. So I don’t know if this [a] good description, but if you want to know, what are we doing at Solo.io, we’re having a blast with technology.” 

Passion helps to teach people about technology. If a person really cares about something, they are more likely to invest their time and energy to understand it and, eventually, to excel at it. That passion can become contagious and draw in others: first, to listen and then, hopefully, to learn. Levine embodied that excitement as she discussed her team’s creation of an API Gateway, a mesh network service, and her future plans. 

On a recent episode of IT Visionaries, Levine also explained how a constructive, competitive mentality compelled her to found Solo.io. She revealed that she’s always been a person led by passion, from playing basketball to competing in the c-suite to founding her own company. Levine chatted about how her will to compete inspired her to put together a great team and is now guiding her as she supports them to be their best. She also shared the game plan for her company, and how her strategy is leading to wins. First, however, Levine detailed what Solo.io is currently focused on.

“It is application networking, from edge to mesh.” Levine said. “It’s basically trying to solve those problems of observability, security, as well as routing, and connectivity between everything that goes inside your data centers and anything that goes on inside your cluster, per se. That’s in a nutshell what we’re doing, but, of course, it’s a very complex thing. If people are aware of the terms, what we focus on is API gateway as well as service mesh”  

Levine further explained the recent work at Solo.io.

“One of the things that our product is doing [is that] it’s helping you with this service mesh as well as what’s called the management plan to configure and basically orchestrate [the] service mesh,” Levine said. “How do they talk to each other? How do you configure each of them? How do you upgrade; how do you install them, and so on. That’s basically an orchestration for service mesh.” 

From the very beginning, Levine desired to focus on service mesh. But in order to get Solo.io off the ground and running she had to first strategize how to get there.

“In the beginning, I wanted to attack service mesh itself,” Levine said. “I said, ‘That’s what I’m going to do.’ But it was also really clear to me that there’s not going to be any money in this ecosystem for the next three to four years. So I said, ‘Okay, I can’t really come to my investor and say in three, four years or so.’ I said, ‘Okay, what can I do right now that will make my team extremely excited when service mesh will be better there, but it’s something that I can sell right now. And that’s when I kept the proxy as this piece and basically put it in an API gateway.” 

Clearly, Levine’s pragmatic strategy paid off. Behind every strategy must be a well-thought-out rationale. The most important aspect in creating a company is having a clear reason to do so. Every founder should have a clear reason why they are creating their company, although, of course, their reasons can be very different based on their perspectives.

I think that the reason I wanted to start a company is not because I wanted to start a company; it’s because, honestly, I felt that I can do better,” Levine said. 

For Levine, one area she strives to be the best at is in caring for her employees.

“I think that in Amazon the saying [is] that they are ‘customer obsessed’…I would say I’m employee obsessed,” Levine said. “And the reason is because there is nothing more important to me than my employees. I want them to be happy and to enable them.”

Caring for employees empowers them to do their best work. Content employees translate their happiness into quality care for customers.

“The customer’s happy too, because those guys care and it’s part of their company and they will do everything to make that successful,” Levine said. 

Some leaders are more led by the market; others seek to make a new one. Levine suggested a parallel approach. 

“[If] there is this great channel that’s coming from the market, then we need to do this because that’s customers running in production.” Levine said. “That’s what they need. We need to give [it to] them. But besides that, there is what to push. Where can we take it? What can we think about that they didn’t even know that they need yet?”

It is apparent that Levine is a strong leader with passion, conviction, and a commitment to compete. Her leadership has Solo.io driving API gateway tech, service mesh, and much more. There’s no doubt that she and Solo.io are competing with themselves and the entire industry for future innovation.

To hear more about how Levine and Solo.io are attacking their work and winning, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!

To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

IT Visionaries is brought to you by the Salesforce Platform – the #1 cloud platform for digital transformation of every experience. Build connected experiences, empower every employee, and deliver continuous innovation – with the customer at the center of everything you do. Learn more at salesforce.com/platform

Episode 316