How did Isaac Sabas start Pandora Labs?
Isaac Sabas founded Pandora Labs in 2012. It started way back when Isaac was teaching Computer Science at De La Salle University. He saw before that the students were demotivated because of their vague future after graduating.
Isaac wanted to show them that the talent that Filipinos had was globally competitive. This goal led him to research the best opportunity that Computer Science can give, the business model he should use, and the resources he should acquire to start it all. He also realized that there were a lot of bright students that with the proper guidance would become amazing individuals.
He started Pandora Labs with the motivation of proving that Filipino-made products and/or services can be great when compared to other countries.
Because of his experience working with an American security company, Isaac took inspiration from them. He liked their business model, and later realized that it was new in the Philippines.
With some rigorous planning and theorizing, a year of developing the initial prototype, and some very generous students who believed in his vision, Pandora Labs was born.
The initial prototype was the brainchild of Isaac and all the students who helped him. Through multiple iterations and very big and game-changing decisions, they were able to create the product with the use of only Filipino technology.
Was it your first job that sparked the idea that this could be a security company where we can showcase that the Filipino people are better than what the world thinks we are?
It was because of Isaac’s first job and his previous background as a freelancer that this idea was built up. This was one of the many opportunities that he could make a business out of.
What does Pandora Lab do?
Pandora Labs was a Pinoy security company. It was focused on security systems and services. For the business model, there were two types. The first was through a consultancy business model, and the second one was the subscription model.
They have and are still trying to break the notion that security is expensive. through the platform that they were building.
Can you tell us about the journey from being a founder to eventually merging with another business?
Isaac wanted his business, Pandora Labs to make it out there—to prove that a Filipino company can become a success story. That motivated him to be more aggressive in looking for opportunities.
At the time, the company named Bolton Remote had an ample number of customers that were looking for security services. However, their issue was that they didn’t have enough security capabilities and the fact that there was very little security technology that backed them.
Pandora Labs and Bolton Remote eventually came to an agreement, as they both had what the other was looking for. Isaac had a product that needed a customer base, while Bolton Remote had a customer base but needed a solid product to offer.
The journey was about understanding how it could catapult their reach to a larger scale because if they would have done it by themselves, it would have taken longer than expected. It’s was also about the growth of our market and sales in the local market.
The opportunity that Bolton Remote provided was a blessing. It made sense because our needs and resources aligned precisely.
What’s the difference between working as the founder of Pandora Labs and the Vice President of Product for Bolton Labs?
One of the biggest changes was the shift in responsibility. Before, Isaac was responsible for everything—from his employees to his customers. It was a lot of pressure.
Now, as the VP of Product, he sees things in a different lens. He thinks about how he can accelerate growth, how he can improve the software, other capabilities that he could provide to the customers, and more.
All of Isaac’s concerns have been more focused now compared to when he was a CEO.
The merger was beneficial for both parties. Prior to that, Isaac was looking for different ways to fund growth. He met with multiple possible investors, but he found something crucial in Bolton Remote which made him say yes immediately.
They already had a deep understanding of who their market is, as well as a customer base that was lined up for Isaac to serve. Isaac wasn’t looking for the largest amount of cash, he was looking two, three steps further.
You mentioned that you wanted to fund growth. What kind of growth were you talking about?
The first way of funding growth is through accumulating money and hiring the right people. In the local setting, we didn’t have enough experience in growing SaaS products, Additional Service products, and services. Isaac couldn’t find good resources for people to learn from.
The other way of funding growth is by looking for synergistic opportunities with potential partners. Though they might not give you cash, talent, or the capability to make your business grow, instead, they already have potential customers. These customers are looking for a product and are very willing to provide feedback on it.