Cloud Connect 2012. Conversations with Uri Budnik about RightScale, the future of cloud computing and how he got into technology. Uri also tells a funny story about an IT executive crying over a technology install.
Jeff chats with Greg Gottesman, a managing partner at Madrona Venture Group, about why timing is everything, which three factors a VC looks for in an early-stage startup, and how Greg is bringing new meaning to the phrase "pet project."
Kabir Shahani and his team at Appature want to help marketers create intensely personal customer experiences. How are they going to do it? By leveraging the incredible opportunities the current technology space is affording them, aggregating massive amounts of data, and always striving to solve a new problem. Oh - and maybe trying to create a new unicorn too.
Though he almost went down the path to becoming a doctor, Kabir realized early on that technology was where his passion lay. “It’s clear that’s where I wanted to spend the rest of my career,” he says. So when his business partner presented him with the idea of solving a real, customer-based problem through enterprise software, Kabir just couldn’t say no - and Appature was born. (2:08)
“We focused on value creation - the concept was that everything we did created value for the customer, and was significant enough to create revenue,” he explains of the early days at Appature. “Your idea doesn’t really matter, it’s the value your idea creates.” Their philosophy was simple - talk face to face with customers and find a real problem customers would pay to have solved. (3:50)
Visionaries always in search of a completely new solution, Kabir and his team met with customers and would “wire frame out ideas on a whiteboard” and bring them back to the office to build. “Now we’ve got to create this magical creature you just made up” was a common refrain - and so the unicorn became their mascot. (6:50)
“The last 12 months have been particularly interesting,” says Kabir. “We’re seeing that the architecture under which we built technology is going through the biggest shift it has in the last 20 years. Companies like ours who are leveraging those trends like big data, and we are creating the next generation of enterprise software.” (11:50)
“We’re very oriented towards obsoleting ourselves,” Kabir says of his growing team at Appature. And they’re just getting started. Ever-focused on making marketing massively personal through data, the future looks very exciting for Kabir and Appature. “We’ve got a lot of runway.” (13:19)
Former firefighter Jesse Robbins is comfortable under pressure - in fact, he thrives on it. Channeling positive energy and optimism into his growing organization, Jesse and his team at Opscode have been changing the game in enterprise software and say they are just getting started. “We want to be a stand-alone giant,” says Jesse. Something tells us Jesse’s motto - “don’t fight stupid, make more awesome” - might just be their battle cry.
Though he grew up as a computer kid, Jesse’s interests weren’t just technological - in the past he’s studied theater and worked as a firefighter. In fact, his history as a firefighter helped him develop his past role at Amazon and his future philosophies: “On 9/11, I realized my training and skills really could have a profound impact on a technology organization that would depend on me if things got worse. I decided ‘I’m going to figure out a way to mix these two worlds together.’”
Relentless positivity and optimism are the secrets behind Jesse’s success. “I’m a dreamer, I believe in the incredible potential of people,” he says. It’s this attitude that led him to create a company culture founded on “making more awesome” in the world. His priorities always lie with what can be done next, and exploring all possibilities.
Despite his positive outlook, when he and Opscode were first starting out, they faced their fair share of lows; he explains, “When you’re trying to change the way big organizations work, a lot of people say no a lot. Rather than try to fight them, you’ve got to find a way to make them say yes...Being a force for awesome in the world is finding ways to say yes.”
Culture is incredibly important to Jesse and his Opscode team. “Early on we made a lot of decisions about how to respect and interact with our community,” he explains. “We exist as peers with a community bigger than us.” This is why he believes in “the golden rule of email” - send unto others only the emails you’d want to receive yourself.
Despite bumps in the road along the way, the future looks bright for Jesse and Opscode. What’s his advice for the next generation of startups? Get used to challenges. “If you’re struggling, recognize it’s going to be this way forever.” And that might be a good thing.