Apr 9, 2021, Consulting, Infrastructure

Cloud for startups – “I want to be a billionaire”

Jacek Bochenek Cloud and Security Team Leader - CISSP, CISM, CCSP

In this multi part series I will write about what cloud providers offer to developers who have great ideas, limited or no funding  and want to utilize the cloud to start a successful company providing world class services worldwide.

I want to be a billionaire

So, you woke up on a sunny Sunday morning and decided to become a billionaire. This is as good of an idea as any other. When you think about it, it actually makes sense, since giving yourself a great goal is not such a bad thing at all. Now that you’ve set your goal, how can you accomplish it? But before we go any further, let’s see who you actually are.

  • You’re a developer
  • You’ve huge debt – yes, those college loans are like a millstone around your neck
  • You live on Chinese soups bought in a hardware store for $1 per 10 pack
  • You’ve known cloud basics since you’ve finished college 
  • You go to a coffee shop after all night coding frenzy with your friend who likes to listen to trash rock while working
  • You’ve read hundreds of “From zero to billionaire” stories, and what’s most important…
  • You have a great idea for a software that will revolutionize the world

When you look at the list, you’ll realize that the biggest value you have is the great idea, your ability to write computer programs and …. Well, there isn’t much more. So what do you do next? You’re probably thinking “Let’s engage a Venture Capital company that will give me some money”. Nope, no one will give you any money if you can’t show something to prove that your software can actually revolutionize the world. And you can’t prove it if you don’t have a product, you don’t have a product because you don’t have any money…. And… Yes, you’re right – we have a Catch 22 Situation. But fear not, there is a solution to that. Before we go any further, let’s bring forward the MVP idea.

MVP – Minimum Viable Product

You’re all pumped up and you start coding. You’re spending all your time developing. You want to have all the features you’ve thought of. You want it to be polished, flashy and breathtaking. You spend a lot of time (time which you don’t have). After a few months you want to go all out, you publish it and …. The balloon inflates. No one is interested, no one wants to use it, and worst is that many people bring to your attention that your program doesn’t solve any problems. You’re getting frustrated, you abandon your work and quit your dreams of becoming a billionaire. So, what went wrong? Is there another way? Yes! Let’s look at the concept of Minimum Viable Product and the steps that should be taken in order to be successful.

If you’re not ashamed of your first product, then you’ve waited too long.

MVP is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development. This approach will prevent you from wasting time on a product that no one will use. So, where to start? First of all, you should define a problem you want to solve. It might seem obvious but many early adopters forget about that. When you have it, you should make the simplest product that you can show to your clients. It should take rather weeks than months to develop . Rather than only focusing on the functionality, you should go to your potential customers with a product that will present every aspect of your solution – functionality (only the core services), reliability, usability, brilliant design.

This approach will enable you to show your actually working product (yes, might be a bare bone prototype) to potential customers, and what is most important – get their feedback. This way, you’ll avoid situations where you spend many precious hours only to learn that your product is worth… nothing. The cycle – idea – product – feedback – improvement will enable you to improve your product in small steps and go in the same direction as your potential customers.

Case Study – Airbnb

It all started in 2007 when the founder defined the core problem (remember what we’ve stated about – start with defining the problem). During the Industrial Design Society of America Conference (IDSA) in San Francisco, all the hotels were overbooked. So they’ve bought a few air beds and simply set up a site called “Air Bed and Breakfast”. They’ve charged $80 per night for bed and breakfast. So, were they successful right away? Not at all. They had their problems. One of them was a lack of customers – they only had two at that time, one of them being the co-founder. So they’ve decided to revamp the site, and they launched again in 2008 right before the national Democratic Party Convention. Over 600 people stayed at airbnbs, but the success was short lived. They had to do some other jobs to fund the project (They began selling election-themed cereals. The Airbnb founders managed to make a whopping $30,000 selling the Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains – see the landing page). Soon they discovered that their main problem was poor quality of the room pictures. They bought a camera and went door to door taking good quality photos. After that, in March 2009 they had 2500 listings and over 10000 users. Right now the number of listings is counted in millions and the company is worth billions of dollars. The latest addition was to use AI technology for smarter, more personalized application experience.

But I have limited funds  to test my concept in real world

As we said previously, you don’t have much money. So, can you go about and try your idea in the real world? Actually, the situation doesn’t look so bad as you might think. You can leverage many free services and possibilities provided by the major public service providers. In the next parts, I’ll introduce services and products of all major public cloud providers that can help startups in the early stages of their products’ and services’ development.

Hopefully, this series will help with your start and at the end, interest potential investors. Developing a world class solution is not an easy task. Our company helped many startups to expand their solution beyond MVP. We can provide the best expertise in design, mobile application development, backend solutions, security and advanced cloud computing platform design.