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Bootstrapping a Cloud Startup with Services on Force.com from London: Alex Fuller, Co-Founder and CTO of CloudSense (Part 4)

Posted on Saturday, Aug 30th 2014

Sramana: During the nine-month bootstrapping phase, how many people were focused on the services business and how many people were focused on product development? I’m also curious about how your business breaks down between Croatia and London.

Alex Fuller: The business breaks down 50/50 between London and Croatia. We also bring consultants from Croatia onsite with UK customers because the distance is not prohibitive. During the first year, we had 25 people. Most of them were focused on projects with clients. We had about eight people doing R&D development during that time.

Sramana: What costs did you have to cover during those nine months with the services revenue?

Alex Fuller: The principal cost was people.

Sramana: Providing salaries for eight people is not insignificant.

Alex Fuller: That is definitely true. There were four of us who were founders and we put a lot in ourselves. We obviously did not take money out of the company, and we worked hard to keep cost as low as possible. We considered whether or not we should solicit funds early on, and we decided to bootstrap so that we would not give away equity in the business before we had value. That has proven to be beneficial for us.

Sramana: Once you had the product ready and listed it on the exchange, how did you find your first customers?

Alex Fuller: We went after our customers. One of the things that we did do was talk to people at Salesforce, especially with the UK Salesforce team, to socialize what we had and what we were doing. That was very useful to us. That gave us an awareness of what we were doing. They knew of customer needs, plus when they heard of new requirements from customers, they were able to remember us.

We did our own direct work as well. Everyone who goes through this process knows that there is a lot of time and hard work that goes into that. There is a lot of investment in sales and marketing.

Sramana: How much of a role did the Salesforce AppExchange play in the early phase of your business?

Alex Fuller: AppExchange itself was not the vehicle we were using. We really focused on relationships. We worked hard to make sure we were in front of the minds of account executives and sales engineers. That is partly a reflection on what we were producing. AppExchange has a wide variety of apps and it is particularly strong for apps that have definitive purpose and can be installed with a few clicks.

We are much more enterprise-oriented. You can’t get away from the fact that at some point you have to have some conversations about how the customer wants to use the software. They will want to analyze their own business to get the most out of the capabilities of the system. We have left the one-click installer approach and have those conversations with our customers.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping a Cloud Startup with Services on Force.com from London: Alex Fuller, Co-Founder and CTO of CloudSense
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