Posts Tagged ‘ cloud ’

TechCrunch Disrupt – Insights and Advice

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011(http://disrupt.techcrunch.com) punctuated Michael Arrington’s career heading up TechCrunch. The final Disrupt for Arrington was held in San Francisco attracting over 2,500 leading technology innovators and investors and over 150 new startups. Despite the controversy and media maelstrom over shadowing the event, there was something else going on. Start-up entrepreneurs were unveiling new technologies and businesses.

Openera SmartCloud

Richard & Peter

Openera’s Founder & CEO, Peter Lalonde was there, showcasing SmartCloud in Disrupt’s Startup Alley, a startup launch platform, where over 200 companies exhibited their product or service.

Here are just a few of his perspectives and thoughts on Disrupt, the Startup Alley experience, and advice he’d give to other startups thinking of attending the next Disrupt conference:

What was the highlight for you at Disrupt?

For me it was getting real and honest feedback on SmartCloud. The opportunity to have other founders, investors, press and potential partners get excited about the promise of SmartCloud was outstanding. I was really impressed by a few startups that rose above the noise of so many similar themed ones.

What type of feedback did you get from Investors/attendees?

It was mostly good feedback. A lot of people said things like

“I’ve been waiting for something like this!” “oh my God, you’ve solved my biggest frustration.” or some variation of “wow, this is actually really useful! You’ve solved a real problem.”

It wasn’t all good feedback though. Some people just didn’t see the value. They don’t mind keeping all their content in their inbox. There were also concerns around security, which we expected, but our answer didn’t always satisfy people in hyper sensitive businesses. We’ll write a blog post about our view and approach to security.

Of all the other startups you saw in Startup Alley, were there any that you got excited about, and why? 

Yes! Definitely. Bitcasa was the standout, most disruptive company there. The fact that they didn’t win offended me! LOL. Their CEO, Tony Gauda, is dynamic, brilliant and quick witted. Their approach of offering infinite local/cloud storage for $10/month is groundbreaking on a technical level, pricing level and user experience level. They are exactly in-line with the SmartCloud philosophy of not changing user behaviour.

The other stand-out startup that also adopts the SmartCloud philosophy is Everpix. They have an elegant solution for solving the fragmented photo library problem. Like many people, I have photos scattered all over the web; MobileMe, Flickr, Facebook, Picassa and across several local drives and email!  Everpix will consolidate and even auto-curate your photos (hide bad pics) and organize them into ‘moments’ allowing you to easily collect from, and share photo moments with friends.

GoInstant is a fellow Canadian Start-up that has, what seems to me, the easiest shared browsing / screen sharing solution possible. No plug-ins, no logins, no hassle, immediate group browsing. Ideal for groups that want to test web-based products (like SmartCloud) – it even works on mobile browsers.

Special mentions to Sonar (a social networking app that brings your LinkedIn contacts (and others) into a location aware context) and CodeGuard (time machine + version control for your website and a cool logo!) as well as sponsors, UrtheCast (launching HD cameras into space to provide (and make available) essentially a new hi-res image of the planet every month.Tesla because Tesla is awesome and Elon Musk is a visionary and inspiring. SugarSync, because they might make a good partner, and EventBrite, because they disrupted local & social event ticketing and has made life easier for many people.

Tell us a little bit about the experience of being in Startup Alley. 

You give the pitch so often, you sometimes forget that what you are saying may have quite an impact on someone. If I could have done anything differently, I would have spent more time reaching out to people ahead of time. There were very few members of the press interacting with the Startups in Startup ally. They were mostly distracted by Arringtongate! I would have thought that, at a minimum, TechCruch would have sent someone to talk to each startup.

What advice/recommendations would you give to other Startups who are considering attending the next Disrupt?

You might want to read my other post on Disrupt for more insight. If you are a B2B start-up expect a good percentage of the attendees to not care about what you are doing. This may change, but social, mobile and games seem to be the startups that get all the attention. If you decide to be a part of startup ally you may want to push to be exhibiting on day 1. Our experience was that Day 1 was far more busy for startup ally. Don’t wear a costume! Even if it does get you attention, press, leads is it worth it? Most importantly, talk to other startups. Find ones you like and promote the hell out of them. The good ones are often not the ones in the battlefield. Get to know their pitch, value proposition, send people you talk to their way too to check them out. Finally, it’s all about the follow-up. What are you going to do after Disrupt?

Advertisements

Cross Cloud Confusion

Too many choices. Stuff being stored everywhere but no where, rogue silos, mobile added another layer of choice, complexity and confusion. Too many channels and too much is on. Always on. Every vendor I work with has their own cloud project management, billing, e-sign, file storage, sharing and team collaboration space. Some have mobile access, some don’t. Some have highly secure logins (for no reason) that require me to remember yet another username and password. (side note: I used to use one of those password keeper services, but I forgot my password for that service.) I was constantly bowing to the will of technology. I had to change the way I worked. No more.

No Change Necessary

SmartCloud Openera adds value to the most popular cloud services on the planet. The best part about SmartCloud? You don’t have to change the way you work. We make Dropbox better by saving all your email attachments to Dropbox, which means you don’t have to change, at all. We make Box an even better solution for businesses by magically pulling important contracts and files out of users inboxes and into their Box accounts where collaboration can happen. We inject critical business intelligence into Salesforce.com by siphoning all proposals, contracts and agreements out of reps email and into Salesforce, where it can kick-off workflows or be acted on by the team. Or maybe you just want to use SmartCloud to automatically save any photos people send you to your Flickr or Google Photo account.

If it’s in your inbox, it can be in the cloud – without any confusion.

My own cloud history (Part 1)

This is a partial re-post of a rather verbose post from last year. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own personal cloud history lately and this story is worth sharing again.

The Birth of Document Management | Interleaf was known for their technical publishing software (Interleaf 5 and 6 at the time) that ran on Unix and later PC. Because the documents our clients were creating were quite complex, we needed to provide them with ways to manage the documents and the Document Management industry was born. (It was a relational document management system sitting on an Oracle database, they called it RDM…very creative!) This was a fundamental that Interleaf got right. They listened to their customers and filled a need they were willing to pay for.
There was a real excitement over the future of document management and one of the most exciting times came when a developer web enabled RDM and our viewer technology called WorldView. (Way better than Adobe Acrobat at the time but Adobe decided to give away their viewer for free… well played Adobe. Well played.) This was in the heyday of Netscape and we called this web enabled viewer of business documents “Business Web”.
We went after our base and began selling. It was early, bleeding edge, but still garnered purchase orders. I began packaging services with the license and branded it the Business Web Starter Kit to get early adopters. It worked and at $50K a deal, we started doing quite well. Not mainstream success, but validated a need. I got more creative because I had to hit my quota. Working with GE Capital, I started offering customers a way to lease the licenses and roll in the services over 3 years. This approach brought PO’s from a few key accounts that had stalled. Then as objections arose around implementation, we began hosting business webs for clients who paid an annual license fee plus ‘maintenance’. We were able to secure a few clients before the wheels began to fall off at Interleaf and RDM was re-branded Quicksilver and the company sold to Broadvision.
Looking back on that time in the late nineties, I realize that it we had created a business model that made sense, but the technology was too bleeding edge at the time, and not mature enough to succeed. Most companies in the document/content management space eventually went to a hosted or ASP model by the mid 2000’s and Salesforce.com and Amazon matured the business model while addressing the security, performance and support aspects that made software-as-a-service (SaaS) mainstream and branded as “the cloud.” The technology was great, but it was the business model that made the biggest difference. We focused on the fundamentals and listened to our clients. They wanted to try bleeding edge technology to prove concepts and move the business further faster (one of our tag lines) but had limited capital budgets. By changing the business model, we tapped into operating expense budgets and reduced the friction of the sale.

If it’s not mobile… It’s crap.

Seriously. Any new application must be designed with mobile in mind. We are living in a post boardroom world. If an application or system does’t provide an equally stellar experience on a mobile device, I immediately wonder if the product is ready to spend time to adopt.

I’m not trying to be difficult, it’s just the reality of a growing number of ‘outwardly mobile’ professionals. we don’t work in offices every day. We need quick, easy and useful access to our stuff. Providing access to content without the ability to do anything useful with it is almost useless. So make it quick, make it easy and for Pete’s sake (that’s me!) make it useful!

People are the problem!

Why do fresh & shiny new systems fail? People. People suck! They don’t do what you want them to. They don’t follow instructions or read manuals. They can’t follow simple processes because they say they are “too busy ” well, get over it. Seriously. Please get over it. It’s time to admit you have a problem and that problem is people.

So, what are you going to do about it? For starters, why not try to accept that people aren’t going to change. Maybe the problem is you! How would you change the system to accommodate the way people actually work?

The Monumental Importance of Winning Together

"The Greed Vote"

Greed at the cost of partners is short sighted.

I talk to a lot of people about business development and partnering strategies. I die a bit every time. Well, not every time, just most of the time. It’s depressing the number of conversations I have where it becomes immediately clear that the only goal is to satisfy one goal. Revenue.

Don’t get me wrong, I love revenue. I love it a lot. But, why have such a singular goal that only satisfies one immediate need and carries such a low chance for success? The real goal is to satisfy at least 3 goals: your goal, the partners goal, the joint customers goal. (I could get altruistic and add the communities goal, but that will have to wait for another post.)

I see real people who work for real companies push to partner with another company, and fail to care what is in it for the potential partner. It sounds insane, doesn’t it? It is. So how can real people, working for real companies do that? Pressure.

Pressure is available in different styles and an unlimited quantity. Pick any one: the need for revenue, The boss said to partner with XYZ company. The CEO wants a press release….any reason really. Even the pressure of selfishness. I’m not blind to selfish motivation. We all start there. It’s the ability to quickly move beyond your own selfish motivation and be able to see and articulate the benefits the potential partner will realize that separate the good business developers from the bad.

It’s pressure, selfishness and maybe ignorance that stops most people from doing the right thing for lasting value. It’s simple, yet so complex.

Red Sox World Series Champions

Winning together is better!

Fortunately, it’s those factors that motivate forward thinking companies to work with the Openera team. We understand the pressure, eliminate ignorance and, in doing the right thing, justify the selfishness.

The irony in thinking this way is that it’s easier. Once you identify how your partner wins by working with you…. you’ve won. You can now have meaningful conversations about winning together.

I don’t want to mislead you, working with partners can make reaching your goals much easier, but it’s not easy. Balancing your goals with the goals of your partners is a tricky proposition. There will always be competing priorities and pressures. Successful partnerships take effort and time. The best way I know how to speed up a solid partnership is to win together. In order to win together, you have to bring a partner in on your deal. Establish trust, help the partner win. In doing so, you both win.

5 ways the cloud can be better for SMB companies

Gartner, Forrester and just about every other reputable analyst, technologist or CIO tend to agree. The Cloud is good for SMB companies.

The openera philosophy is simple. Believe in the open exchange of ideas and work with good people who are willing to work hard. Focus on your strengths and shore up your weaknesses with good partners. Succeed together.

Here are 5 ways The Cloud can help SMB Companies immediately:

  1. Manage Content (Documents, records, forms, media…)
  2. customer, partners contact management (CRM)
  3. Office essentials (Email, Calendar, Tasks…)
  4. Project Management (development, marketing, human resources…)
  5. Communication (VoiP, web presentations, im, chat & social.) 

We run our company on a combination of Google Apps (email, calendar, tasks & collaborative documents) Salesforce.com (CRM & Marketing Automation) Dropbox & Box.net for content management & back-up and Skype + DimDim for VoiP, Screen Sharing, and web presentations. For a few thousand dollars a year, we can run our entire organization better than well funded multi-national companies could 10 years ago. As a small business owner, that makes me smile.