Cloud computing advice for aspiring tech startups

When it comes to Tech startups, the US is still the market leader, however there are an increasing number of British entrepreneurs starting new ventures in the Tech industry.

If you are a budding entrepreneur looking to start a new Tech venture, we’ve spoken with a variety of successful UK Tech startups who are currently using the scalability of cloud computing to grow their business and develop software. Take a look at the expertise and experiences shared by the startups below to see how cloud computing could help you.

Below we have insights from Avin Rabheru, the Founder of Housekeep. Housekeep have developed a platform that connects consumers directly with vetted home cleaners online.

Cloud-based software and tools have made the process of launching a startup easier, cheaper and faster than ever. Whilst we have always kept core functions in house, like recruiting cleaners, at Housekeep we’ve often chosen to outsource non-core functions, seeking the best-in-class option for each task. For example, we use the secure payment system Stripe, to allow customers to pay by credit or debit card online, we use Mailchimp to communicate with customers and housekeepers, and we use Basecamp to manage internal projects and prioritise tasks. At Housekeep, we have also made use of cloud-based web analytics tools, like Google Analytics and Optimizely, and of course, we use the basic tools that every start up needs – Dropbox and Xero. The use of cloud-based software has allowed us to scale Housekeep incredibly fast, in terms of both our core technology and also user traction, which now stands at 1000s of customers and 100s of cleaners.

Next we have advice from Jason Collins, the Marketing Director at ZeroLight. ZeroLight provide car configurator solutions enabling users to engage with a real-time 3D visualisation to drive a live, interactive scene of the car.

ZeroLight is the creator of the world’s most advanced car configurator solution. Our technology is used in dealerships, flagship stores and pop-up shops to allow customers to configure vehicles on engaging, interactive digital screens, touch tables, kiosks, virtual reality headsets and more.   Our configurators are different because they create a live, interactive scene of the car rather than simply displaying pre-made images. This means we can offer a range of advanced and engaging features to explore and configure a car. For ZeroLight, the cloud is an opportunity to further develop our business and allows us to offer all of the features and benefits of our live scene car configurator on websites. By utilising cloud computing power, customers can have an advanced, interactive 3D car configuration experience at home. By moving the hard work of the 3D rendering away from the user’s computer and into the cloud we’re allowing any customer to use an engaging, graphically stunning car configurator regardless of the device they’re using.

We also have expertise from Andrew Bruce, the Marketing Manager at Swipii. Swipii have developed a free loyalty program that provides users with rewards from their favourite local businesses.

Cloud computing is hugely important to Swipii. We have a large distributed hardware network – our service requires an iPad next to the point-of-sale of each of our small business customers, so we have hundreds of units across the UK which all need to be constantly connected to our systems and monitored. Without cloud computing this would be a near-impossible task. The cost savings of cloud computing are obvious, but cloud computing also helps us overcome a lack of certain skills within our company. Early-stage startups can have a limited pool of skills within their team compared with big players – cloud computing allows us to concentrate more on maximising the skills we have in the company and not worry about technicalities of server maintenance, etc. It is also a saviour when your office has an unreliable Internet connection! Having a reliable cloud computing partner also means we can quickly add capacity and scale without delay and we don’t need to worry about a surge in demand for our services. With multiple offices in different parts of the UK and abroad, as well as staff out in the field, cloud computing allows us much better communication and we can build central resource banks for a lot of our staff to self-serve, making our whole team more efficient and making sure everyone has the most up-to-date versions of projects and materials.

Next we have intelligence from Mun Wai Kong, the Head of Engineering at Grabyo. Grabyo enable users to share real-time video across Twitter, Facebook, websites and mobile apps.

Cloud computing has become an integral part of tech startups, allowing them to be agile and to build and iterate fast. Grabyo is built on top of cloud technologies from the ground up, with most of its stack hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS provides a broad range of managed services and infrastructure that are designed with security, scalability and reliability in mind. We benefited from this and built our minimum viable product quickly, and were able to transform it into a highly available, scalable production service, with little effort. One of the biggest advantages of the cloud is flexibility – create new servers on demand for testing; monitor and manage infrastructure resources; scale capacity up and down to accommodate platform load; all via API calls or a simple web based UI. With a pay-for-only-what-you-use pricing model, we can ensure that costs are kept low, without compromising quality of service.

Finally we have guidance from John Peebles, the CEO of Administrate. Administrate is a developer of software that assists training companies and training departments to manage and deliver e-learning courses.

Here at Administrate, we don’t have an IT department. And while we’re still a smaller startup (24 people), we’re at the point where most companies would at least be thinking about IT to help with phones, computer setups, and other “IT Things”. But we don’t have any plans for an internal IT department, and that’s because everything we use is managed within and run by cloud based services. Our HR system? It’s in the cloud. Our support desk? In the cloud. Our document storage, phone system, and email? In the cloud. We don’t have a single physical server in our company, and even the software that’s installed on our team’s computers is subscription based and updated automatically. Not only do we gain a lot of efficiency from not having to worry about these things, we also save a ton of money and manpower, get better security (we use liberally 2 Factor Authentication and Single Sign-on, for example), better availability (no server to die running in a comms closet), and a cutting edge user experience. It also means that our staff can easily work on the road or from home if they need to, and for those members who are in different countries or offices we don’t have to worry about replicating a server or hiring local IT staff (or contractors). Lastly, we’ve been able to scale up to our current staff profile without laying out large chunks of cash. We pay monthly for our services, and only experience incremental cost when new employees are hired. All in all, making the conscious decision to avoid classic IT infrastructure and rely on the cloud has been a huge positive for us, and I think almost any business should strongly consider this approach.

We hope that the insights from these Tech startups has given you the actionable advice you need to use cloud computing to start and grow your new Tech venture.

Author Bio: Nigel Breddy is the Managing Director of Databax. Databax provides hosting and data backup services to businesses of all sizes across the UK.