It turns out that daydreaming really does more from you than distract you during the subway commute or the hour long drive into work. When you take the intrinsic qualities of daydreaming and use those visualizations to craft goals for yourself, you end up with something like a future, according to the folks who are launching DreamItAlive.
DreamItAlive is one of those “all Microsoft” startups in BizSpark. From a technical perspective they have decided to go all in with the stack. As far as their work in the program, they “show up,” participating in dozens of startup-related and BizSpark-related events a year. Today, we are featuring them as one of our Featured BizSpark Startups on Azure. We are also including an archived live interview we did with their co-founder and CTO Erin Mester a few weeks ago. It’s at the end of this interview.
Co-founder Ash Kumra speaks highly of his team’s experience with Microsoft, the Microsoft BizSpark program, and their choice to host on Azure. In fact, this is what he says about the team’s technology choices.
Our website www.dreamitalive.com is hosted using Azure’s cloud service functionality. We’re planning on growing our membership rapidly so our website needs to ultimately be able to handle hundreds of millions of users. Some of our primary concerns are to assure we will have very high availability, performance, scalability, and reliability. Azure is ideal in that it provides this and much more. We also love that it allows us to easily scale up and down according to what our current needs are so we will only pay for the resources we are using. This provides excellent flexibility for us. Azure is an ideal solution for us in many ways.
Here’s our interview with co-founder Ash Kumra.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
You build for scale so you can build a loyal following that sees value in the product. Simultaneously you build features that you can bring value to sponsors and advertisers. We are a conscious business where we try to find value for all our stakeholders (advertisers, users, cause partners, team members) simultaneously so the overall community wins.
Do you make reasonable predictions about how you are going to achieve revenue and then test them out, or do you start with a business model and deploy it, to see if it brings in revenue?
We look at our business very holistically. We are a product driven company and if the features benefit our community and world; we know it will make money since $ is always attracted to things that are beneficial.
What questions do you think a startup non-technical founder needs to answer when considering a cloud architecture for his or her startup, and I am thinking specifically here during the business model generation period?
- Can the solution not affect site performance?
- Will the solution allow us to access site performance from anywhere in the world?
- Is it affordable in comparison with dedicated hosting? What are the pros/cons?
What questions do you and your technical co-founder / engineering team feel are the most important to solve about the business aspects of your company?
Can scaling and site performance constantly be on par with growth of our website. We needed to come up with a technology solution that would allow us to create a highly scalable, social community based website that would be easy to adapt and grow according to the needs of our community and business.
Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?
In the beginning. You should always have a combination of creative, business strategy and technical foundation in decision making (especially with websites).
How much of what you are building is based on leaving a legacy and how much of it is based on technical challenges, or the ability to make something just for fun? In other words, where do you fall on the seriousness scale? For fun, for profit, for life?
We are honestly living our purposes. Every sprint, challenge, growth increase and other opportunities make our venture better, stronger and beneficial to us. From this we constantly make ways to make our experience the best for our community.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
We want to make a venture that helps individuals achieve their dreams and goals. If we do this then our purpose building DreamItAlive.com was done correctly.
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
An entrepreneur is someone who does whatever it takes to find a solution. They believe in their venture so much that they can identify its cons and provide solutions. An entrepreneur most importantly a Dreamer, doer and someone who never lets daily troughs affect the bigger picture.
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
I have had a great marketing relationship with Jean Elliott, Timothy Strimple and Douglas Crets. Both have helped our company with Microsoft resources (including the Azure solution), marketing opportunities (such as this one) and advice on how to leverage the Microsoft network.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Microsoft has so many resources to help companies scale cheaper, faster and better. Microsoft also has many mentorship related opportunities. It will cost you more not to get help/
Want to hear more about the team’s views on building a company? Here’s our live interview with Erin Mester, CTO, a few weeks ago:
How is Azure implemented in your solution?
We recently migrated to Azure but are already utilizing many of its unique features such as Azure database, Azure storage components including blobs, tables, and queues, the content discovery network, and caching for example.
How did you get excited about Azure?
A Microsoft representative initially told us about Azure and once we looked into it and realized all of the functionality and advantages especially with respect to scalability we decided very quickly that it was the solution we wanted. Being able to access it through BizSpark made the decision practically a no-brainer since it provides a lot of benefits for start-ups like us.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Ease of scalability was one of the primary deciding factors. There are many features within Azure that we are utilizing as mentioned above. The features provided by the content storage components are especially beneficial in our scenario. Being able to tap into the benefits of all of these features factored into our decision to switch to Azure.
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
I would suggest to do some analysis to try to get a good understanding of everything that needs to be done to fully integrate the desired Azure features into your current solution. For example in our scenario, because we wanted to take full advantage of the robust functionality Azure provides, we needed to integrate it fairly deeply into our technology. This required a lot of changes and some of our existing functionality also broke unexpectedly and needed to be updated to work properly in the Azure environment. As a result the migration ended up taking longer than expected. If you’re able to take advantage of the many great features Azure provides, it will be worth the effort but understanding the transition will help you to better plan. Make sure you learn as much as you can about all of the functionality you can tap into with Azure so you can fully maximize the benefits once you’re migrated.