If you have not been keeping up on the news about BizSpark and Azure, you might draw the same conclusion that many others have drawn before -- that Microsoft is not friendly with open source. Not true. Our next founder interview is with Kushal Shah, a founder who built open source into his Azure-based solution. oFunnel is IaaS. According to Kushal, the frontend is Ruby on Rails and backend is .NET. Specifically Web APIs.
The last time we spoke to Kushal, it was as a guest on the Microsoft BizSpark Show. We talked to him about the benefits he experienced as a member of the third Accelerator class we did with TechStars in Seattle. He also talked about why he has faith in Windows Azure and why he built his company on the platform. oFunnel is built with Windows Azure, .NET. Web APIs.
This time he's back for a fundamentally more in-depth interview about what it takes to be a business leader in the entrepreneurship circuit. He does not disappoint.
How did you get excited about Azure?
The BizSpark offers was the key which ensures startups can afford it during the early startup stage. That's how we got turned on to the solution.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
IaaS and ability to host Linux machines for our RoR frontend.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
They both go hand in hand. From business perspective certainly, focus is on getting revenue first. But soon enough scale also needs to be addressed so that we can provide a consistent experience to our paying customers.
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?
Yes, we have an idea on how many customers will take to onboard before we can ask for money. This is also based on predictions that how many features we will be asked for and will build based on the feedback in early stage for a strong enough value proposition to charge our users.
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
I didn’t know initially. I knew I want to do something on my own. But wasn’t sure if I am capable. You learn and slowly you realize you have some basic qualities to continue surviving and eventually to thrive.
Watch our interview with Kushal on The Microsoft BizSpark Show
What characteristics do you possess that make you an entrepreneur? What makes your startup a startup?
Never say die. Hard work.
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
MS Accelerator has been a founding stone for our startup. We couldn’t have imagined making so much progress without it.
Of course, we are using Azure for hosting our entire app. So certainly dependent on it entirely.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
Software certainly. The startup programs are another great opportunity provided by Microsoft to take your idea, validate it and take its 1st version to market.
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
That is the way to go. Don’t even think about anything else. Also, IaaS is a good starting point as you are still validating the idea and before you build for scale.