Featured BizSpark Startup – Drawboard


Today’s Featured BizSpark Startup is Drawboard from Australia.

Microsoft Azure plays a hefty part in one Australian startup’s success. Alistair Michener, CEO and Founder of Drawboard, explains how it has helped his company gain traction in a market with millions of potential users.

When you have an idea that could potentially gain traction with millions of users worldwide, you need a backend that can handle anything you throw at it. That’s why Alistair Michener chose Microsoft Azure as the cornerstone of his startup’s platform.  The computer-aided designed (CAD) industry might never be the same again as a result.

“From the very beginning, Microsoft helped Drawboard take the right path,” says Michener. “The cloud can provide powerful benefits that would be very difficult to implement with on premise hardware, but it requires a new way of thinking. To be sure your cloud services are always working for you instead of against you, take the time to understand the cloud architectures and patterns.”

Drawboard is digitally replacing pen and paper for professional and academic users, particularly those in CAD industries like engineering.

“I was working as a chemical engineer when I realized there just had to be a way to reduce the time lost when manually printing, annotating, redlining and then scanning CAD documents again for others to review.”

Azure, he says, was the obvious choice. Drawboard is a next-generation PDF annotation app targeting computer-aided design (CAD) industries that also can be used by anyone working with a PDF file.  With Azure, Michener’s Australian startup could spread around the world with ease.

With a global customer base, Drawboard’s cloud requirements are quite stringent, explains Michener. Using Azure's vast feature set paired with intuitive implementation steps meant that the startup could deliver services to its customers a lot more quickly than on other cloud providers.

Specifically, easy implementation of scale and redundancy were necessary features for Drawboard. Features almost as critical were service reliability and performance. Azure, which they accessed through the Microsoft BizSpark program, unlocked everything the startup needed.

“Our websites, APIs and cloud processing is all hosted on various technologies through the Azure platform,” says Michener. “We host our websites and databases through virtual machines, which allows us to scale out if we ever get spikes in customer load.”

Words of Wisdom for Young Startups

Michener found the early stages of launching Drawboard extremely tough, especially because he had a full time job while developing the company. He would often stay up until 4 or 5a.m. before a full day of work. That, however, placed a strain on personal relationships. His advice to other entrepreneurs is simple: Dedicate more time to those you care about and give them your full attention during those times. 

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