The Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure powered by TechStars ended its inaugural class last week with a Demo Day in Silicon Valley, but that doesn't mean we should stop showing off the goodness. Here is an interview with Socedo, a social media marketing analytics company run by Kevin Yu, Co-founder & CTO and Aseem Badshah, CEO.
Do you build for scale first, or for revenue? How are those things related in your mind?
We build B2B software so revenue needs to be top of mind. That being said, it’s very important to have top of funnel customer interest in addition to active users before turning on a pay wall.
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 make reasonable predictions about how we are going to achieve revenue and then test them out. Today we have a relative idea of our pricing strategy but we have a lot more work to talk with our current active beta users so we can understand how much value we provide and what we can charge.
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?
The biggest questions are around cost and scale. What will this cloud architecture cost us today and two years down the road? How do these costs increase as we bring on more customers and those customers have bigger processing needs? How do we need to setup our pricing structure so additional cloud costs can effectively be passed along to the customer? Reliability is also huge. If I pick this cloud architecture, will I be able to guarantee uptime for our customers? What type of support can we get if something goes down? How long will it take to get things back up if they go down?
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?
Today we have a lot of questions about our go-to-market plan and the target verticals we will be going after. We know that our product will do better in certain verticals but we are not totally sure which ones they are. As we work with more customers we expect to nail this in the next month or two. Pricing is also a big question. Is this a $50/month product that will be used by lots of businesses or a $5,000/month product that will be used by a few businesses? We have some idea but there is a lot more testing to be done.
Where do you include technical members of your team during the building of your business plan?
Our CTO and co-founder is very involved with all aspects of the business plan. It is important for our engineering team to understand our go-to-market plan since conversion rates through the onboarding pipeline are crucial. Today, technology and marketing need to be tightly integrated for the most impact.
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?
At the end of the day, this is a serious business and we need to have profits at the top of mind for our investors and stakeholders. That being said, there is no point in working this hard if we weren’t having fun and if we didn’t believe we are changing the world J
Kevin Yu, Co-founder & CTO and Aseem Badshah, CEO
When did you decide that you were “startup material”?
I (CEO) have known this since elementary school. I’ve never had a real job and have always run my own businesses through college and after graduation. My co-founder (CTO) really started to become interested in startups when he was doing his executive MBA at the University of Washington. A few years later he joined the Founders Institute and hasn’t looked back since.
What impact or legacy do you hope to make in the market and in the business world?
Social media is revolutionizing the way we start and build relationships in the business world. Our goal is to be at the center of this and to provide a solution so all business relationships are more effective. Just as CRM left a legacy on the way businesses traditionally manage relationships, Socedo will leave a similar legacy in the 21st century.
Does working on a startup change the way you associate and interact in these areas?
Absolutely, these areas of our life are impacted! It’s tough to manage the other aspects of life when you are consumed with your startup and need to be 110% dedicated. My co-founder and I are very open with other about this and have regular conversations about our mental, physical and social health. The other teams in the Microsoft Accelerator also provide a great support system.
What makes your startup a startup?
The idea that we can do anything that we put our mind to. We own our destiny and get to work in a super dynamic environment every day. The opportunity is huge and we’re excited every day to achieve it!
Obligatory questions that assist us in marketing J
Can you describe the relationship that you have had with Microsoft in building your startup?
We’ve had a very close relationship with Microsoft. We have worked with startup focused Microsoft evangelists to connect with the local startup community and to get access to BizSpark Plus. We were accepted to the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure and just graduated from the program on January 17th. We are also building 100% on the Microsoft platform.
Why would an entrepreneur turn to Microsoft for help in building scale, a team, or using software?
The tools and software that Microsoft can provide are great (especially when you can save costs with BizSpark). That being said, we have been very impressed by the relationship we’ve been able to have with Microsoft. It’s amazing that a Microsoft evangelist will take you to lunch and help you through business/technology problems! The startup programs like BizSpark, the Microsoft Accelerator and the Bing Fund are totally entrepreneur focused compared to the programs that other large tech companies run. It really feels like Microsoft cares about the startup community and helping entrepreneurs succeed rather than just focusing on their own agenda.
Tell us about your Azure-based solution.
Azure is the foundation of Socedo business. It allows us to scale out easily as we onboard more customers rapidly. It also provides a cost effective mechanism storing and processing large volume of data we pull in from social media every day.
How is Azure implemented in your solution?
We use Azure to store and process large volume of social data and derive leads out of those data. Azure also hosts all internal and external facing engineering portfolio, including our production site.
How did you get excited about Azure?
We are excited about Azure b/c of its complete offerings, Microsoft’s strong commitment for Cloud Computing, and BizSpark+ program that helps lower our infrastructure cost.
What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?
Some of the top features we like about Azure include:
What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?
If you don’t have a highly scalable backend, you don’t have a scalable business. When you scale your backend, think not only performance but also cost-effectiveness
Watch the CEO of Socedo, Aseem Badshah, pitch the company and vision at the Microsoft Accelerator, powered by TechStars Demo Day on January 17th 2013.
Learn how Socedo can help you find and engage with the right leads at the right time.
Photo: Aseem Badshah, CEO Socedo