Cloud Conversations: Cloud Specialist Janakiram MSV with Jishnu Bhattacharjee of Nexus Venture Partners – Part 1

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Cloud Specialist Janakiram MSV seeks a VC’s mind on Cloud as to how it is viewed by an investor. In conversation with Jishnu Bhattacharjee of Nexus Venture Partners, Janakiram gets Jishnu’s perspective on various facets of the Cloud and which areas are the investor’s focuses. He also finds out what an investor is looking for in a Cloud startup. In an interesting conversation providing a good insight, Jishnu tells Janakiram that an investor’s interest in the Cloud is much beyond it.

Cloud Story: As a VC what does Cloud mean to you?

Jishnu Bhattacharjee: In my mind, Cloud is a game changer in terms of how IT architecture and infrastructure are provisioned and managed, how applications are rendered in real time and on-demand. It’s less about where the Cloud is located, and more about the change in the modus operandi. In the last decade, Cloud was more used on the consumer side led by the likes of Google and Facebook, but more and more, Cloud is becoming mainstream for businesses and enterprises.

Cloud brings in many advantages like flexibility and faster time to market. Associated with the benefits are also the challenges around security and control. It’s a different way of looking at things, a technology inflection point that leads to sea of changes and different ways of addressing problems which were unheard of before :lots of opportunities for interesting startups to emerge.

Jishnu BhattacharjeeFor the companies you would be investing in, do you see Cloud as a catalyst?

Broadly speaking,I see two kinds of ‘Cloud’ start-ups; some that offer solutions for the Cloud, i.e. Cloud enablers, like Cloud.com or Gluster, and others that are Cloud users like Druva that leverages the Cloud or several SaaS providers whose business is based out of the Cloud.

There are many services which might not necessarily be built upon the Cloud but in general it is a very usefullever that startups should use.

What’s the percentage of Cloud pitches do you see?

Many. While there are several companies that use the Cloud, Cloud enablers are comparatively fewer :  barriers to entry for those are high, you need to have solid grasp of the intricacies of system infrastructures.

I’d also say that Cloud has become a standard term that everyone uses to place them as a Cloud startup. You need to drill down to know what’s actually happening.

Most importantly, we’re keenly looking for companies that solve real problems. Cloud can be a vehicle, not the main focus.

If a startup claims to belong to the Cloud, as a VC do you really care? Will a pitch earn brownie points because it is a Cloud startup?

I don’t think so. However, Cloud can be a great lever to start up and manage your operations efficiently. If needed, a company can build its own infrastructure later when they scale up. But to start up, being on the Cloud is much more efficient. One can concentrate more on the business that way. There might be very few situations where startups wouldn’t want to leverage the Cloud, e.g. not having enough bandwidth or maybe regulatory compliance issues of specific domains in which they’re operating.

What do you like to see in a Cloud pitch?

There isn’t really a thing like a Cloud pitch. Cloud is a means to an end. We want to partner with exceptional entrepreneurs who are solving big problems.

We would like to understand how the startup’s offering is different. Why can’t the existing solutions do it. How passionate, capable and committed you are in building a great company.

We would like to know who are you selling to, how do you find them, how much value your customers bring for your business vs how much it costs you to acquire them. What it takes for a prospective customer to try and start using your solution. How long does it take to sell.

With Cloud, the sales model is getting more direct. You can leverage Cloud to make your solution ease to use / self-serve, that can significantly reduce your sales cycle. Cloud short circuits the provider and the consumer, helps scale your business faster.

What made you invest in Druva, Cloud.com and Gluster? What is common among them other than being Cloud focused startups?

The common thread is entrepreneurs : exceptional entrepreneurs addressing big unserved needs. We really felt they’re going to make something happen. Usually, ideas will morph and evolve, but people largely will not. We look for that passion and commitment to build something great, and agility to adapt as needed to make things happen.

Stay tuned for the rest of the conversation.