From almost selling chappatis online to setting up a successful cloud tech company, how Vinothini Raju did it all
What does one do after a decade of being married, tending to kids and working in a corporate? Some find god, while a few have a little spark left in them to go and dream a little dream that defines their life and personality. Vinothini Raju spent a decade in corporate, building and testing network protocols, when she stumbled upon cloud technology. At the time there was a global argument amidst technologists about the merits of storing corporate information in a private or public cloud, or in remote data centres under lock and key. There were naysayers to the merits, but cloud technology was here to stay. The fall in storage and compute prices created a consumer revolution, which in turn changed the way information dissemination happened in enterprises.
Vinothini had the gumption to understand that the cloud would soon need experts who could deploy services and operate them through automation. She went ahead and founded Bluemeric in 2011.
The entire technology architecture of enterprises, as we speak, is shifting information technology to support personal devices of employees and consumers. So what does the CIO do? He or she calls in the new mechanics of information technology, Bluemeric, a development-operations (DevOps) engineering company, to bring solutions. This startup makes sure that the cloud does not collapse under its own weight when there is more consumer traffic to handle than planned for. They are able to automate, through software, the entire infrastructure to rapidly scale and deploy upgrades and test, simultaneously, for the whole process flow of the modern company.
“I had the resolve to become an entrepreneur because I was constantly discussing business and ideas. I just decided to quit and start a company overnight,” says Vinothini. She had finished her schooling and engineering in Erode, a small trading town in Tamil Nadu. She almost came to be selling chappatis on an online platform for the Marathalli area in Bengaluru, but found her calling in time.
Vinothini's premise in starting her business was simple: the web/mobile commerce market and services were here to stay and anyone would work with an engineer who understood the art of keeping the lights on in the new world of cloud technology. She began with two engineers and now has a team of 25 working on cloud technology for several Internet companies in the US.
The market size and opportunity
There is money to be made in this business for an IT engineering company.
- There are over 1.5 lakh e-commerce websites across the world. Every time there is a sale e-commerce companies have to provision their servers to handle massive amounts of consumer traffic, which come into these websites through multiple devices. If these servers cannot handle the load the shopping process tumbles into a pit of errors and the customer trust in the app or the website is lost forever.
- According to Gartner, every minute of down-time is a massive loss for an Internet company. The average loss is estimated to be $140,000 per hour and added to this the down-time makes a business lose customers, which means revenues are going to plummet.
- The market size for DevOps toolsets hit $2.3 billion in 2015, up by 21.1 percent from $1.9 billion in 2014 according to a report from Gartner. The report adds that by the end of 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche strategy employed by large cloud providers to a mainstream strategy employed by 25 percent of Global 2000 organisations.
The business model
The business model for advanced startups like BlueMeric is based on a per project-and-time model. BlueMeric will need to work towards securing long-term contracts with large companies or SMBs around the world in order cross revenues of more than a $1 million. It is self-funded, so far, and has managed to stay profitable. Vinothini put in less than $20,000 in the business and has scaled up as a core technology business. Her competition IdeaDevice raised $4 million in 2013 from a clutch of investors. There are companies like 8KPC and RelevanceLabs that are strong contenders to win this market.
“Disruption is a necessity in the IT world and the business of cloud adoption is rapid in the Western markets. The cloud too is being disrupted and DevOps is a high volume low margin business,” says Sanchit Vir Gogia, CEO, Greyhound Research.
According to Gartner, there were 1.9 billion mobile phones shipped in 2015. A total of 2.4 billion devices were sold worldwide in the same year. With device proliferation the number of consumers shopping on devices is going to increase and the cloud is going to only proliferate into the world of business. So DevOp startups can make it big with a clear differentiation in technology. Bluemeric is building their platform on Kubernetes and Dockers, both open source platforms, to scale up management and discovery of applications in a data centre. The opportunity, clearly, depends on the number of international customers that this startup can sign up at the earliest.