Reggie Bradford: 'Start up if you can solve something well'
The Senior Vice President of Oracle Startup Ecosystem and Accelerator emphasises the need to adopt AI, Machine Learning, and cloud to get ahead in the startup business.
Reggie Bradford is someone you need on your side if you own a startup. He may be known as the man who runs the Oracle Startup Ecosystem and Accelerator and a Senior Vice President there, but he carries with him a spirit of entrepreneurship, ingrained in him by his father.
Though he comes from a family that manufactured craft beer, Reggie has also worked in large organisations like Coors and WebMD. He earned his chops by building and selling three startups, whose combined value gave an exit of $5 billion to shareholders.
Apart from WebMD, the other two companies that provided stellar valuations were N2Broadband and Vitrue. The latter was sold to Oracle in 2012 and since then Reggie has been instrumental in setting up the startup accelerator for Oracle in 2016.
He thanks Thomas Kurian, President of Product Development at Oracle, for helping him set up the startup accelerator in India, thanks to the burgeoning number of young companies, before expanding to six global centres.
In a conversation with YourStory, he talks about cloud, Artificial Learning (AI), Machine Learning, and the power of software.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
YS: A few years ago, the word cloud was not part of business strategies of enterprises. With startups showing the way in the cloud business, the world of technology seems of have changed.
RG: With Oracle launching the self-driving cloud database, which patches itself by tracking security anomalies, it changes the way people approach technology. We are talking about engineers building services on top of machine learning and AI. Startups are going to benefit because they are cloud-first businesses. When you are building a product, you need to look at the scale and you must look at a solution, globally. It brings revenues and also references from customers. While companies start small and go on to prove themselves, they also need the support of large companies to go to the next level and that’s where Oracle comes in.
YS: The programme has seen 40 startups gain from Oracle’s guidance, what do you think is your biggest success?
RB: The ability to connect to our customer base for these startups is on top of the list. Oracle has 430,000 customers and they are preparing or are already prepared for the digital era. Our startups have built digital services for corporate entities. If you look at the Indian companies that participated in the Oracle OpenWorld event, they have solved problems such as creating digital document platforms for paperless document verification and how brands can go digital to garner customer loyalty. Globally, startups are using AI and ML to change business models. The old model of paying licence fees is being challenged by the pay-as-you-go model. Nevertheless, in the next decade, cloud adoption will be faster as many large corporations will start using cloud, instead of on-premise solutions.
YS: You don’t recommend the startup life to anyone. Why?
RB: If you are building a startup, you need a certain tenacity and belief. It will take your time away from a lot of things. You cannot start up if you are running from something, you start up because you can solve something well. Unfortunately, I see more of the former and it is difficult to see people struggling at the mid-stages of their lives. To be an entrepreneur, you require the support of family and friends. It is not possible to do it alone. You need to trust a team that helps you build credibility, with the products you launch in the market.
YS: So, are you saying only mature startups come to your accelerator?
RB: Yes, that has been the motive of the accelerator, to help startups that have commercial traction. We do help them with our suite of products, or they can do it on their own, but we will give them the platform to build things with our guidance. If you look at our accelerator we do not have a thematic approach, we have kept it open because we want to draw from a larger pool of ideas. Our startups could also connect with each other globally and work together too. From an Indian standpoint, the startup ecosystem is only going to grow. We are seeing an increase in the number of applications to the programme. Again, preference is given to those who can reference customers and those who have some revenue. This allows us to shape their businesses and help them in going global.