I’m A Startup — Why Am I Being Inundated With Cloud Providers?

Editor’s note: Robert Scoble is Rackspace’s Startup Liaison and a blogger. Follow him on Twitter @scobleizer.

Over the past few weeks, when I’ve visited several startup incubators from Stanford’s Start X, to Los Angeles’ Start Engine, to the NewMe Accelerator, I have noticed many cloud computing companies hoping to get these startups to choose them.

Some of the cloud computing companies are throwing tons of goodies at these startup incubators or accelerators. Rackspace, where I work, sponsors startups at Techstars, Founder’s Den, and other places where startups congregate.


Well, when I worked in retail I noticed something: Lots of people bought Nikon cameras because that was the brand that the pros used. When I eventually got to go to where the pros were, like at the World Series or the Olympics, I noticed that Nikon often handed out free gear.

Today we’re seeing the same thing, except the “pros” that many people and businesses look up to are those startup entrepreneurs.

While we’re seeing a consumerization of IT, we’re also witnessing a startupization of enterprises. We’re seeing enterprises move to using systems that five years ago only startups would try.

The competition to land startups is afoot and the startups can almost name their price.

So, should your startup just go with the company offering you the most goodies? Or are there other factors at play?

Putting myself in your shoes for a moment, here are some things to think about:

1. Is there contract lockin? The contract says you’re giving me $60,000 of free hosting but is there any fine print?

2. How technically acute am I? Do I need a helping hand when it comes to IT? Do I have limited staff and resources and need a company that I can outsource my IT and cloud needs to?

3. What does my future look like with this company? Do they want to lock me into their cloud platform? Or will they give me the tools to port my data from cloud to cloud?

4. OpenStack is a big trend in cloud computing and will continue to be so. Does the company have a foundation in OpenStack, a belief in open source and working with the community to make technology great? And is this important to you?

5. Does the technology stack offered actually solve your business problems, both today and tomorrow? What happens if you turn into the next Pinterest and need help scaling?

6. Outside of their cloud platform what else can the company help me with? Do they have partners? Some of my favorite partner companies helping startups today include:

  • New Relic – an all-in-one web application performance tool that lets you see performance from the end user experience, through servers, and down to the line of application code.
  • ScaleXtreme – a cloud-based server automation product for the modern distributed data center. SystemAdmins gets a single unified automation platform to build and control physical, virtual and public cloud servers.
  • SendGrid – replaces your email infrastructure so you don’t have to build, scale, and maintain these systems in-house.

One advantage of the best incubators, like Techstars or Y Combinator, are the alumni networks. Ask them what they think.

Remember, as a startup, you have cutting edge technology and a business idea that needs to be executed quickly and properly, so don’t settle for a company that doesn’t understand where you are coming from and where you need to go in order to succeed. Choose a partner that once was a startup, that acquires startups, has an entrepreneurial mindset and always picks up the phone when you need help.

Oh, and if you see me at your incubator or startup accelerator know that you can always ask me to do things for you and I’ll jump into action. Can’t keep the pros waiting!

[image via Glengarry Glen Ross]