Cloud spend management: what to look for in 2021 to keep the costs at bay

Nebula CTO Andre Witte

If anything, 2020 has been the year in which offline businesses were forced to accelerate or completely redesign their online strategy. When companies go digital, they turn to the cloud. But tracking cloud expenditures and keeping costs at bay can be tricky. Nebula’s CTO Andre Witte knows all about it and walks us through the current and upcoming developments.

Cloud expenditure in Europe

Nebula is a cloud-focused company with a range of SaaS-products designed to help companies accelerate their digital transformation, aiding app modernisation and empowering IT teams to have better control over their technology environment spend, says Nebula CTO Andre Witte. “Cost is the first thing you want control over.” Nebula offers several tools to monitor cloud expenses and thus prevent ‘bill shock’ from unexpected peak usage. 

Witte recently moved to Amsterdam to oversee the South African company’s expansion to Europe. The companies’ experience in the southern hemisphere should work in its advantage when rolling out in Europe, says Witte. “We have experience with mobile data being very expensive in South Africa. So you encounter situations where you have unexpected bursts of usage. This is how you and you end up with a shocking bill. One which you only know about two or three days later, when it’s too late to do anything about it.”

“Add to that the complexity that comes with the different currencies”, continues Witte. “Changing everything from dollars to rand is tricky. Here in the European market, we see the same happening to the cloud.”

‘The risk of bill shock’

Because accurately managing the cloud is not a simple exercise, knows Witte. “We notice European companies run into similar situations we recognise from South Africa, where bill shock is a real risk. The way we work with mobile data back home translates very well to the cloud here. That is something European companies can take advantage of straight away.”

For Nebula, 2020 is an interesting time to expand overseas. Witte: “We noticed a shift in budget funds moving from cloud infrastructure migrations to app modernisation and more digital projects which were leveraging the cloud. This introduces a lot of complexity in cost management as, in general, PaaS cost and consumption forecasting and tracking are a lot more complex than infrastructure.” 

COVID and the rush to the cloud

The way COVID-19 shut down society has been a big gamechanger. Witte saw the usage of cloud components with Nebula’s clients increase tenfold. With offline businesses now moving online, many are facing the choice whether they buy their own servers, or move to host their apps in the cloud. The latter being the preferred option for many. 

It does offer the challenge of keeping track of the expenses of cloud usage. Witte: “Providers are giving you more visibility in cloud costs, the billing is more transparent. But the products themselves are now more complex. Seeing 100,000 lines of data, you have to know what to look for.”

To get an accurate prediction on the costs of cloud usage, Witte says you have to be a cloud solution architect. “You need to have a degree on just that one thing. Turning on one feature can have a massive impact. CFOs are looking at the bills, while architects know more about the infrastructure and where the costs come from.”

Cloud usage and expenditure trends

To get up European enterprises up to speed with cloud usage and expenditure trends, Witte hosts a webinar courtesy of Nebula. one of the major trends he’ll discuss is training. “Understanding how cloud resources are deployed and used; knowing how they work. It allows you to design or use the different components to be more effective. That trend is going back to retraining your team.” 

Another vital trend Witte spots are the opportunity for many companies to move to smaller Cloud Service Providers (CSPs). “Microsoft announced it would offer perpetual licenses for its cloud services. That’s a big announcement.” Primarily, explains Witte, because these flexible ‘licensing’ programs are based on monthly subscriptions.

“Typically you’d buy licenses for Microsoft software yearly and from larger Resellers, not from smaller CSPs. With these perpetual licenses, clients can pay monthly and change or adjust it monthly. So CSPs that are typically overlooked by enterprises, will now come into focus. It’s a big gamechanger.”

Webinar: ‘Essentials of cloud spend management in 2021’

For new and experienced users of the enterprise cloud, Andre Witte will host the webinar on ‘the essentials of cloud spend management in 2021’. Together with Nebula’s Client Success Executive Fred Taljaard he’ll talk in-depth and offer more insights on cloud expenditure and usage. The webinar takes place on December 10th, 4:30 PM (CET). Click here for more information and to register.

Image credit: Andre Witte/Nebula

Startups – Silicon Canals

[Signals Analytics in Nasdaq] What Data Analytics Will Look Like in 2021 – And How to Capitalize On It

2020 has been a tumultuous year for many companies, but one area that has seen consistent and significant growth despite economic uncertainty and market volatility has been data analytics. Without the right tools or materials, a builder can’t properly construct a house, and without the right data and market insights, a company cannot make the best decisions. Consumers’ rapidly shifting needs are pushing companies across all sectors to need to pivot their strategies constantly in order to stay relevant and drive revenues – and the best way to do this is through data and analytics.

Read more here.

The post [Signals Analytics in Nasdaq] What Data Analytics Will Look Like in 2021 – And How to Capitalize On It appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Success in the SaaS industry of 2020: how to look, feel and act like a SaaS rockstar

SaaS

The SaaS industry is an exciting, growing industry with many opportunities. But on a personal level, work in 2020 can be a struggle. With COVID disrupting work life, being a rockstar in the SaaS world is extra challenging. Paul French of Intrinsic Search shares his advice on how to keep rocking in the SaaS industry well into 2021. 

‘Big hair, lots of leather’?

The term ‘rockstar’ is used to describe top performers in the SaaS sector, explains Paul French. He is managing director of Intrinsic Executive Search, specialised in finding the best C-level Executives for SaaS companies all over Europe. Despite the term ‘rockstar’ being used in a professional setting, for French, it invokes images of 80’s bands with big hair, power stances and leather. A welcome change of pace compared to being stuck at home.

“Don’t know about you, but continual zoom meetings make my eyes go square.”

French says it is easy to lose the rockstar feeling when you’re at home all the time: “But whatever effect 2020 has had on us individually or professionally, we still need to be on our A-game.” With pretty much all personal and face-to-face engagement in the SaaS world being digital, he offers some advice to keep on rockin’.

Being a SaaS rockstar: it’s about the looks

As a C-level SaaS executive, you might feel the need to show up in suit and tie. French is eager to dispel the notion that this is the norm. “The dress code for SaaS has become far more casual over the years, and I’m good with that.” However, working from home, connecting through video does involve the risk of becoming complacent. 

I always remember the advice given to me by a mentor 24 years ago. Well before broadband and video calls, she advised me that when working from home, you should look and dress the same as when in the office.”

It’s all about the state of mind, explains French: “Making sure that we have done all that we can to look professionally engaged means that we sound and feel professionally engaged. It is even more critical when we can be dragged into a Zoom call at any time.” 

SaaS rockstars are always on time for their meetings, look the part, are engaging and make good use of modern sales, marketing and collaboration tools. French: “Each day needs to start with a disciplined approach, and this is far more important than the specifics of what you wear. At Intrinsic Search, we wear polo shirts with our logo, and this seems to be the norm and totally acceptable.” 

Job interviews in 2020

A different type of meeting is the job interview, though. French sees that the market has been turbulent but generally hiring has continued. This being 2020, it is very likely such an important meeting will also be conducted online, through video. If there ever is an occasion for more formal dress, now is the time, says French. 

Another aspect to think about is the environment where you present yourself. French: “Think about an appropriate background view. We’ve seen politicians and public figures show off their literary intellect with their book library behind them. That’s fine. For me, my things are sailing, snowboarding, and fitness so my backdrop authentically and professionally plays to that. For you, that might be personal as well, whether it’s the business books that have inspired you over the years or awards you have won.”

Read also: Hiring SaaS sales executives in the ‘new normal’: these are the do’s and don’ts

“As we are physically distant in a digital environment, think about how you want to present yourself authentically and how you would like to be perceived. Of course, when we are caught short or do not have a great background, Zoom and Teams provide some great digital backdrops. Just leave the bunny ears out.”

Elevator pitch important as ever

French adds an online job-interview is not just about what you wear or how you do your hair. That’s only the veneer. “Practice your personal one-minute elevator pitch that offers the interviewer a brief but concise overview of who you are, what you do, your aspirations and what they get if they hire you. Don’t make it drag on for ten minutes, running the risk you lose the interviewer. Less is more.”

Don’t be afraid to take some homework into the interview either. “How powerful to have a slide showing your principal achievements in the last five years? Or a list of logos of new business wins? If you are a V or C-level executive, how about major initiatives you have led, revenue growth numbers or fund-raising rounds for instance?” Keep it simple, says French: “Have a crib sheet and CV in front of you. So you don’t hesitate on critical dates or data. We are only human.”

Don’t zoom out during meetings

According to French, a lot of the same applies if you are selling to prospects, presenting to partners and meeting colleagues. “It’s far too easy for people that are zoomed-out in 2021 to start losing attention. We need to remain on point in front of all that we work with, influence or lead in the digital world. In fact, from an influencing or leadership perspective, a digital-only approach means that it is more important than ever to be sharp and present well.”

Monitor your presence online

Keep in mind that your online presence is not limited to those video calls. French considers business social media and specifically Linked in as the key to enhancing your rockstar status in the world of SaaS: “Authenticity remains, in my opinion, the single most critical consideration. An up-to-date picture is important, as is an overview that hits the mark. Find a balance between selling yourself well, but also demonstrating humility and modesty.”

Read also: this is the country to earn a top salary in SaaS

Using social media professionally does come with some caveats. “The question remains as to whether or not you set your LinkedIn profile to ‘open to work’”, says French. “My take is that if you are in a job, but looking for a new role, then it is inadvisable. It is a different story if you are redundant or not working. If you set your ‘open to work’ publicly and you have short tenure in your current role, this may give the impression that there is a problem in your current job. It can be further exacerbated if there is a trend of short tenure and so does not define rockstar potential.”

Keep the personal personal

Besides LinkedIn, keep the other social media you’re using in mind, warns French. The wrong personal information could eat away at your carefully constructed rockstar image. “It’s amazing how many quite senior people have a lot of content that is only a few clicks away. This single aspect has caused challenges for many people in all industries. It even has had the effect of enhancing or destroying rockstar status for some.”

Be a rockstar? Feel like one!

However, French states that the best way to be a rockstar is to feel like one. To be clear, he doesn’t need you to grow out your hair and throw on some leather pants. “Everyone is different, but for me, I feel great about myself by being physically fit. So I start every day with a 45-minute fitness session. It becomes a habit and part of my working day.”

“My take is the fitter you are, the better you work. The better you work, the more successful you become. Pour in good stuff at the top of the funnel, and the good prevails. This includes rockstar status, eventually!”

Image credit: depositphotos

Startups – Silicon Canals

6 Tips On Where And When To Look For Startup Funding

gold-money-dollar-currencyOne of the biggest myths I have found in the entrepreneur community is that every startup needs one or more outside investors for credibility and success, and perhaps is even entitled to at least one. They don’t realize that according to statistics from Startup.co, almost 60 percent are funded with personal savings and credit, and another 25 percent get their money from friends and family.

That leaves only about fifteen percent that actually get their funding from investors, through crowdfunding, banks, angels, and venture capitalists. Of course, if you want to be in that number, or you want that number to go up, you have to know how to locate potential investors who fit your profile, requirements, and expectations.

I saw a good summary of the most effective ways to source prospective investors in a classic book, “The Art of Startup Fundraising,” by Alejandro Cremades, who has been there and done that, both as an entrepreneur and an investor. The first step is to set your criteria, including a match for your sector type and stage, and then proactively seek out and contact the best candidates:

  1. Review profiles on professional social media sites. Searching LinkedIn, for example, is a must for contemporary entrepreneurs. It clearly identifies potential investors who meet your profile, and provides contact information. But don’t wait for them to contact you. Draw up a list of the best prospects, and put together your best story for follow-up.
  1. Identify customer executives who need your solution. Many savvy entrepreneurs are able to convince high-potential customers that investing early in a high-value solution, perhaps through an advance on royalties, is in their best interest. Customers benefit from early solution access, priority input on requirements, and personalized customer service.
  1. Reach out to your biggest fans for investor leads. Strong believers in your solution can be your best salesforce to find investors, and some of them may be open to investing as well. Any one of them might find an interested rich uncle, or give you a warm introduction to that professional investor that you have been trying to attract.
  1. Ask your business advisors for warm introductions. There is a good chance that business advisors and mentors also have access to investment capital, or know someone who does. In my experience, an introduction to an investor from a mutual friend or business associate will double or triple your odds of closing a deal.
  1. Talk to thought leaders at relevant industry events. Getting to know leaders at these events will get you visibility and credibility, as well as valuable feedback on your strategy and solution. Industry leaders are a prime source of leads to companies and individuals that may invest. In addition, it’s always better to be friends before you are a competitor.
  1. Review current crowdsourcing sites for a good fit. By using a service such as Onevest, you can also place your startup in the right shop window and let investors come to you. Crowdsourcing is rapidly becoming the key source for finding investors outside the mainstream. It works best for solutions that have social value and mass appeal.

While exploring all these alternatives, don’t forget that the right investor in a majority of cases may be you, through bootstrapping and personal credit. The advantages are many, including avoiding all the cost, pain, and distractions of finding and managing external investors, allowing you to retain full control and all your hard-earned equity for yourself.

The right investor also changes as you move through the different startup stages. Friends and family are key at the idea and early development stages, when you have minimal business valuation. Angel investors typically provide early-stage rollout funding, while venture capital firms won’t be interested until you have real traction and revenue during scaling.

Looking in the right place for the wrong investor won’t help you. But operating in stealth mode, or waiting for that perfect investor to find you, or feeling entitled, is even less effective. The most successful entrepreneurs know where to look and when to look for funding, and the rules are always changing. Maybe it’s time to rethink your startup funding strategy.

Marty Zwilling
Startup Professionals Musings

Inside Affirm’s IPO filing: a look at its economics, profits and revenue concentration

Last night Affirm filed to go public, herding yet another unicorn into the end-of-year IPO corral. The consumer installment lending service joins DoorDash and Airbnb in filing recently, as a number of highly-valued, venture-backed private companies look to float while the public markets are more interested in growth than profits.

TechCrunch took an initial dive into Affirm’s numbers yesterday, so if you need a broad overview, please head here.

This morning we’re going deeper into the company’s economics, profitability and the impact of COVID-19 on its business. The last element of our investigation involves Peloton and the historical examples of Twilio and Fastly, so it should be fun.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Affirm is a company that TechCrunch has long tracked. I was assigned an interview with founder Max Levchin at Disrupt 2014, giving me a reason to pay extra attention to the company over the last six years. This S-1 has been a long time coming.

But is Affirm another pandemic-fueled company going public on the back of a COVID-19 bump, or are its business prospects more durable?

Let’s get into the numbers.

Economics

First, let’s discuss Affirm’s core economics. I want to know three things:

  • What does Affirm’s loss rate on consumer loans look like?
  • Are its gross margins improving?
  • What does the unicorn have to say about contribution profit from its loans business?

These are related questions, as we’ll see.

Starting with loss rates, Affirm thinks it is getting smarter over time, writing in its S-1 that its “expertise in sourcing, aggregating, protecting, and analyzing data” provides it with a “core competitive advantage.” Or, more simply, Affirm writes that it has “data advantages that compound over time.”

So we should see improving loss rates, yeah? And we do. The company has a very pretty chart up top in its IPO filing that makes its model’s improvement appear staggeringly good over time:

But, things aren’t improving as fast inside its results, as Affirm later explains when discussing its aggregate, as opposed to cohort-delineated, results.

Here’s Affirm discussing its provision for credit losses in its most recent quarter (calendar Q3 2020) and the period’s year-ago analog (calendar Q3 2019):

As we can see, the percentage of total revenue that Affirm has to provision for expected credit losses is going down over time. That’s what you’d hope to see.

To better explain what’s going on, let’s explore what Affirm means by “provision for credit losses.” Affirm defines the metric as “the amount of expense required to maintain the allowance of credit losses on our balance sheet which represents management’s estimate of future losses,” which is “determined by the change in estimates for future losses and the net charge offs incurred in the period.”

And it got quite a lot better in the last year, which the company says was “driven by lower credit losses and improved credit quality of the portfolio.” So, Affirm is getting better at lending as time goes along. What does that mean for its gross margins?

Well, Affirm doesn’t provide direct gross margin results. So we’re left to do the work ourselves. For reference, this is the income statement we’re working off of:

Fun, right? Annoying, but fun.

How should we calculate the company’s gross margins? We can’t drill down on a per-product basis given that costs aren’t apportioned in a manner that would allow us to, so we’ll have to take Affirm’s revenue as a bloc, and its costs as a bloc as well.

Startups – TechCrunch

What do investors look for? 5 tips from seasoned European investors

Most startup founders face the challenge of fundraising at some point in their business’s lifetime. For some of them, it happens naturally and easily through a well-built network, event participation, a pitch competition, or memorable press coverage. For others, attracting investment is a more challenging endeavor, which might take many months to secure.  There certainly…

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The post What do investors look for? 5 tips from seasoned European investors first appeared on EU-Startups.

EU-Startups

What does your typical day look like?

Just curious about startup/founding life so what does your typical day look like. Currently I'm only working on a MVP so my day typically looks like:

6:30-7am: Wake up/chat with SO

7-9am: Work on side hustle

9-5pm: Go to work

5-6pm: work on side hustle

6-12am: Spend time with SO

submitted by /u/lostinspacesendnudez
[link] [comments]
Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

6 clever tips on how to look for a job without your boss finding out

Job

First of all, good for you starting the hunt for a new and exciting job

We know looking for roles can be stressful, especially when you are trying to do it in secret, so your boss doesn’t find out. While it’s not illegal or against any company policy to move on – it doesn’t look great if you get caught. Your boss will be aware that you are not entirely happy in your job, and it could lead to a trying time in your place of work. Thankfully, there are things you can do when looking for a job that could prevent your boss from finding out…

Don’t discuss it with your colleagues

Even if it’s someone in work that you really trust! When you’re looking for a new job, it’s always best to keep it close to the vest. Don’t let anyone within your office know that you are looking or interviewing. These secrets have a habit of not staying secret for too long, and it could be risky! 

Arrange interviews around your workday

This is as important now as it was when we were all in the office, you need to be smart about your interview times. Make sure you schedule these interviews around your working hours, think early morning, lunchtimes, and in the evenings. Most hiring managers will be accommodating when it comes to time management! 

Keep your LinkedIn private

Listen, this is actually pretty important. Social media, and the Internet in general, is a wild place where things can spread like wildfire. If you’re making changes and updating your page, make sure the “Notify Your Network” setting is turned off. Also, be sure to turn on “Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities” in your privacy settings, this means recruiters will see you, but others won’t. 

Be smart with your references 

Okay this sort of goes without saying guys, but don’t list your current boss as a reference, for obvious reasons. Use former bosses or colleagues instead!

Think about where you apply

The tech industry can sometimes be very small, so you need to be mindful of where you apply. Your boss may have close friends in other companies, so word could spread. Do your research, and if you know of any close connections, tread carefully!  

Use your own tech

If you are looking for a new job, do so using your own tech. Don’t use your work computer or work phone, just in case your company tracks your search history or call history. Likewise, if you get to the interview process, use your own devices to engage here. If you don’t have your own laptop or phone, ask a friend or family member if you can use theirs. Better safe than sorry! 

By Rebecca O’Keeffe, Content Creator, Jobbio.

Take note of the above, and you & you’ll get your dream role in no time! Oh, and be sure to keep an eye on Silicon Canals’ Jobs, for loads of exciting opportunities.

Image credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

Startups – Silicon Canals