Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Aayush, and I am the Founder & CEO of OpsLyft. Our mission is to help enterprise software companies globally to manage their cloud infrastructure cost without compromising the performance and reliability of applications running on it.
As of today, OpsLyft is a couple of years old high-growth startup built out of India and is managing more than 100 million dollars of cloud investments made by businesses every year.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Before starting OpsLyft, I worked as an Infrastructure and DevOps engineer at a US-based startup. It was my first job after undergrad college, and I was fortunate enough to get extreme hands-on experience in building the DevOps function of an organization from scratch, at a scale where we were running close to 100 applications on the cloud, ingesting TBs of data every day, and with the growing number of software engineers operating directly or indirectly with the cloud.
With our product being a data platform in the first place, we were incurring huge costs on the cloud (close to ~ $3 - $5M) every year. Our finance team was struggling to account for the cloud costs given its variable nature, and our engineers were busy building applications for the growth of the company.
If you are a single founder, you have now signed up for a journey that is going to test you at every step.
Being in the DevOps team and a great believer in developer productivity, I tried to solve the problem through different SaaS products available in the market. However, none of them were solving the problem of having the costs reduced and then streamlined without any effort from developers.
That is where I built out my product for the company which resulted in saving us close to a million dollars on the cloud. That is where I learned that this industry-wide problem, specifically by those companies who are in their hyper-growth phase, would need a different approach to solving this mammoth problem, which I believed I had cracked. That was the time when I decided to leave my job and start OpsLyft.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Our approach towards building the product has been pretty organic, I would say. Given I was just a junior engineer with nearly 2 years of work experience with not so much capital backing, I really had started my process of building the product with a potential buyer of the solution who could really pay me to build the product against it.
For the first six/seven months or so, we were not able to get any customers, but we had to survive! Hence we decided to solve this problem on a consulting basis for companies where we had friends working. This phase of constant hustle made us learn about the problem deeply, and one fine day one of the customers offered us a paid contract with upfront money to build the product! That was our entry into the startup ecosystem, truly!
Since then, we have been getting customers organically through referrals from one customer to another.
Of course, during the journey, we had to go through numerous challenges (we still do!) ranging from building the team, learning to sell, setting up the company, etc., but then that’s the part of the process of building a business from scratch if you haven’t done it earlier.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We never really “launched” anything in our business. Meaning, that we were able to build market presence organically. Once we had our first customer signed up, our core focus was to build value for them. Once we did that, the obvious next step was to find more customers, so we did that by asking our first customer.
We landed our first five customers this way, which were enterprise-grade companies, which I have to admit are a really hard audience to sell to. The learning curve was a roller coaster for us. We are always on the verge of delivering the best to our customers as we are customer obsessed company.
One of the most challenging tasks when it comes to selling an enterprise product is dealing with multiple stakeholders. There are different personas that are going to get the benfit of our product like CTO, Director of Engineering, VP of Engineering, DevOps Engineer, etc. and it is very important for us to show the value to each one of them. SMBs and Semi-enterprises have less stakeholders so there is less effort to put in. The more customers we showed value to the more we attracted. In the process of doing so, the word spread out about us naturally. Companies started asking about us, our product, our progress so far, etc.
In the process, we were also able to raise investments from our customers themselves which brought us further validation of the work that we were doing. We have raised $500K of seed funding through different industry leaders and startup makers like Anand Chandrasekaran, and marquee angels from Freshworks, Oyo, Innovaccer.
Other than this, we also started practicing some standard marketing processes like email marketing, LinkedIn marketing. But the most effective among all is the customer reference.
In fact, we did not even have a proper marketing plan until it was time our product was in a sellable state, and we knew we could handle more customers on the product than we currently have. It is until now we are solving to building our online presence, given we know what we bring to the table for all the potential customers who can help in times to come.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
So far, OpsLyft has grown with its customers, i.e. once we onboard a customer we grow with them. In this way, we make it very sure that our customers are getting what they need in terms of meeting their organizational goals. Our solutions directly align with our customers KPIs ensuring their growth.
OpsLyft is a customer-obsessed company; we keep them on the top. Once a customer got satisfied, the word spreads and we get the other one. We know that the chain will come to an end if we would be unable to delight our customers. That’s why we are a highly focused, customer-centric B2B company.
Out of every 100 things that you would do for making your startup successful, probably 95 of them are not going to work, it’s just for those 5 wins you would have to do the work.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are doing good but challenged every day. But I think that’s what growth looks like. Nobody teaches you to solve problems. It’s one’s own journey that everyone has to figure out on their own.
We are going to become a profitable business in the next one or two quarters. All our customers have long-term engagements with us (at least annual). We have a team of 25 people and are expected to grow to 30 very soon. Our revenue growth is experiencing more than a 100% growth rate quarter over quarter.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I have covered the journey of building the business as a single founder so far. Now, if you are a single founder, you have signed up for a journey that is going to test you at every step. The test of surviving the business when you have no resources, the test of dealing with ambiguity when you don’t know what to do next, the test of keeping your people stay put and not getting burnt even when you know we need more input to get desired outputs, and you don’t have enough money to hire more resources, the test of learning every function from scratch, and whatnot.
What I have from this journey is to never lose the grit, the purpose, and the humility towards the people you work with. Coz, at the end of the day, you as a founder are just an enabler for the people who are going to build the company against the vision that asks them to believe in.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am a great believer in the content of the following books:
- No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings
- The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
- Amp It Up by Frank Stoolman
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Nothing in general. In the current world of the internet, the methods and procedures to execute a startup idea are readily available on the internet in abundance. It’s when people execute their entrepreneurial journey, we always should remember that on day one, you will be alone - you will have zero customers, zero money (probably), no product, zero investors, and zero teams!
Out of every 100 things that you would do for making your startup successful, probably 95 of them are not going to work, it’s just for those 5 wins you would have to do the work. But those 5 wins eventually will result in growth, while the other 95 will result in making you more humble and curious - as it’s important to know that you are not the smartest person in the room, often.
Hence, be patient, have giddy optimism, have strong grit, and lastly, NEVER GIVE Up!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes. We have open positions listed on our website and LinkedIn pages.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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