In less than 2 years, Vultr has become a de-facto choice when it comes to affordable Cloud Infrastructure. With its 14 global locations, it seems the company wants to be the Coca-Cola of Cloud. And, why not? It is about time that Cloud becomes the universal standard for web app hosting.
Just this week, Cloudways welcomed Vultr on its platform. We are truly excited about this partnership and we hope we see many great applications out of it. At this remarkable occasion, I sat down with David Aninowsky, Founder and CEO of Vultr, for a little chat about Cloud, his vision for Vultr and of course, Cloudways. I hope you will like this one.
Cloudways: Tell us about you growing up. Where did you live? Where did you attain your education? What were your activities as a child? Any hobbies and interests?
David: I was born and raised in New Jersey, USA. I attended NJIT (New Jersey Institute of Technology) in Newark, New Jersey where I studied computer science but ultimately left to focus on expanding the hosting company I started in high school.
Cloudways: How did you come into the web hosting business? What are some of your ventures prior to Vultr?
David: My first venture was a virtual/shared hosting company in the mid 1990s. My first server was hosted on a T1 (1.54Mbps) uplink. It’s a bit funny looking back that we had to ship our production servers to California to access one of the only datacenters with an OC-3 (155Mbps) backbone to support our growth. We continued to grow with the market and the rest is history.
Cloudways: When and how did you know that Vultr was the business that you wanted to build?
David: We’ve been in the hosting/managed services business for the better part of 20 years. Over time we built out a global infrastructure capable of scaling up and down with various seasonal trends our business units encounter (they all rely on our global infrastructure to varying degrees). It became apparent this robust platform was one that could enable us to launch a global cloud product and we have been continuously expanding since Vultr’s soft launch in early 2014.
Cloudways: Vultr is a bootstrapped company. Did you ever reach out to any venture capital for funding? Do you think early stage VC funding is the best strategy or should companies seek it at a later stage?
David: We are in the fortunate position of having been bootstrapped with little to no leverage for over a decade. We have a very large total addressable market, and plenty of financial capacity to capture this market without raising capital or bringing in outsiders. While we are contacted almost daily by Private Equity firms, it would take a very special partner to make a deal. We’ll see where the future takes us.
Cloudways: What are some key points to bootstrap a successful company?
David: A few things come to mind to bootstrap a company successfully. First (or early) to market always helps, but not every entrepreneur has that luxury. Having a large total addressable market and key differentiating factors are also important. Most importantly, I think you need to have some key efficiencies that give you an operational advantage over the competition. This can be software, supply chain synergies, etc. You also have to be careful to not get ahead of yourself, especially in cloud hosting/infrastructure where Capital Expenditures represent a significant percentage of your financial activity.
Cloudways: How do you define the word “team” at Vultr and how is a great team proportional to greater growth rate? Who are some key people who helped Vultr stand where it is today?
David: Vultr is a team of teams based on areas of specialization. We recently built out a new headquarters with a very open floor plan. While there is floor-to-ceiling glass to provide demarcation and noise-cancelling between groups, everyone can see each other and the group dynamic helps us identify and resolve issues efficiently in a manner that cannot happen when people are closed off in individual offices. Engineers, systems administrators and developers work side by side to improve Vultr each day. I believe everyone at Vultr is a key contributor to our success. Without this team, Vultr would not be the great product it has become.
Cloudways: Vultr is considered as one of the fastest growing cloud hosting companies. What are you doing that is different from what other cloud providers do?
David: We have several key differentiating factors that give us distinct advantages in our market.
- Geographic Diversity: From a single login you can deploy a cloud server in 7 countries and 14 cities around the globe.
- Flexible Platform: We do not tie anyone down to a specific OS image that we force you to run. Users can upload their own ISOs and configure any image on our system they’d like. Developers love this flexibility.
- Performance: We were one of the first providers to offer unrestricted 10Gbps up/down. We also focus on maintaining consistent high CPU and I/O performance utilizing the latest-gen Intel CPUs and enterprise SSDs.
Cloudways: Developers are considered to be the toughest audience to market to. How do you market to developers? Why do they love your product?
David: Before Vultr came to market, we were developing a highly scalable and flexible solution that we could use for our internal development projects. We tried to implement everything we would love to see in a cloud provider and offer it to our customers. I think customers love our product because we listen to all of their comments and react quickly to requests for new features. Our goal is to continue to be the best choice for developers looking for a high performance, reliable cloud service.
Cloudways: Vultr doesn’t have a blog. Why is that? What is the customer acquisition strategy if it’s not content and community?
David: While most of our resources have been dedicated to adding features and making Vultr better and better from a technical standpoint, we have also been working on a new front end which will include a blog. We have a great customer base and as Vultr grows it will only become more important for us to support our great customers with a great community.
Cloudways: There are the 800-pound-gorillas in the cloud infrastructure. What does Vultr have to offer that differentiates and allows it to compete in such a saturated cloud market?
David: Cost, Performance, Features, and Geographic Diversity. We work every day to add new features that developers love!
Cloudways: What do you think about Cloudways? Do you believe that services like Cloudways building up tools on top of your cloud can help scale Vultr at a high rate?
David: Cloudways is a key Vultr early adopter and we are excited to work side by side with Cloudways. Companies like Cloudways building tools on top of the Vultr cloud certainly increases the rate at which we scale because it opens up our cloud to ever larger numbers of subscribers. Many just want to host a blog or a website and they don’t want (or know how) to manage the server behind the scenes. It is great to have Cloudways working with us!
Cloudways: Where do you see Vultr in the next 5 years? What are your future growth plans?
David: Our goal over the next five years is to continue to gain market share in our vertical. To do this will require that we continue to roll out important new features, grow our geographic footprint, and continue to offer a great product that the marketplace needs. We have many great new platform additions to our compute cloud on the way that will really expand Vultr’s offerings. We are looking forward to 2016 and the years to come.
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