We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Ryan Nutley”, CEO of the Ireland based start-up “Pushstartr”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Pushstartr is a database management platform that simplifies databases for developers. Databases at the best of times can be a headache. We take the intensive tasks facing developers and DBA’s and make them simple. This saves time and makes databases more accessible. At the moment we are working on two products, a Data API for NoSQL and a SaaS DB management application. We will be releasing sneak peeks at both products over the coming weeks.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Pushstartr was founded over the space of a few months. In June 2014 it officially stopped being a one man operation. We’re still very early stages. We have some prototype stuff completed and we’ve begun growing our team and user base. Our big challenge over the coming months will be raising a seed round and getting our product to market. We have our eyes open for accelerator programmes that can help us achieve this.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our platform (API and UI) is delivered as a SaaS model. Pricing for our API is based on consumption. We’ve found this to the be the most scalable and transparent method of pricing available for a service like this. The SaaS application is licensed based on features. We used a tiered subscription model for this service. We have yet to decide the set prices for each package.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
Most of the team are ex Trinity College Dublin engineers. The skills needed were specific and it took about a month before the right people were found. There are four of us now. I am hands on in all areas of the business, from design to marketing and sales. Cian and Robert are our resident hackers. They are working on everything tech, ranging from API architecture to pen testing. Shane is our growth hacker, helping us improve our user base and strategy to market.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Our goal is to make Pushstartr as open source as possible, this separates us from several competitors. Another big differentiator for us is that our technology works with several different databases. That’s a pretty big deal, particularly for developers who just want to get their projects up and running. We’re also putting a visual overhaul on the entire database administration experience. If you’ve ever seen DBA tools, you’ll realise the excitement of that part alone.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
Over the last month we received close to 100 sign ups, captured attention internationally and gained decent social media following. We’ve also built out our first prototype which allows developers to dynamically capture and store any sensor data from an Android phone remotely. So far we’re doing pretty well.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
We won’t be naming any major competitors publicly until we have a product taken to market. Our initial competitive advantage is definitely in UX. From that side of things we’d be competing with the likes of phpMyAdmin, Redsmin and Robomongo.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
We’re quite a young company still, so there haven’t really been many obstacles standing in our way yet. I can see some obstacles facing us in the near future. Those challenges are around funding, growth and customer acquisition. I’m really looking forward to challenging them as they come and I’m pretty confident we’re lining ourselves up well for performing well when they arise.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
The key thing about our business is that we make it easier to manage data. For non-developers, I try to communicate this by suggesting the idea of managing thousands of different Excel spreadsheets. We help you store them in a way that makes sense, while still making it easy to find and make sense of the data held in each one. That’s probably the best way for non-technical people to understand what we do.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We have a young team, I think that’s our biggest competitive advantage. We’re approaching databases with a fresh perspective. In other words, we haven’t been warped by twenty plus years of industry experience. We can definitely compete on a technical level, but the big difference is the rules of data haven’t been engrained. That’s the beauty of our business, it’s as much the people as it is the product.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
I’m fascinated by the database as a service model, that’s something I want to explore at some stage. A great company called Orchestrate are doing a phenomenal job there at the moment, and they have an incredible team behind them. If we succeed, I think it would be very interesting to do some projects together and see what comes of it.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
It was a combination of factors. I’ve been a full-stack developer for a while and something that’s always bothered me was databases. They all have different tools, and none of the tools offered the control I wanted. The second was university. I studied computer engineering and focused my final year on database technology. There were some interesting research projects I came across that have helped shaped Pushstartr.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I could write a thesis on the last two months alone. The two big things that stand to mind are that things never move as quick as you intend and only a fraction of your time will get spent working on the things you love.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
In six months we will have an Alpha product. The biggest challenge awaiting us is getting users to use Pushstartr with their projects. That’s not an easy thing to do. We’re looking at all the possible channels that could help us grow this early customer base. It will be interesting, exciting and somewhat scary, but I’m confident we’re going to get passed it and move on to the next one.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
We’re leading with time saving. That’s the biggest way any of our customers can benefit, whether you’re an experienced developer or college fresher working on a small project.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Social media has played a large role in our acquisitions to date. We’ve also noticed that Twitter converts more users than Facebook. Most of our users have found out about us from other users within their industry. It’s a great sign, particularly because their industry is relevant to our market.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our users a techies. That’s perfect, because that’s our target market too. We’re looking to professional developers, database administrators and freelance programmers. They’re a tough group to crack.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
We’re not yet in a position to start targeting end customers. We have a strong inkling that by open sourcing our core technology, we will be in a good position to start building a developer-centric community for our platform. For our premium product, we will be offering live demos, webinars and sample projects for people to get hands on with. This will help us refine our customer acquisition tactics going forward.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Most of the developers we’ve talked to so far think it’s a great idea. Anyone who has come in contact with databases at a non-enterprise level agrees outright that the problem we’re solving is a big one. There’s a mutual understanding though, that the real impact can’t be seen until we have a product in market. So far, it’s mostly positive.
20. How are you going to scale?
We’re giving users the option of paying on a yearly basis. This way we can reduce cash flow problems for the first few months and focus on scaling the business. We’ll also be focusing on building small developer communities in as many places as possible. Scaling will be one of the tougher challenges awaiting us, and working on implementing an effective strategy to tackle it before it becomes a problem.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest and most difficult feature for us to implement is the support to use our product with existing relational databases. We’re looking into how we can do this at the moment and hope to integrate some support into version two of our product.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Your biggest focus at the moment is getting to market. We will of course be looking to internationalist, but the timelines around when this will happen aren’t set in stone yet. One market we are looking closely at moving on is the Asian market. India in particular seems to be a very nice country for setting up operations.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We see Pushstartr as being the go-to tool for database management. We’re aiming for 40% of NoSQL database administrator market. It’s a conservative enough figure, specially given the lack of management tools currently available. We have an early advantage. We’re focusing primarily on the beginner and startup markets. As these markets grow, our users will bring the tools with them into enterprise level. We will also be targeting some enterprise level businesses from the start.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We will be looking to hire new talent in the near future. The next big step for us is getting our seed round together and getting our product to market. As soon as we are in a position to grow the team, vacancies will be available on our website.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We have a few partnership opportunities lined up for launch to help us generate revenue. We are looking to raise a seed round to help bring us to market. Investors or partners can reach us on any channel really. I’ve found a nice solid point of contact platform is LinkedIn, my profile is ie.linkedin.com/in/ryannutley/ for anyone interested in connecting.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Think chess not checkers in terms of strategy. A well targeted message can open any door you need it to and a gut instinct is good, but make sure it’s an informed one.