MadeiraCloud – Amazon Cloud Meets Amazon Tributary
As the author for a tool that supports Amazon Web Services, Daniel O’Prey and his team thought that naming their new company after a major tributary to the Amazon River would be a nice joke. After thinking about it for some time, the actually ended up sticking with it : MadeiraCloud.
MadeiraCloud gives its customers the ability to design, manage, and share their applications by simply sending an email. This includes sharing the server, storage, network and software. Best of all: this can be done in a WYSIWYG manner.
Below, CEO and co-founder Daniel O’Prey shares details with KillerStartups about what’s behind this successful small company.
How long have you been involved with the internet? What were your first steps?
Oooh, tough question. I was the first kid at my school to have the internet, so it must have been a long time ago. Every since we had the internet, I was involved in it. I taught myself Visual Basic, my Dad hooked me up with an FTP server, and I was off. When I was about 13 I wrote a client that downloaded videos and sold it to my friends at school. I’d get in a lot of trouble for that these days.
What time do you usually start work each day?
We get in to the office at about 10, depending on how late we were working the previous night. Being based in Beijing and having most of our calls to San Francisco leads to a lot of late nights and late mornings.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
I’ve usually read most of my important emails on the way to the office, so I reply to the urgent ones and then check the team log on Trello. After that, I try to get some solid work done until lunch.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
All the good generic cloud related domains were gone when we started looking, so I started to think of some alternatives. We provide a tool for Amazon Web Services, so as a bit of a joke I looked up what the biggest tributary for the river Amazon is. The more we said it, the more the team feel in love with the name Madeira, so that’s what we went with!
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
Initially, it was just myself and my cofounder, Peng Zhao, working full time, with two of his friends from his previous company working part time and on Saturdays. We now have another full time employee and another two joining us shortly.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
Things went pretty smoothly, to be honest. Angel funding on the back of the idea, a free office in a University business park and even a no strings attached grant from the Chinese government… Hiring is hard, Beijing is the closest thing China has to Silicon Valley and all the big tech companies hoover up all the grads from the Universities here.
Who or what inspires you? Role models?
I hate working for other people, just can’t do it, so the freedom to work on what I want when I want is the thing that drives me the most. After that, I love making easy to use tools that visualize complex systems into simple diagrams that can be understood quickly. A lot of easy to use software is easy to use because it takes away your control. I hate that. I want to make easy to use software that empowers users, not shackles them.
How’d you fund this venture?
We received initial funding from a US Angel on the back of just the idea. We were fortunate enough that he believed in the team enough to hand over some cash before we’d written a line of code. We are currently talking to several VC firms about the next round, it’s a very stressful time!
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Don’t go crazy hiring. We started with 4 and now we have 5. We’re expanding the team a little now, but we already have our beta out and lots of users so we can afford to be selective with additions moving forward. Oh, and being based in China doesn’t hurt.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
I won’t be successful until I can retire and take care of my family without ever needing to work again.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why:
Other than the boring answer of Google Apps, the whole teams uses Trello, as I mentioned earlier. I use Hootsuite a lot for multiple Twitter accounts, though it can be a time sink Twitter really is a fantastic tool for networking and customer development. Intercom.io is fantastic for keeping in touch with and tracking user activity.
iOS or Android?
What’s the greatest thing about your company?
It’s human. You don’t have huge long lists of resources grouped by type, they are visually displayed as part of applications so you can understand what’s what at a glance and don’t have to spend hours working out exactly how you set something up months ago.
Can you share with us any facts and figures regarding revenue, funding, investments, etc? We’d love to highlight your growth.
We launched our public beta in May and already have over 1,200 users ranging from Fortune 500 companies to really cool startups. Our beta is still just an MVP and we haven’t done any paid marketing, so the response we have had so far has been phenomenal.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?