VentureBeat | August 8, 2013

5 Davids beating Goliath in the cloud arena

5 Davids beating Goliath in the cloud arena

In the startup world, you’re always trying to disrupt the status quo, to challenge the biggest players in the game. But ask any founder and they’ll probably tell you how hard it is to go up against businesses that are already generating more than a $1 billion a year in revenue.

In the quickly growing cloud-based services sector, the story is no different. But in this case, the disruption might be coming a little harder and faster — and your chances of winning customers is a tad better.

Cloud-enabled successes like Workday in the enterprise and Netflix in the consumer space show that you can offer a smarter service via the web and win huge market share and tremendous rewards.

At our upcoming CloudBeat 2013 conference on Sept. 9 and 10 in San Francisco, we’ll be exploring how the cloud has “grown up” and why companies big and small have adopted often-smaller cloud-based services over old-school vendors. We’ll have disruptors like Netflix, Dropbox, and PayPal ready to discuss these challenges and more.

But who are some of the small, less-recognized startups that are making an impact even while facing much larger competition?

Here’s our list of five “Davids” beating “Goliath” in the cloud arena.


2. Apprenda

Funding: $16 million
Investors: Ignition Partners, New Enterprise Associates, High Peaks Venture Partners
Competing with: Pivotal and Red Hat

In the still-emerging world of platform-as-a-service companies, Albany, N.Y.-based Apprenda has staked out the area of on-premise enterprise-heavy PaaS. It offers app development and hosting for .NET and Java apps for developers locked into enterprise workflows.

But it doesn’t exactly have the enterprise PaaS space to itself. It has to contend with two big cloud King Kongs with much higher marketing budgets: Red Hat OpenShift private PaaS and Pivotal, the VMware spin-off. Pivotal calls itself a startup, but its backing from VMware and GE make it a powerful force. (Pivotal CEO Paul Maritz will be at CloudBeat 2013 as well, so we’ll be sure to ask him about the space and his competition.)

Even with this competition, Apprenda CEO and founder Sinclair Schuller (pictured) told us his company has 42 employees and “dozens” of major enterprise customers, including J.P. Morgan, Diebold, Symantec, and Honeywell. Not too long ago, the startup added an office in New York City and is adding more employees to that office.

Schuller has a bit of an edge when it comes to delivering what enterprise app developers need because he previously worked in app development for Morgan Stanley. So he’s focused on making sure enterprise customers have all the tools he never had.

“In the enterprise, the level of scrutiny on startups is much higher than on big companies,” Schuller said. “The chips are stacked against us. … But we can take action and solve problems much faster than a larger company can.”