The Romania-based startup shares tips including finding a niche market, investing in passionate talent and attending the twice-annual OpenStack Summits.

Superuser’s startup playbook series highlights startups in the OpenStack community to discuss tips for fellow newbies in the ecosystem and their perception of the current playing field.

This time, Superuser features answers from Alessandro Pilotti, the CEO of Romania-based Cloudbase Solutions. The startup started off as a cloud provider company, mostly because of its combination of unbeatable engineering talent pool and high-speed Internet access. But after joining the OpenStack ecosystem, the team thought of the possibilities of combining OpenStack with the Microsoft world.

If you are attending OpenStack Days Budapest today, you can meet the Cloudbase Solutions team at its booth to answer any questions you may have.

What challenges have you had to overcome to be successful?

I think the biggest challenge was to find the right people in order to keep up with the high quality output we became known for, as the company grew. Recruiting people who are passionate about this domain, and willing to learn from us, then grow on their own has been a top priority and a huge factor to our growth.

Beside this, we started investing a lot in young talent: we work with the Universities in Timisoara and Iasi (where we have our offices), selecting students from over 100, even 150 applicants, for DevOps trainings provided by our cloud engineers, then offering internships to four to eight students. Some of our best and brightest engineers were selected from those collaborations and you can see them today among the main OpenStack contributors.

Adding to this, we made our presence known in the IT community, by organizing meetups and events or having presentations given at various national or international conferences. We actually just had an OpenStack meetup in Bucharest, where one of our guys gave a talk about our Hyper-Converged OpenStack on Windows Nano Server solution.

What tips would you have for a startup that is new to the OpenStack ecosystem?

The most important thing is to find a niche for your business. The cloud computing domain is largely made up of big companies, so it’s very important to have something unique to say, otherwise it’s easy to disappear. We saw an opportunity in bringing together Windows and OpenStack, something that hasn’t been done before. Thanks to a successful on-going collaboration with Microsoft, we are now the top company to provide these type of products and services.

Second, if you don’t know something, ask. The OpenStack community is incredibly supportive, and with its huge numbers, it’s very easy to connect with someone across the world and pick their brains.

Last but not least, be visible: become a sponsor at the OpenStack Summits and organize meetups (face to face meetings still make the difference).

OpenStack has been called both good and bad for startups. What are the pros and cons?

OpenStack is still growing, and at an incredibly fast pace. This can be both good and bad for startups: good because it means more and more companies are joining in and tons of opportunities become continuously available.

On the other side though, it’s a highly competitive ecosystem where becoming profitable can take time, especially in an industry led by corporations with very large pockets and resources to invest. We planned our development carefully and managed to always be profitable, enjoying every minute of the ride.

Final piece of advice: be creative, invest in passionate talent and most importantly, have fun!

The OpenStack startup series will regularly feature playbooks from global startups. If you’re interested in sharing your company’s story, email us at [email protected]

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