Startups face many challenges as they get their business off the ground, gain market traction and grow in a sustainable way. But the opportunities for success are clearly out there, with startups raising more venture capital funding than ever before in 2021.
It takes more than a good business idea to create a successful business. According to the British Business Bank, the biggest challenges for startups include lack of demand, ineffective marketing, a gap in skills, securing funding, financial management, hiring the right people and time management.
By joining a business ecosystem — like the OVHcloud Startup Program — startups can access a network of people and organisations that can provide the support, expertise and advice to give your business the best possible chance of success.
Since its creation in 2015, the OVHcloud Startup Program has helped more than 2,000 companies, by increasing their visibility to investors and giving them access to other organisations — as well as providing access to technology that could add value.
OVHcloud recently spoke to four people involved in the Startup Program to find out why being part of an ecosystem can be so invaluable.
The connector’s view
Sydney-based French expat Leo Denes is the founder of Australiance and co-founder of Startup&Angels, which between them help startups enter the Australian market, recruit talent, grow their business and meet rights partners/investors.
Speaking about the role connectors play in startup ecosystems, Denes says: “It’s quite magical, because you can really create value for a startup founder by just doing an introduction. The right introduction can lead to solving a huge challenge or create massive opportunities.”
Areas in which connectors can help include business development, capital raising, finding the right talent, and developing partnerships to encourage business growth. They can also share knowledge to help founders make the right decisions for their business.
With their knowledge of the Australian market, Denes and his team help tech companies from Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, and the US to understand the market, develop a go-to-market strategy, set up Australian entities, and secure their first clients. Startup&Angels also helps startups increase their brand awareness through events, podcasts and social media.
Ecosystems as a game changer
For Alex Hernandez, a French entrepreneur now based in Madrid, the opportunities provided by a business ecosystem like that offered by OVHcloud are the reason his business exists.
“For me the power of ecosystem had been game changing in my life and I wouldn’t be here today without it,” says Hernandez.
As co-founder and sales director of alternative recruitment company, JobGether, Hernandez launched the business in July 2020 after finding a business partner via membership of the French Founders business network.
“The power of ecosystem was the start of my entrepreneurial journey,” says Hernandez, who subsequently joined the OVHcloud ecosystem. Through this, he met companies that became clients and partners.
“When you start a startup for the first time, you have no clue of what’s going to happen. By joining an ecosystem you can learn a lot, try to avoid mistakes others have made, share experiences, grow your network very quickly, and find clients,” Hernandez says.
For Bordeaux-based Rita Nazarian, partnership manager at digital invoice collection provider iPaidThat, the OVHcloud ecosystem provided a quicker and easier way to increase the company’s visibility and valuation.
“It’s less time consuming, I can find the appropriate partners and I can easily check who is interested in our technology,” says Nazarian.
JobGether’s Alex Hernandez agreed that time saving is a major benefit of ecosystem membership: “When you set up a startup you wish there were 50 hours in a day because you have so many things to do. Building a network on your own will take a lot of time – by joining an ecosystem you will save a lot of this precious time.”
Startups can be directly linked to the people and organisations they need, rather than hoping to find the right person or organisation by trawling through online networks like LinkedIn.
For UK-based Yigit Erol, founder and CEO of Fidsy, which provides AI-powered conversational BI, the connections he was able to make through the OVHcloud ecosystem was a major factor in his business surviving during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a founder you take a leap into the unknown and it’s a long journey with hurdles along the way,” he says.
Starting the company in November 2019, Erol had four investors agreed in principle. However during the first few months of lockdown, all of the investors pulled out, leaving Erol searching for new ways to fund the business.
Once he joined the OVHcloud ecosystem community, he instantly felt supported. “It was almost like holding hands together through this difficult journey,” he says.
Erol was introduced to the community, took part in a few panels and received advice on how he could keep his business afloat. In the end, he didn’t have to give away any equity in his business and now has a product and customers to sell to, with no need to report to investors.
The ecosystem that OVHcloud has created with its Startup Program is crucial to the businesses that are members. And ultimately, it’s the connections that the ecosystem enables that offer the most powerful reason for companies to become involved.