A Strong Vision and Mission — Startups need to have a clear vision that guides their business decisions and is something that stakeholders can easily understand.
Anexperienced technologist and serial entrepreneur, JT Giri’s passion is building and managing modern infrastructure solutions that help companies innovate faster. His experience with cloud started with Amazon EC2 in beta in 2006 where he worked with cloud-first, early adopters. He has been doing DevOps for more than 10 years, hands-on as a DevOps consultant, network engineer, systems architect, and sysadmin, helping solve complex operations challenges for Silicon Valley-based startups and enterprises.
He started nClouds in 2012 with a singular focus: empowering customers to deliver innovation faster. Now, nClouds is an award-winning AWS Premier Consulting Partner with deep skills, a long list of credentials , and lots of successful, innovative clients.
He founded nOps to productize the cool cloud management IP they initially created at nClouds to help fast-moving, cloud-native DevOps teams that need instant visibility to changes in their cloud environments.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
When I first got into IT, I got a job as a network engineer in a data center. The best part of the job was configuring servers so they could talk to each other; the worst part was cabling and racking servers.
One of my friends told me about Cloud. Amazon had launched a very early version of Cloud. I started learning how to run workloads on Cloud. After a few months, I posted on Craigslist; the post’s title was Cloud Ninja. After that, I started getting Cloud migration gigs, I began migrating companies to the cloud. I was at the right place at the right time when cloud computing became a big thing.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
My “Aha Moment” came when I noticed how quickly cloud spending continues to grow. It’s easy to provision resources on the cloud, but it can be incredibly difficult to optimize resources. All of the time engineers spend on learning AWS pricing plans is time away from building and developing features to delivering value to the end customers. I wanted to build a product to reduce cloud costs on autopilot so companies can focus on innovation.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
My inspiration for starting my business journey began with my first job in IT, where I worked as a network engineer in a data center. While I enjoyed the challenge of configuring servers and routers and working with Linux systems, I hated all the cabling and racking of servers that came with it. When AWS launched its cloud offering, I suddenly had the opportunity to work with resources without having to worry about hardware, allowing me to focus on what I’m good at. Without this shift in technology, I may have never been able to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams. This story is a testament to the power of innovation and how it can create opportunities for new businesses.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company stands out from the competition because of our focus on innovation. We are dedicated to developing groundbreaking technologies and experience to optimize our customers’ AWS spending. We measure our success by the amount of money we are able to save our customers. Instead of operating like a “cloud tax” where vendors get paid regardless of the results we strive to create products that consistently provide value to our customers. By focusing on innovation and cost-efficiency, we can help our customers achieve success even in the most competitive markets.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Our success allowed us to create jobs and new opportunities. I strive to give people a chance to pursue their dreams and shape their own futures. In addition, by creating tools and technologies that help automate mundane tasks, I’ve been able to free engineers to focus their efforts on more important, innovative tasks. I believe in empowering people with the tools they need to make an impact in the world.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I can share four character traits that I believe have been most instrumental to my success: curiosity, willingness to take on uncomfortable tasks, investing in personal health, and surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me. My curiosity has helped me develop new ideas and think outside the box when it came to solving problems. I have also pushed myself out of my comfort zone by taking on difficult tasks that I was initially scared of. Additionally, I have invested in personal health with regular meditation and exercise, which enables me to stay focused and productive. Finally, I have surrounded myself with people who are more experienced and skilled than me, and who can help guide and mentor me.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
The advice I received often that I misunderstood is to delegate all of my tasks as CEO. On the surface, it sounded like a great idea, but I soon realized that it’s important for CEOs to stay hands-on and connected to all of the teams. You can only effectively connect the dots and make decisions when you stay involved in every aspect of the business. In startups, it’s better to delegate tasks that are not essential or core to the business than to completely hands-off your responsibilities.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I first started my journey, I faced many challenges. The most difficult obstacle was finding the right resources and support to help me move forward. I had no experience, mentors, or advisors to turn to, so I had to learn everything on my own and make informed decisions based on the limited information available to me. Not only that, but I also had to figure out how to balance my day-to-day responsibilities with the demands of starting a new business. Through persistence and dedication, I eventually overcome these obstacles and was able to launch my company and begin my journey as an entrepreneur.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard? What strategies or techniques did you use to help overcome those challenges?
The drive to continue despite hard times came from my belief that showing up every day is key to success. No matter what happened yesterday, or what will happen tomorrow, we can only focus our energy on the present moment. I used this mindset as a strategy to keep myself motivated and focused on the tasks at hand. I also worked hard to create a support system of mentors and advisors who could provide guidance and feedback. Through resilience and resourcefulness, I was eventually able to overcome my obstacles and find success
The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy and is filled with challenges, failures, and setbacks, as well as joys, thrills, and celebrations. To successfully ride the emotional highs and lows, it is important to focus on the present moment. Showing up each day and focusing your energy on the task at hand is key to staying motivated during difficult times. It also helps to create a support system of mentors, advisors, and friends who can provide guidance and advice. Finally, leveraging techniques such as mindfulness and self-care can help you manage your emotions and keep you in control of the situation. By harnessing these strategies, I was able to find success despite all the ups and downs.
Let’s imagine that a young founder comes to you and asks for your advice about whether venture capital or bootstrapping is best for them? What would you advise them? Can you kindly share a few things a founder should look at to determine if fundraising or bootstrapping is the right choice?
It really depends on the individual situation and goals of the founder, but there are a few key factors to consider when deciding between venture capital or bootstrapping.
First, the founder should think about their timeline and how quickly they need to grow their business. Bootstrapping offers more flexibility but often takes longer. Venture capital can help speed up growth but usually comes with increased pressure in terms of expectations and timelines.
Second, the founder should consider what resources they can access. A startup may need more than just capital to succeed, and a venture capital firm may be able to provide access to valuable networks, mentors, and other resources.
Third, the founder should evaluate the potential returns from different sources of capital.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many startups are not successful, and some are very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful startups from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
Successful startups typically have the following five factors in common:
1. A Strong Vision and Mission — Startups need to have a clear vision that guides their business decisions and is something that stakeholders can easily understand.
2. Leadership: You need strong, passionate, and experienced leaders in order to make sure that your startup succeeds. A successful leader is one who knows how to motivate their team, can make tough decisions, and take risks when needed. Elon Musk is a great example, as he has been able to motivate his team, take big risks and stick to his long-term vision.
3. A Solid Business Model. At the end of the day, businesses must be able to generate value in the market to stay competitive. And as Peter Thiel puts it, you need to be able to capture some of the value you create. That’s the only way to build a sustainable business.
4. Passion and Enthusiasm — A successful startup needs to have passionate and enthusiastic founders and employees who believe in and dedicate themselves to achieving the company’s goals.
5. Focus and Execution — Startups need to be able to focus on the tasks at hand and execute them quickly and efficiently in order.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
One of the most common mistakes that CEOs and founders make when starting a business is not getting started early enough. Too often, entrepreneurs become overwhelmed with all the details of starting a business and thus spend too much time “planning” and not enough time “doing”. This can lead to missed opportunities, or even worse, failure to launch. To avoid this mistake, it is important for entrepreneurs to take action quickly and be prepared to pivot their strategy if necessary. Finally, it is important to surround yourself with experienced individuals who can provide advice and guidance along the way. When I started I used to go to meetups to meet people who were a lot more experienced than me.
Startup founders often work extremely long hours and it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to founders about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting a company?
Building a company is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s important to take care of yourself. Working out and meditating can be great ways to take a break and recharge, and often it is during these times when some of your best ideas come to light. Additionally, it is important to make sure to develop strong relationships with your team and colleagues in order to have a supportive network that you can rely on.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could start a movement that would bring the most good to the most people, it would be focused on developing sustainable and impactful solutions to the global garbage problem. I believe that in the next ten years, AI and robots will improve recycling and waste management processes. Therefore, I would strive to encourage startups to innovate and create environmentally-friendly solutions to fundamentally change how we recycle. By investing in these technologies, we can make the world cleaner, safer, and healthier for everyone.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
If I could have a private breakfast or lunch with anyone in the world, it would undoubtedly be Elon Musk. His impact on this world is absolutely amazing, and I believe that spending some time with him would be an incredible opportunity to hear his unique perspective and gain insight into his thought process.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health!