Started from an idea drawn on a cocktail napkin in a Las Vegas bar, three-year old Donegal startup CloudRanger now has clients in over 20 countries, including the US, Canada and Australia.
The idea, drawn by company chief executive and founder, David Gildea was for a cloud server management system which includes automated backup and disaster recovery management. The current clients include online clothing retailer Bohoo.com as well as Hewlett Packard and NASCAR in the US.
An IT architect, Mr Gildea had observed the global surge in cloud usage and seen an opportunity to create a visual server management system which would make the cloud more accessible to companies and easier to manage.
“The cloud brings both benefits and risks — our CloudRanger software gives users control and allows them to manage the risks and withstand disaster by ensuring that data is consistently backed up and can be easily restored if necessary,” he says.
When he drew his product idea on a cocktail napkin, he was working as a consultant for a photography company in Chicago. Impressed with the concept, his bar companions, two directors of the photo company, provided him with investment which allowed him to establish CloudRanger in Letterkenny in 2014.
Enrolling in Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Programme, Mr Gildea spent a year developing the platform – which was market ready by the end of 2015.
Making its first sale to a Donegal publishing company, CloudRanger advertised on the Internet and in early 2016 came to the attention of clothing retailer Boohoo.com which trialled the system online and signed up as a customer.
“At the time, we were working on establishing that there was a market and a need for our product, so this was a major milestone,” says Mr Gildea.
While continuing to build the business by selling the first version of the software, the company sought funding to carry out further market research and to design a new version from scratch, using the feedback provided by customers.
“In January this year, we secured €550,000 in funding which included High Potential Start Up funding from Enterprise Ireland. We used this to grow the team from four to nine and for R&D,’’ says Mr Gildea.
Through the sales of the first version, CloudRanger had 150 customers in 18 countries by the start of the year.
“Our largest market is the US but we also have good sales in Australia. Sales picked up significantly at the end of last year, and in September we sold to Hewlett Packard who found us on the Internet.’’
Following the launch of version two, with enhanced functionality at the start of July, Mr Gildea says: “Sales have been very good and we have since signed more than 20 new customers. We sold the first version to small and medium sized companies but the new version has also been designed to work with larger cloud computing environments and we are now in negotiations with some large, well-known companies.”
While early customers were mostly IT companies, he says CloudRanger is now talking to some large financial companies, as well as a large UK water company and some hardware manufacturers.
Mr Gildea believes that the market is wide open for CloudRanger, which is one of only two companies offering cloud native backup tools for Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud platform.
The next step will be a fundraising round to secure €2.5m in order to ramp up sales, employ additional staff and open offices in the US and Australia.
Mr Gildea says the main target is the US which is the most advanced market for cloud computing.
One of the bar companions who saw Mr Glidea draw his idea on a napkin, Dan Creviston, has become chief product officer, running a CloudRanger office in Chicago. Over the next year, CloudRanger plans to recruit five or six staff in the US and open more sales offices there.
The goal over the next 12 months is to grow turnover to €1m. The long term aim is to establish CloudRanger as the leading provider of cross-cloud automation and disaster management software across the globe. Mr Gildea says version three of CloudRanger software is already in the works.