Most startups grow by developing apps, services, platforms — you name it. They find their way and then they lose their way. They pivot, find success or they fail.
Copper.io, a provider of cloud management tools, took a pivot that did not require changing product features. Instead, Copper.io took a path that most larger companies follow when they need to diversify their offerings. They started making acquisitions. The startup’s latest is Pandastream, a video platform that runs on AWS and supports multiple video codecs. The service allows for streaming to iOS and Android platforms, adjusted to the speed of the connected device. It has customers such as SAP, MIT and McCann Worldgroup.
In its beginnings, Copper.io offered a cost analytics tool for cloud services. In a Skype interview tonight, CEO Ed Byrne said the service was a bit before its time and so they turned to their customers, asking about their developer stacks:
It became obvious there was a nearly standard set of ‘things to do’ and it was a bit of a pain to set up these tools every time you deploy an app – so we are trying to solve that by building and buy the best of breed tools for the modern app stack – and then integrating them so a developer can get up and going much faster. We also feel like PaaS platforms are great to get started, but if you consider the S curve of the development lifecycle – PaaS starts great but doesn’t stay with users when they start scaling. We want to be there for the whole lifecycle.
The company has done six acquisitions in the past four months as part of its effort to build out it cloud management platform. It chooses companies according to the feedback they get from developers. “What’s your stack?” is the question they ask. Here’s what has resulted. A portfolio of companies that Byrne said cost a bit more than $1 million:
- CloudVertical: The company’s first app, a tool that measures performance of cloud apps.
- Twist.io: An alert notification service designed for developers and IT.
- PandaStream: The company’s latest acquisition serves developers adding video into their apps.
- PointHQ: The service provides DNS hosting, going by the name PointDNS.
- Stackful: A collection of pre-baked environments for developers. It supports Node.js, Meteor and Ruby on Rails through a simple user interface.
- Statsmix: A dashboard to monitor apps and web sites.
Copper.io provides a single interface for many of the tools used in a modern application stack, Byrne said. The data is shared on the back-end, adding intelligence along the way.
The team from Copper.io comes from a background in hosting, which is evident in how the service works. The user signs up for a service and is recommended other tools that they add by checking a box. The tools are connected by APIs.
Copper.io is a collection of services but designed based on feedback, which is actually one of the soundest ways to build a startup. If something is not working, the entrepreneur has to figure out what’s wrong and where to take the business. If they don’t then there is little chance of succeeding.
Still, the company is entering a really crowded market. Cloud management and PaaS offerings are numerous. There are the majors like Red Hat OpenShift, Heroku, Engine Yard and Cloud Foundry. There are dozens of smaller players and a group of homegrown, bake your own services that developers are building.<
It’s a tough market to enter but Copper.io’s model makes sense. Apps are everywhere. The question, though is not about their proliferation but really what people want and how the app can connect with other services to provide that service people really need.