by Jake McMillan
On a stereotypical grey and wet London Sunday afternoon, I persuaded the founder of Cloudbase.io (a technology service provider to mobile application developers), Stefano Buliani, to take a short break and talk to me about himself and his new venture. Surrounded by laptops, PCs and monitors, I joined him for a cup of tea in his Islington flat.
So would you describe yourself as part techie, part entrepeneur?
In a way yes, but, I am only entrepreneurial out of necessity. As a techie in a big company it is rare you get to do cool stuff, but by setting up my own business, I can do the cool techie things I am interested in.
You’ve been involved in quite a few successful technology start ups, but this is your first very own venture?
More or less, I get wacky ideas every month about doing some project or business idea, but this is the first that has been developed into a real business. The start ups I have been involved in previously have been successful and they are all still going: Yoda, an Italy-based IT services company (now called Y-Tech); Meganexus, an online secure data sharing and monitoring service and most recently Covestor, an investment management service for people to follow experts in investment management.
Cloudbase.io is a very techie service, is it possible to explain what it is to a lay person?
Haha, yes, it is very techie, the market for Cloudbase.io is developers and entrepreneurs in the mobile phone sector. In simple terms Cloudbase.io is a smart cloud hosting service aimed specifically at mobile application developers. Rather than the developer having to spend a lot of time and money creating and supporting their own infrastructure cloudbase.io offers all of that right out of the box. Sign up and within minutes you are developing your app rather than spending your time configuring servers and writing your own backend code. We’ll take care of everything else.
How long has Cloubase.io been going?
It started last year (2012) and we already have a growing a customer base and support every single mobile platform available. The vision is for it to be the pipes of the mobile application industry.
Cloudbase uses the .io domain, which is set for the British Indian Ocean Territory, why is this?
The .io is actually a very geeky reference to input and output as this is exactly the service that cloudbase.io provides, data goes in and out.
And the name Cloudbase?
This is simply a combination of cloud and database. It has nothing to do with the headquarters in the sky of Spectrum from Captain Scarlet. I’m not THAT geeky.
What are the main benefits of Cloudbase.io?
I have already mentioned the speed to market. So the first point is saving time. No need for them to configure, develop and maintain a backend infrastructure. This means saving both time and money. Developers only have to pay when the app is actually up and running in an application store.
Cloudbase’s scalable infrastructure and will manage the growth and sale for you without requiring you to do any maintenance. If a company wanted to do this on their own it would take a lot of time and would be very expensive. So whether you are a kid developing an app in your garage or a large app development house, we make it easier for you.
Here you are working hard on a Sunday, does this mean you are a workaholic?
[laughs] No, I’m not a workaholic, but I do have a slight problem or case of OCD when I have an idea. I cannot sit still or relax until I have thought it all through or resolved it.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I like to travel, ride motorbikes and go to the pub! I am also involved in a charity (Adventure Ashram) that provides education in rural india and help to organise fundraising events every year.
How is it being an Italian in London?
I love being in London! I’ve been here since 2005 but maybe moving to Vancouver in the future as my partner is from there.
Cloudbase.io is made up of quite an international team isn’t it?
That’s correct, the team come from all over the world. This partly reflects the international nature of London and it is good to be able to draw on global pool of talent. This is important as Cloudbase is a service that is not restricted to a certain country or territory.
I understand that all your IT knowledge is self-taught?
Yes, that’s right. This comes from being an IT geek at high school and I’ve haven’t stopped since!
Do you have any advice or tips for someone starting up their own business?
If you are going to start a business, do it and dedicate yourself to it. However, avoid working from home as it can become an obsession. It can be difficult to get a good work/life balance as you can easily let it take over and you need to find a way to disconnect and switch off. For me, it means not working from home, but going to an office but when I come home, I am going home to relax, not to work.
What kind of boss are you?
I like to think I’m a good boss as people seem to be happy to work for me. I think the team realise I understand techie’s, as I am one, and so gain respect this way. I also give people the freedom to work they want to. I tell them two things, what needs to be done and the delivery date. The rest is up to them, I’m not going to micro manage them.
What 5 things would you take with you to a desert island?
[after quick discussion of which ocean it is in – Pacific is agreed upon] I would take my swimming trunks, my girlfriend and my offroad bike.
But that’s only 3 things and one of those, the swimming trunks, is not entirely necessary?
Those three things will do me nicely [smiles].