Hey Everyone - Dez here from All Things Venture. If you don’t already know this, I am a New Yorker. Now it’s up for debate on if I will end up being a long time New Yorker, but I’ve been living in New York now for the better part of a decade so for better or worse I’m a New Yorker. A product of being a New Yorker is that indoor dining just opened up, and as such I went to dinner this past Friday night with two close friends. We talked about the pandemic, we talked about the impact race has had in our lives, and we talked about the internet. The common thread across all three topics of conversation, and also the reason we were all at dinner in the first place, is that they all involved a desire for connection. The pandemic has overtly impacted the connections we all have in our day to day lives, race plays an impact historically and currently on gating who and what can be connected, and the internet fundamentally displaced previous limitations of connection. If that sounds like an abstraction to you, that’s because it is - but the point I am trying to make is that the more easily we can all connect, in the long run, I think the better off we all are. And connection doesn’t necessarily mean being able to turn something on, meet up with someone in a public place, or have access to specific resources. Connection in my mind is broader, it can mean having a design interface that is intuitive. It can mean having a clear picture of the underlying problem you’re trying to address. It can mean fully understanding the amount of money you’re spending on a particular platform. Connection, in my mind, is a broad term and something that every entrepreneur will solve for at some point, and this brings me to today’s startup spotlight - Vantage.
Ask any developer about how they feel about AWS and they’ll probably say something along the lines of “Great service, but the console is a nightmare to use”, or something like, “It could not be harder to get a full picture of how much I am spending,” or, “It’s AWS, so I’m going to use it but I wish the experience was made with developers in mind.” To continue the analogy I was making earlier, the way Vantage solves for connection is more specific than the generalized use of the term, but it’s necessary and valuable nonetheless. I sat down with Ben Schaechter of Vantage to get a better sense of what he and his team are building at Vantage.
All Things Venture: What is Vantage?
Ben: Vantage is an alternative to the AWS console with a focus on developer experience and cost transparency. Essentially what we do is provide a read only experience for grouping together AWS resources and making it extremely transparent what the costs are for each AWS service and how to combat those costs.
All Things Venture: What led you to build Vantage?
Ben: My background is working in the public cloud – I’ve worked at Amazon AWS, but prior to that I worked at a company called DigitalOcean, which is a watered-down competitor to AWS. What I saw during my time there is that clients would start on DigitalOcean, but as they grew, they would migrate to AWS. Everyone under the sun was/is on AWS, and the services are great but the developer experience is really rough. On the flip side, DigitalOcean may have not had the same quality of services, but the developer experience is great. What we’re trying to build at Vantage is to provide an amazing developer experience but for those large public clients that use AWS.
All Things Venture: Are there any concerns for you if Amazon just decided to replicate what Vantage has built?
Ben: It gets asked a bunch, I’ve worked at Amazon – I know how the teams are set up. It’s very difficult for them to do what Vantage does. There’s 200+ teams, each team has high fidelity on how their products run. For them to do along the lines of what Vantage does, they would need to build one team that maps across all 200 teams. UX is not Amazon’s strength. If they try and challenge that – that’s great.
All Things Venture: Who do you believe Vantage is best positioned for?
Ben: It runs the gamut within the developer community. We have individuals and smaller businesses, but we also just onboarded our second publicly traded company. On the individual/SMB side they are trying to understand the resources they have, and use Vantage to make sure there are no runaway costs. On the other end of spectrum – larger companies need to understand costs on a more granular basis, and how costs are trending over time. We’re a bit like a Google Analytics or Tableau tool, but for developers.
All Things Venture: What are some of the challenges that you face at the current stage for Vantage?
Ben: The challenge for us right now is continuing to iterate on the product to serve the use cases for more sophisticated users. Right now, we’re speaking with some of our larger, more sophisticated customers and figuring out how to serve them extremely well. It’s definitely an ebb and flow toward what the highest priority is for the business, but we’re definitely in a period of focusing on product development and customer success.
All Things Venture: What are some of the unmet needs of the developer community and what are some trends you see going on in the developer community?
Ben: It’s going to grow. Frankly there’s a lot of companies in the same realm as Vantage. Companies doing the unsexy work of making developer’s lives easier. Developers are increasingly becoming decision makers at companies as well, and I think that trend is only going to continue.
All Things Venture: What defines success for Vantage over the next few months?
Ben: In my mind, the key metric for us is revenue growth – but we’re looking at all metrics, user growth, engagement, revenue. At the end of the day, I think revenue is a great metric to track – if you have revenue over a wide set of customers and it continues to grow over time, that’s the validation you look for to understand if you are providing value.
All Things Venture: What advice do you have for any aspiring entrepreneur?
Ben: I personally think you always have the ability to begin working on something and speaking with customers, but there is always the risk, that voice in our heads asking, “ should I do this?” I would encourage people to think about it – should I build the company, and to not be afraid to start.
That’s all for this week - you can check out Vantage’s solution yourself here!