What I Learned Building a Startup on Microsoft Cloud Services: Part 11 – Vacation Time, Profitability and Listening to the Customers

April 17th, 2012

I am the founder of a startup called Cotega and also a Microsoft employee within the SQL Azure group where I work as a Program Manager. This is a series of posts where I talk about my experience building a startup outside of Microsoft. I do my best to take my Microsoft hat off and tell both the good parts and the bad parts I experienced using Azure.

Vacation Time

It has been a few weeks since my last post and I apologize for that.  One of the big reasons why I have not posted more recently is because I took a vacation with my family.  One of the downsides of starting a business by yourself is that you are never truly on vacation.  It is important that Cotega is always running and although it is pretty self sufficient and (luckily) I have not had any major issues with the service other than that one Azure outage, I am always concerned that something may happen or a customer has a problem.  With most jobs there is always someone that knows how to get a hold of you if there is a major issue and even if you have a co-founder there is always someone there who can contact you if there is a problem.  I think that is really one of the other big advantages of bringing on a co-founder.

Profitability

Since I last posted, I started charging for the service and I am  happy to say that Cotega is now officially profitable.  Yeah!…   Well, let me be more clear about that.  By profitable, I mean I am officially making enough money to cover the costs of operating the service (including those costs that will come when my BizSpark program ends).  I am still a long way from taking any major salary.  But for me this is a big step because it was one of the main goals of starting Cotega.  If you are  reading this and are thinking of doing a startup, I have to tell you that one of the most exciting things to see are those first transactions coming in to your account.  Even the small transactions are incredibly exciting.  I think it has to do with the realization that there are in fact  customers out there that are interested in what you are doing and are willing to pay for it.

New Features and Customer Suggestions

The other big reason why I have not posted is because I have been focusing on some new features for the service.  Yesterday I deployed an update that allows for monitoring of blocked and poor performing queries.    Each of these new features have come from existing customers I have been working with.  I keep the suggestions in the Github issue repository where I can track the features that are most commonly requested and start working on those first.    The other great source of ideas has been from people I have contacted that are not customers at all.  For example, Microsoft has some amazing MVP’s who work closely with different Microsoft technologies and are absolute experts in these products.  Every MVP I have ever worked with has gone way out of their way to help me and some of the best ideas (that are still in the works) have come from these people.

If any of you have not yet tried the service but are interested in seeing the service, I created this code that you can use to try any of the plans for 30 days free: 30dayfree

Liam

One Response to “What I Learned Building a Startup on Microsoft Cloud Services: Part 11 – Vacation Time, Profitability and Listening to the Customers”

  1. [...] Cavanagh (@liamca) continued his series with What I Learned Building a Startup on Microsoft Cloud Services: Part 11 – Vacation Time, Profitabil… on [...]

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