Startups & Entrepreneurs: Underdogs that you love to cheer for

May 24, 2013
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I’m a big fan of the underdog – you never really lose if you bet on the underdog, because the odds are already against them, so no one’s surprised when the odds hold true; however, when you bet on the underdog correctly, you’re a hero, and duly so. I naturally tend to cheer for a losing team if I catch a match on at the bar, because I want to see a come-back, an unexpected change, and I know that I’ve got nothing to lose. With startups and with people, this principle holds true: I love to cheer for startups that are up against a big player, especially when I see a drive that can give them an edge over an incumbent sitting pretty in their #1 position.

There may be no other so formidable than Clever Cloud CEO and co-founder Quentin “the Mayor of Nantes” Adam. A young 25 year-old with a passion for music, server optimization, and a knack for politics, Adam looked me straight in the eyes earlier this week during lunch and said “my goal is to kick Amazon Web Services the F*CK out of Europe.” It’s that kind of attitude that got him funding from KIMA Ventures as well as access to Iliad’s high-security servers, and it’s that kind of attitude that got him the award of “best startup” and JournalDuNet’s annual Cloud conference EuroCloud.

And so, when Quentin told me last year he was going to launch Clever Cloud, we made the decision to move from *Insert the cheapest hosting you provide when you Google “cheap hosting” today* to Clever Cloud – sure, I had technical advisers telling me I was insane to entrust my website to a startup that could shut down tomorrow, but Quentin looked me in the eye and said “Iliad’s servers aren’t going anywhere, and your site will only go down if Iliad goes down.” Sure, we’ve had hiccups – no more than AWS or any other provider, and I’ve always gotten the CEO on the phone 60 seconds after noticing it.

IMG_0759sWhile I sometimes ask myself whether I shouldn’t switch over to Amazon Web Services (and, thus, employ a developer to manage that god awful interface), or switch to one of a dozen other providers who have offered to host Rude Baguette for free, I have stuck with Clever Cloud because I have a feeling there is something to be done in this space.

Clever Cloud launched with some intricate payment system that I still don’t understand to this day, but luckily I wasn’t alone, and the company announced this week that it has simplified its payment system: a fixed price depending on what type of machine and what language, simple as that. You need 3 PHP servers to manage your blog: you can calculate that easily with their price estimation tool. Sure, it’s not perfect now, but they’ve hit on something that is utterly preposterous: like internet, electricity & water, cloud storage is quickly becoming a commodity, but it’s the only commodity whose price is utterly impossible to determine, because AWS loans out its spare servers and changes the price based on 1) what you need 2) what they have.

If you’re set up on AWS, Dreamhost, OVH, etc.  today, I wouldn’t say change right away. If you’re frustrated with your provider, I’d certainly suggest you look into something a little less frustrating. And while you’re looking, why not check out Clever Cloud. And if you’re passing through France, you can’t help but spot Quentin Adam, strutting around in one of his signature Coton Doux shirts.

Note: Clever Cloud provides cloud hosting for Rudebaguette.com – the entire announcement about new pricing and award-winning can be found on their blog.