When it comes to scaling a business, founders can’t have their heads in the clouds, but they probably already store most of their data in the cloud. Predictions say half of the world’s data — a humongous 100 zettabytes — will be in the cloud by 2025.
That goes for corporates too; with the share of corporate data stored worldwide in the cloud jumping from 30% in 2015 to 50% in 2021.
There’s a pretty good chance your startup is storing some (if not all) of its data in the cloud already. Question is, are you using the cloud to scale?
Predictions say half of the world’s data — a humongous 100 zettabytes — will be in the cloud by 2025
“We have customers from every single vertical and industry that you could imagine,” says Benjamin Gotfredson, global startup programme manager at Snowflake. “They all take their own unique business challenges and solve them through harnessing data in the cloud.”
Here are four ways you can use the cloud to help your startup scale by tackling growth challenges.
1/ You can share data with big companies
Customer acquisition can be an important part of scaling. And if your startup is B2B, you may want to sell your products and services to established corporations and bigger enterprises. This means they’ll expect — and want to do business with — companies that can share data with them seamlessly and securely.
“If your startup is a B2B software company that’s looking to sell to other companies, you might be looking to sell to the most advanced data companies in the world,” Gotfredson tells Sifted. “And if you’re selling to an advanced data company, they’re going to expect you to have that technology yourself.”
OverlayAnalytics, a startup that delivers financial reports and analyses to its customers via cloud-sharing and winner of Snowflake’s 2021 startup challenge, says it uses data sharing to gain an advantage over its competitors.
Gotfredson adds that big companies will expect data security to be taken seriously, so startups need to make security a priority as soon as they start collecting and storing data.
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Cloud software like Snowflake use end-to-end encryption to keep data secure, and work in compliance with government security mandates.
2/ Use real-time data to open up new use cases
One feature of Snowflake is data sharing; providers can then use this feature to make data available to their own customers in real-time. Eva Murray, Snowflake’s senior evangelist in EMEA, says startups can be closer to consumer behaviour. This allows them to adjust their offerings faster and make decisions quicker.
“It changes how companies can make decisions and the types of decisions they can make,” she says. “It means they can be much closer to their customers and influence buying behaviour when it happens, rather than trying to do so after the fact.”
For example, Elysium Analytics, a security analytics platform and finalist in Snowflake’s 2021 startup challenge, uses Snowflake to collect and store data in the cloud. By having data available in near real-time, the platform can monetise data to its customers, adding to its product offering.
Understanding which areas most benefit from real-time data and which ones are equipped to utilise it to its full extent can help organisations assess their need for data that is truly generated in real-time
However, Murray notes “real time” needs to be defined clearly as it can mean something different for a bank where transactions can happen in millisecond speed, compared with a small company that doesn’t yet have that functionality or even the need. She says startups should take the time to work out how real time data can work best for them.
“Typically there should be a real need for real-time before it truly becomes an option for an organisation. Making data available in the moment it happens or is created requires resources, and may simply not be necessary or available in an organisation," she tells Sifted. "Understanding which areas most benefit from real-time data and which ones are equipped to utilise it to its full extent can help organisations assess their need for data that is truly generated in real-time."
3/ Future-proof your platform
While data startups might not start with an unmanageable amount of data, Gotfredson says that can quickly change — and scaling businesses will need to have a tech infrastructure ready in place for when that day comes.
“It’s not so relevant where small startups are today with their data needs,” he tells Sifted. “But it’s going to be really important with where they are going to be in 12 to 24 months, if they’re going to have the growth and adoption that they’re hoping for and building for.”
By utilising a scalable cloud-based data platform as early as possible, Gotfredson says data startups can future proof their company. Murray says startups utilising cloud software are able to better focus on their “core mission,” because they minimise the time spent upgrading and managing tech infrastructure.
It’s not so relevant where small startups are today with their data needs. But it’s going to be really important with where they are going to be in 12 to 24 months
“Being able to spin up Snowflake quickly and easily in the cloud means startups can dedicate more time and effort developing their own product,” she says. “Instead of starting with spreadsheets on hard drives, they can build and develop in the cloud right from the beginning and keep on top of their data and data quality.”
4/ Leverage data and insights to drive revenue
Data offers a targeted and accurate way for data startups to improve their services, and grow their business — something Snowflake supports their customers globally with through the Data Cloud. It connects customers and their data across regions and clouds to enable them to scale.
“We’ve been able to look at our data, identify potential problems and adapt,” says Gotfredson. “That’s what we did as a startup and we encourage the startups that we partner with to do the same.”
In a time when fast and easy access to live data is key for most businesses, the cloud also enables them to collaborate more effectively around data, says Murray. This means companies can share data internally between departments, as well as externally with partners, vendors, suppliers and customers: “The cloud brings a lot of additional convenience for collaboration, and also comes with certified security and user access controls. I like to think of it as a shared space.”
Join the Snowflake 2022 startup challenge
If your startup is currently building, or planning to build, a data application on Snowflake — and you have less than $5m in funding — you can apply now for the Snowflake startup challenge.
“We want to see all the startups that are building cool products and applications using Snowflake,” says Gotfredson. “We have up to a million US dollars in investment that we plan on giving out across the three finalists.”
Last year, Snowflake received over 230 applications from over 50 countries, which was narrowed down to ten semi-finalists. Applications are open until March 1.
Enter the Snowflake Startup Challenge here.