Finding Our Direction

By Adam O'Neill
Published on May 01, 2020

Hello friends. I’d like to invite you to grab a cup of coffee and get cozy while I take you on the journey of how we found our current path forward, which we think leads to our Blue Ocean.

What’s a Blue Ocean anyways? A Blue Ocean refers to a market for a product where there is very little competition and pent up demand.

The story of Waterbear begins with our founder in chief, Kevin Lindsay, recognizing a complexity problem with IaC and creating an automated tool to help businesses rapidly build secure and reliable AWS environments to solve it. This tool, Paco, is so unique and so versatile, that it could change the game for ANY type of business that needed a secure, scalable, and reliable cloud hosting solution to work with.

You always hear that you need to find your niche. And in the beginning, we thought we had. Our technology was truly unique and had the power to revolutionize the market place. When you’ve built something and you’ve invested all of your time and resources into it, you’re very excited to share it with anyone and everyone who will give you the time of day. So we started to put ourselves out there. Networking. Starting conversations. Trying to tell the world about our exciting new cloud technology. But as we quickly learned, when you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one. And as it turns out… they won’t speak to you either. Hah.

Even with all of our efforts, we just weren’t getting as many leads as we needed to make the impact we’d envisioned. And the ones we did get, we had difficulty communicating all of our shininess to them. Which turned into an overall lack of engagement. People not responding to our emails or messages. Leads drying up. Talk about disheartening. We poured our hearts and souls into this, only to hear crickets back. Ouch.

Lucky for us, that old adage about finding your niche was slowly starting to sink in. Time to try something new.

In March, we started a more focused approach using LinkedIn. We jazzed up my profile and started reaching out to the Vancouver tech community. People were really receptive to me on LinkedIn, and through my networking I was connected with someone who runs a Microsoft tech consultancy.

Despite neither of us being a client fit for each other, we chatted on LinkedIn and learned about each other’s ideal clients, and then voila, he connected me with a new lead a couple days later! What an amazing example of what can happen when people are authentically open to human connection. I met with the lead, a great guy, who ended up being a tech consultant working on behalf of his client.

His client was having an app built by a development studio. It would be an in-house application at first, but they had plans to turn it into a SaaS in the future. The consultant was helping them look for a place to host the app. I could tell he really cared about the client and wanted to find the best solution for them, so we really hit it off. We both agreed that Waterbear’s technology might be a bit overkill for what they needed, but he was really supportive of startups and wanted to go through our discovery call and proposal process to see our solution and also to help us practice (this guy’s a legend).

From the discovery call we learned that their needs were the same as 90% of companies looking to host an application in the cloud. They needed the basics. Secure, reliable, scalable infrastructure that harnesses the power of the cloud without exposing them to the pitfalls. We realized our tooling could get the job done rapidly as-is. Paco was ready.

Ok, we know we can get the job done right, and done fast. Let’s take a look at the competition.

The standard play to get a new app in the cloud is to host it on a PaaS, such as Heroku or Render. Using a PaaS starts cheap, but scaling businesses can see 3x-5x cost increases per month when they begin to grow. They are great places to start with your proof of concept, but when you start to scale, the skyrocketing costs, lack of flexibility, and your industry compliance needs will force you to build a new solution elsewhere in the cloud. Another major project just as you’re scaling is not what the startup doctor ordered.

If you want this new solution to be secure, reliable, and scalable — you’re either going to hire a cloud engineer or retain the services of a traditional cloud managed service provider. Both of which are very expensive. We’re talking 50–100k per year.

There’s a pretty massive gap between the two. So what do people do? Well, many of them don’t make the jump. Instead they give the task of designing and building the foundation of their technology to a rookie. Either someone on their team, or some junior engineer that they’ve hired for the purpose, taking on a huge liability of security breaches and spotty app reliability.

So wait a second — this big gap in the market is underserved. There’s got to be a plethora of companies in the gap who deserve secure, reliable, and growth ready cloud infrastructure.

Cue light bulb moment and a lot of excitement.

We decided to prep our proposal based on this potential blue ocean discovery as its first test.

As we presented it, we could see the consultant’s eyes light up. He saw it too. And was blown away that within a one week setup time we could offer a secure, pre-tested, growth ready framework — powered by AWS — for only 5k* AND it would only cost his client $1,000* a month to have it managed for him by a team of AWS experts!

With this newfound clarity and the first test passed, we realized that we may have stumbled upon a massive opportunity, and at the same time, found our niche.

On one end of the spectrum, we’re now able to package our services to meet a void in the marketplace and serve companies who are coming out of the PaaS phase, or want to skip it altogether.

And on the other end, we’re able to help growing businesses who need security and compliance, but can’t afford to engage a cloud consultancy or hire a cloud engineer.

Through having the opportunity to present on this job, we were able to identify that SaaS companies in these situations are a perfect fit for Waterbear. And maybe more importantly, we’re a perfect fit for them.

So, there you have it, we’ve found what we think is our Blue Ocean. Next up is to test our assumptions and anecdotal evidence by running a digital marketing campaign focused on this gap in the market. If you’re still reading this, thanks so much for your time; I hope you’ve found it valuable. Next week I’ll be sharing how Waterbear fills the gap.

Cheers,

Adam

*Pricing reflects an annual commitment, with full payment due upon the completion of onboarding as part of our annual payment savings plans. Monthly plans available. Get in touch for more details.