Founder Feature: Matt Hawkins, Founder of Cudo
Photo Credit: Cudo Ventures / Alison Coleman | Forbes
In this week’s Founder Feature, partnered with the Super Connect Series powered by Empact Ventures, we are talking to the ambitious serial entrepreneur and founder of Cudo, Matt Hawkins.
Promising to be the Uber of cloud computing, Matt has set out on a journey taking on the hyperscale giants such as AWS – A real David vs Goliath story in the tech world.
Read more in the interview below to learn about how Matt came to found Cudo and how the mission to disrupt cloud computing is progressing.
Q: Who are you and what is your story?
A: I am Matt Hawkins, an entrepreneur, technologist, engineer and dreamer. Taking on the challenge of building tech companies from a vision, is like a pure rush for me. I founded my previous company C4L, in 2000 and spent 16 years building it to the stage where we supported 1% of the UK’s internet infrastructure. Building in software what we previously achieved in hardware, I would like to say one day that Cudo supports 1% of the global internet infrastructure.
Q: Could you tell us about your company and what you’re striving to achieve?
A: Cudo is a SaaS business delivering on the vision to Make Better Use of the World’s Computing Power. Like Uber has for cars, Cudo connects the buyers of cloud computing to the owners of hardware.
Q: What made you decide to take on the challenge of founding your own business?
A: In my previous data centre and cloud business, we knew there was a huge problem with wasted computing power. Machines outside of peak activity would sit 90% idle at times, yet the industry has to continually scale to meet peak demand. The idea behind Cudo was to provide these environments with non-contracted workloads to fill the gaps.
Either that, or I just really hate sleeping…
Q: What is the core technology driving your start-up’s product/service?
A: We have built a profit engine from scratch that looks at the available computing tasks and automatically distributes those jobs to the right environment/hardware based on profitability. By building a single platform that can be used by multiple diverse audiences such as data centres, gamers and blockchains miners, we have been able to secure and scale a global distribution base suitable for lots of different types of cloud computing tasks.
Q: Tell us about some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
A: There will be delays, pivots and unexpected costs along your journey, so cash is king. Raising money is tough and can be a massive distraction. But it’s not just when you’re starting up. At C4L, our customer base and the services we sold them evolved so quickly that our network needed a major upgrade. So even as a mature and profitable company, we needed more external cash to ensure we didn’t fall behind.
Q: What’s most exciting about your traction to date?
A: The sheer potential of the partners we are working with at Cudo is incredible. We have attracted some major household names in the hardware, PC & console gaming, enterprise cloud consumer and blockchain verticals. We have honestly been blown away by the traction we have built so far and this is testament to the efforts the team have put in and the platform that we have built filling a gap in multiple markets.
Q: How are you measuring your success? What are your metrics?
A: We set company OKRs, which are reviewed quarterly and each team set their own OKRs that contribute towards the company set. These are a mix of committed and aspirational objectives covering revenue and user/device growth. The whole team agrees on them from the start to ensure everyone is invested and empowered to make decisions based on achieving the OKRs.
Photo Credit: Cudo Ventures | The Cudo Team
Q: What are your biggest threats?
A: What we are building is brand new technology. The market we have focused on initially (blockchain) is still maturing and therefore carries a risk of volatility. The market we’re aiming to disrupt (hyperscalers like AWS) have deep, deep pockets and the ability to build quickly or buy a competitor to us, so it is key that we keep our focus and be unique.
Q: What keeps you up at night/what are you paranoid about?
A: Usual start-up paranoia can creep in from time-to-time, especially when there are delays in development or investment clearing. Are we going to succeed? Is the market going to like/need what we are building? Do we have sufficient funding for the next 6 – 12 months? These are natural and normal and drive the motivation to succeed.
Q: What is your plan to adapt if your industry is completely disrupted?
A: Adapt like an athlete. Pivots are inevitable, especially in the tech sector where everything evolves so quickly. We have ensured that our platform isn’t niche,
it is generalist to support 100’s of use cases, protecting us from any specific sector disruption. We can run within a data centre like a traditional cloud and we can run outside of a data centre like a distributed cloud, making every connected device in the World, a possible contributor to our network.
Q: Do you see yourself as an underdog?
A: 100% and we love that. We’re ultimately out to disrupt trillion dollar hyperscale companies, taking some of their market share for cloud consumption and distributing it out to provide anyone with hardware with a new income or revenue stream and consumers with a far more cost-effective platform to run their businesses on. We are the Robinhood of cloud computing!
Q: How many hours of sleep do you get and what is your morning/evening routine?
A: 6 hours sleep
Wake up at 4am, quick workout, shower, make-a-shake and then hit the desk
Team calls, external calls and strategy planning / monitoring
Down tools at 7pm, spend time with my wife, family and dogs
Eat, sleep, work, repeat! (and then squeeze in activities at the weekend)
Q: How do you manage the duality between driving new business and overseeing daily operations?
A: I have an incredible team on both the business development and operational fronts. It’s still a balancing act of course; as CEO I have to be involved in all areas of the business and whilst my team excel at what they do, the strategy and direction has to start with me. At the same time, I need to be available for investors, key external meetings and media activities such as podcasts, interviews and speaker slots.
Q: What has surprised you in your journey so far?
A: There are a number of start-ups innovating in the distributed computing space where we are positioned. However, our aim was to focus on and secure the supply side of the ecosystem first, whilst theirs was to focus on demand. We are now regularly being contacted by these companies as they struggle to secure supply and so a good portion of our early demand will actually come from those companies that were initially seen as competition.
Q: Can you tell us who your mentors and heroes are, and what impact they’ve had on you?
A: Absolutely my family, they have always been there to support and encourage me, even when I was a kid taking apart any electrical gadget in the house just to see if I could put it back together again. They are my heroes.
I’ve also been fortunate to have some fantastic business mentors along the journey including Christopher Bayliss of the Vector Group.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to budding innovators taking the same journey?
A: Be ready and willing to make the tough calls. Listen to your audience and adapt. Set objectives and targets from the beginning. Build a hungry team around you and fully trust them. Always make sure you have a 6-12 months cash runway and know that raising money takes longer than you think. You need to have a very clear message and focus and start building a network very early on.
Learn more about Matt Hawkins and Cudo here: www.cudoventures.com