Ep. 522 w/ Ryan Kiskis Director, Startup Ecosystem, Google Cloud
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Kevin Horek: Welcome back to the show today. We have Ryan kiss. He's the director of startup ecosystem at Google cloud. Ryan, welcome to the show.
Ryan Kiskis: Thanks Kevin. It is great to be here. Great to chat with you and a shot with all your listeners as well.
Kevin Horek: Yeah, I'm excited to have you on the show. I think majority of people, or a lot of people at least use Google cloud, or at least probably Google many times throughout the day, but maybe before we get into that, let's get to know you better and start off with where you grew up.
Ryan Kiskis: Sure. I mean, the answer is mostly the bay area. I w I was actually born abroad. My, my parents were ex-pats, there was one in the Netherlands, but I came back when I was two. I don't really remember it that well. We bounced around a little, growing up, I spent some time in Canada. I spent some time in Texas, but the bay area was always home base is always where we came back to. And, a couple different places around here, but, I like to call it home. It's, it's a place that I love and happy to be based here right now.
Kevin Horek: Yeah, that's a beautiful area. You went to university, what did you take and why?
Ryan Kiskis: I studied mechanical and aerospace engineering. I studied, arrow in particular at the time, because it just seemed like the hardest thing to do. Some of the most had some of the most advanced mathematics or on, fluid dynamics, control systems. It was also very interdisciplinary across other engineering areas. And, I knew, I mean, I had, strengthened in stem in general, kind of growing up and I wanted to double down on that. I wanted to know I had the best grounding enabled to be able to work in a very quantitative fashion as in when needed. I will say Aero. I think they also had the coolest toys. I remember pulling up a model jet engine in a box in the lab and like dumping fuel in the afterburner and see like Jennifer, like come out the back and, wind tunnel dynamics of race cars. And, but, I also, even at that point, I had a real fondness for startups and, I, I, Princeton had the fortunate enough to have a, an entrepreneurial course track.
Ryan Kiskis: We had a great professor named ed Shaw, who would, he'd been an entrepreneur himself. This was back in 2000, 2001, 2002. He brought a ton of his hands-on experience to his students. And that was just a fantastic opportunity. I think it, I also wanted that exposure to technology beyond like, say like the core, like mechanical aerospace engineering, at that point, a lot of it was around software development. You know, I'm not a software developer. I never did that as a practice. I do not have the depth and skillset of the folks that I've worked with and been on my teams like their wizards in being able to build things rapidly. But I wanted that exposure. I wanted to understand it. My senior thesis was building a, a control system for a mock satellite formation simulated with hovercraft. So, at least have some of the, I want to have some of the grounding there.
Ryan Kiskis: I did, I did take a, perhaps not unusual, very probably well-trodden path to then go and study business at Stanford after is like, I'll be back out here to the bay area, which is something I was looking for and really be able to go deeper around startups.
Kevin Horek: Okay. Very cool. Walk us through that, your career up until kind of Google cloud, and then let's dive into that.
Ryan Kiskis: So, just being hanging back in the mayor around Stanford, you used, you just infused with the overall startup ecosystem. And, I knew I wanted to get involved around that. I actually started, I, I started working with the first startup. I was engaged when I was still studying, still doing my MBA. I worked there part-time for my first year, through the summer. Through the second year as well, it was a company called ex fire. It was around gaming. We built one of the first like social networks around video games, actually. It was a new back in 2004, 2005, none of them Xbox live and steam, none of this stuff really existed. And, and so were kind of building that first platform to allow you to connect with your friends and socialize across games. And that was a ton of fun. A lot of people play video games growing up, but it was kind of a dream to be able to come in like, Hey, I can do this as my job.
Ryan Kiskis: Right. I can actually like get engaged around something that, I feel passionate about. I led the product and business development teams. It was super small. I joined me there about 13 people. The company expired, grew very rapidly. We ended up being acquired by MTV in 2006. It was the largest gaming related acquisitions at the time. It was just, it was, this was, see this theme come out, actually , post.com bust. It was one of the, I think some of the poster Childs of success of coming out of that and really trying to say, all right, how do we take some of the learnings from what startups have been doing and really go from there after X fire jumped over to ven rock for a short period of time, I knew I wanted to learn a bit more on the venture side and then how VC firms operated spent, not honestly, not that much time I've been rock.
Ryan Kiskis: I had sourcing some investments around in gaming for them. They had an, almost an incubator type model at the time called the Cori, which is helping prototype and innovate new startup ideas. And, we had an investment thesis that we just couldn't find the right company for. I knew I wanted to walk in those shoes myself to be able to say, Hey, I've, I know more at least about what it takes to actually start something from scratch. Ended up starting a business out of the quarry called martini media, which was, again, one of the first, it was the first ad network in online property, really targeting high net worth individuals online. This was a space that just no one had really dug into their work metrics around it. It was very difficult to target variable, build content. Stood that up and ran that company for about two and a half years.
Ryan Kiskis: I knew nothing about online ad sales, and that was a trial by fire learning along the way. And, eventually had to bring in a, a CEO who really knew this highly industry veteran expert who took that on. And, my martini went along eventually acquired many years later. It was decent exit for everyone, but it was definitely a learning experience along the way. For me, I spent jumped at two more, two different startups. I moved over to London at the time. I wanted to get a bit of exposure externally, internationally as well, worked with a company called base kit led their product team basically did web development software effectively for small businesses, Squarespace Wix type of form. They actually continue to, to crank along. That was, there was a chance to a lot of our distribution was through partnerships with larger organizations, right. That could be some of the tech companies talking to Google talk to Amazon at that time, worked with hosting providers, go daddy, one-on-one that thing.
Ryan Kiskis: A bunch of time trying to figure out how we can better partner as a small company, as a startup to be successful, made another leap to a company called Cazada, which was an enterprise AI and ML based recommendation engine. Use AML to make recommendations for next best action for your customers. Sure on a call with a customer and, they're asking about their account balance or, scheduling their service interval, what can, what recommendation would you give your, your call center rep about, what they might want to close the call with? There an, is there an upsell offer? There, a customer concern we should address so interesting space there. I joined them. They were acquired about six months later. I didn't have a lot in a lot of time to spend there. That was the point when I went over to AWS. This is about 2012 at this point.
Ryan Kiskis: And, AWS was really just starting to lay the groundwork of, how to engage more systematically with the VC and startup ecosystem. There were just a handful of us on the team when I joined and I spent the next seven and a half years actually with AWS, really trying to think about how to help startups and were successful. That was the goal of the team. I mean, C wanted them to make a selection of particular cloud platform, but really it was there to help them be successful. If they are successful, they will better customers for us in the long run as well.
Kevin Horek: Sure. Okay. Very cool. What made you come to Google and what exactly is your role and then let's dive into what exactly Google cloud is.
Ryan Kiskis: Yeah, so, from the enemy that side, I mean, I've seen really rapid development of Google cloud. When, when I joined it was very early, in in the, the cloud lifecycle. I think at that point you were doing a lot of, honestly, a lot of battling of just why, why would you use the cloud instead of being, building your own data centers? And, I think I joined Google cloud and, not quite two years ago in 2020 during the pandemic, which was interesting and fun, but I've been seeing that growth and seeing that development, I'm seeing how rapidly that the overall platform had been evolving. I haven't seen a perception change in, in our customers. I saw a lot of enthusiasm on the Google side as well, to do more for startups and really try and think about things in a new way. When Thomas Kurian, our current CEO came into Google cloud, I think you saw him invokes or maybe watching the company, watching the space.
Ryan Kiskis: I'm really trying to take a pretty critical eye to everything that we had been doing and really trying to really build it in the best way possible. And, I saw this as an opportunity to take that, learning, to take that, seven years of trying to help startups grow, trying to figure out how to make them successful, take the best of what we knew, worked, what I knew worked, but also take a bunch of new learnings, new ideas, new concepts that I thought that there was the enthusiasm and the appetite over here to be able to try, I, I think any organization, you do something long enough, you develop a lot of inertia around it. Especially when teams are, are very stable and the AWS started engaging was very stable for a number of years. I think there becomes a downside and things very perhaps remained too stable.
Ryan Kiskis: And, it's easy to take a, a critical comment and say, well, we tried that five years ago and it didn't work. We're going, we're not going to do it now. I think there's, there was an opportunity to really try and innovate how to help startups along the way. It kept me engaged around startups. I will say I didn't, I, when I went into UBS, I did not expect, I didn't think I'd be here almost a decade later, still working at, in cloud helping startups be successful, but I've just found it really enjoyable. Like it's, it's something that keeps me close to that space, keeps me close to founders, close to entrepreneurs, close to VCs and helping that ecosystem overall, really try and grow. Very.
Kevin Horek: Cool.
Ryan Kiskis: Yeah. Yeah.
Kevin Horek: Okay. So how does Google cloud help startups?
Ryan Kiskis: We're really oriented toward trying to understand how to start support startups throughout their entire journey. I think that's one of the things that has really been shifting more recently. How do you think more holistically about that overall startup journey? I mean, and you probably know this is as much as anyone, the average time for a company from thumb founding through to, whatever exit, right. An IPO and acquisition, it's been growing and growing. It's been trending up for, the entire time I've been doing this. I think I was looking at it's about six and a half years now from founding to exit. And that's a long time. Those teams, yes, there's absolutely going to be growth and evolution on those teams, but those, hopefully, your founder is going to be successful. Those teams are going to be stable. There's an opportunity to really try and build relationships with customers from that point of inception really early on and do something that spans across that period, really try and be a partner for them in that overall journey.
Ryan Kiskis: If you look at the ecosystem right now, trying to support, engage with startups, this is not unique. This is a, this is a, well-understood honestly made a critical path for many technology companies, both, the major cloud platforms do it, but you'll see a huge number of our customers that may be building their own B2B enterprise software, building their own startup teams to engage with the ecosystem as well. You do tend to look at that. A lot of the support for startups is tends to be one size fits all. It's often targeted, influencing at one point in the journey at the very start of the journey. And that's a critical point, right? We see that startups will make a lot of selection of whether it's their cloud platform, their CRM, the various tools they're using, and those can change, but they also tend to be sticky.
Ryan Kiskis: It's, it's an overhead to make a change. There was an article I read many years ago. Now, this woman, Facebook had been making a significant infrastructure change for the business and the whole like aspiration, like the, the success metric was our customers had no idea. It was completely invisible to them, right. It's completely seamless and like fantastic thumbs up. If you're talking about something that actually has a startup, like meaningfully changing the trajectory of your business, doing some of your customers have no idea about this challenging. It's challenging to put your engineers on that. There has to be a really strong reason to do it. So, those, those decisions get made early and, they can be difficult to influence down the line. So, why we want to be there. We want to make sure we can engage with startups incredibly early. We want understand that we want to make sure we've got things that can help them along that overall journey.
Ryan Kiskis: Describe to them, how are we here to actually help support you through what's hopefully going to be a lot of growth and a lot of changes, a lot of shifts and turns for you as a business, to, to peel that back more, we actually just launched a new offering for bootstrap startups, financial support credits, from the ideally as much of the point of inception as possible. So, be available to help support our customers when they are just really at the point where like, I am, I have an inkling, I want to do this. I'm ready to get started. How can you help, credits financial support matter, but we're also really trying to leverage a lot of the great work that the Google overall does. Right? I mean, we've obviously been talking a lot about Google cloud. I sit within Google cloud. We are very independently operating a part of the overall alphabet organization, but there's a lot we can draw on.
Ryan Kiskis: There's a lot of passion and enthusiasm for startups in the overall Google organization. One of the things we're really trying to, to build on is working with the overall Google for startups team, which is a broadened, alphabet wide organization, they initiative called startup school, really providing a lot of education for startups in particular new founders, how to build a business overall. Right. How to think about, acquiring your first customers, how to think about setting. Okay, ours, how to think about talent development, how think about design and, they were doing some stuff around cloud, but we're starting to really go much deeper with them. How do we build it like an actual rigorous, like cloud education curriculum into that startup school program? We want that thing to be available to folks who are just getting started, and just starting to think about making some of these decisions, as they grow, as they progress, they secure funding, they joined an accelerator, joined an incubator, there's some diligence going on to, Hey, they're really onto something that, our team is just, we're too small to talk to every startup in the world.
Ryan Kiskis: There's a great ecosystem out there of partners making very smart investments decisions that we can work with. We'll bring them into the next stage of the program, our Google for startups cloud program, the core one provides financial support for them over two years. It's a two year program of credits that we provide. That was something we felt really strongly about. This look in the ecosystem, a lot of it's, here's a big slug of credits all at once. And, if you, if you don't need it right now, kind of sorry, it, it is what it is. Really trying to say like, well, we know it takes longer. We know it takes long. You may want to try things. You may want to experiment with a couple of new architecture. You may want to try some different products, different ways to do things. Let's give you some of the runway to go and do that.
Ryan Kiskis: Beyond like, say like, financial credits, support educational in the way we really want to make sure there are people, behind the scenes, on the team here to, to make you as the startup use this customer be successful. We've stood up at a new startup success team, entire team dedicated to like, what do startups go through? What is their journey look like? We just did a, a great, working session with that team, bring them all into, into one place and putting together the crucible about four days. Essentially like a, a business plan competition put together premise for a business, write the business plan, put together the initial architecture, understand more, what it might take to what those founders are going to be able to talk to them, and what they're experiencing. That team is versed on cloud versed on Google, overall versed on the offerings we have and versed on the typical challenges that our customers might face.
Ryan Kiskis: Everyone who joins our program gets connected into that team to be able to help them along their way.
Kevin Horek: Okay. Very cool. Can you maybe give more concrete examples and what I mean by that is, so I have like say an African idea and I reach out to somebody like yourself or other people on the team, how, like, and you mentioned these credits, so like what types of credits can I get, do I have to use one of the Google development languages, like flutter or like integrate with Firebase, or like, do I have to be already using Google products or at least all of them or some of them, or can you maybe give us an example of, what I'm getting at? Yeah,
Ryan Kiskis: Totally. Totally. Yeah. But it's very straightforward to get started. I ain't going to, we have cloud dot, google.com/startup. There's an application form on there and fill out your info, give us some info about your startup. You're going to be connected into our teams. This is starting when you're just getting started. Let's say you've got the napkin idea. You've got a concept. I, I really, I think there's something here you're very likely going to be joining our bootstrapped offering in a really pre-funded offering. You're going to get $2,000 in credits that are valid over years. You got two years to work with that two years to experiment around, and you can use those across any of the Google cloud products that we have. I mean, you mentioned flutters and incredibly popular, development framework for that. We see a lot of startups using Firebase is incredibly common.
Ryan Kiskis: It's just very easy out of the box straightforward framework to get started, but you don't have to, right. I mean, if you want to, I am, I want to go pure serverless, pure code, right. I just want to write, I want to write script and I don't want to even think about infrastructure. You get up and running with cloud running and just drop functions onto the cloud. We will, you will give us some parameters of how you want that to operate. We'll take care of spooling up the infrastructure if you're at the other extreme. I just want bear instances effectively, right? I want to be able to just control my entire environment. I just want a certain amount of compute power, in the underlying compute engine, that is absolutely an option as well. You can stand up whatever you like. I will see, I will say that, and obviously, coming from a decade, working with cloud, I think there's a tension there, right?
Ryan Kiskis: You see a lot of the best developers, the best engineers. They want that control. They want that ability to set up things exactly as they want. There's a huge amount of value in that actually, particularly in trying to optimize and really get honed down. You also have to think about just the amount of time that it takes to do that in the time to manage that time, to overhead, to do that at the time, to, run your own updates, keep catches up to date, make sure your systems are, continuing to integrate properly with other, potentially a variety of other tools you might be using or other, services you might be interacting with outside of your particular environment. There is a lot of value in taking a close look at where are their managed services, whether it's on the database side, there's GK from, containerization container environment management that you might be able to take advantage of that will save you time and keep you focused on building the things that actually matter to your customers and actually matter to your investors and getting that they, the next round of funding and extending your runway.
Ryan Kiskis: So,
Kevin Horek: No, that makes a lot of sense. I'm curious then if say I have a startup and I've been around for a couple of years, all the stuff that you talked about is, maybe I've raised some money and, or have some customers, can I still come into the Google cloud ecosystem that we're talking about and get some help?
Ryan Kiskis: Yes. Yeah. So, so the perfect example, right? You do that, you're at your napkin idea. You join when you're just, pre-funding get set up with credit, you go and you raise your fantastic series, right? That's the point when you're going to be joining a coloring in our core cloud part and the go for startups cloud program. That's then going to set you up with, we actually will fully cover your cloud costs up to a hundred thousand dollars, but really want to fully cover those cloud costs for the first year that you joined that program. Well, Yeah, I mean, we would, and that is really there to try and enable you to experiment, right? Like we'll say it's a, that's a great number. It's a shiny number, extreme, vast majority of startups don't come anywhere close to spending a hundred thousand dollars in a year at this stage of their life cycle.
Ryan Kiskis: It's there to give you the freedom, right. Say like, I don't have to worry about it for a year. Can I just go and build? I don't have to worry as much about say, am I using exactly the right services? My perfectly optimized my environment. I will say in that first year, they can come to you. You want to make sure you're doing that. You want to make sure you're setting yourself up for success over the longer run, but we don't want to have to worry just for that, that first year you're really getting into it. Like try these things out, experiment it, figure out what's worked. You figure out what's helping you scale. In the second year, we'll cover 20% of your cloud costs also up to a hundred thousand and total benefit. Someone spending theoretically $500,000 on a, on cloud in their second year, a hundred thousand of that is going to be covered.
Ryan Kiskis: Again, that would be an extreme success story. That is someone who has a huge, computational footprint and they are growing extremely rapidly trying to, again, make sure you have that chance to experiment that chance, to try things out and grow over a slightly longer period of time. If you, I mean, you stack this all up, you, we perfectly optimized it. I've got two years in our pre-funding program. I've got two years in the cloud program. I've got four years of financial support here, along the way along the startup journey. As part of the cloud premium, you're gonna get, you get benefits for Google workspace. You get benefits in access into overall startup school. You're starting to get, if you're say building a B2B business, you've got an ISV or enterprise software business, you're going to be landing on the radar of our partner teams, the Google cloud marketplace.
Ryan Kiskis: A lot of the ways we can help support, customer development is starting to come in during that time as well.
Kevin Horek: Okay. Do you and your team then help potentially get customers and, or venture funding because I know obviously Google has a ton of customers and I get that. Like sometimes you can maybe integrate sometimes you can't. I know Google has a bunch of venture arms too. Like, do you guys help with some of that if necessary or where, how does that play in or not playing?
Ryan Kiskis: Yeah, absolutely. We can absolutely help navigate that. We, my team, we don't operate that D ourselves, it obviously makes sense to take advantage of the decades of experience that Google has around doing investment. We are very familiar with those routes, and that's a key part of it. That's everything from, Google for startups to Google for startups team. Again, this , cross Google team, they run a really robust set of accelerators on a regular basis around particular challenges and just wrapped up around climate change. Hey, if you're building something to try and address sustainability, run a startup, run an accelerator around that, I'll take a quick step back. I've been, I, skimmed over but, in terms of what thing that really drew me here as well, I really respected that Google's made it really a core part of how we operate to try and do more to level the playing field overall for entrepreneurs, try and do more for diverse founders and they investors supporting them.
Ryan Kiskis: There's a lot of opportunity to try and build some things that are a little more unique for startups. We've been building, started bringing this same level of support. Access to our, our success team access to our cloud engineers, to the black founders fund, Google's people of startups, black founders fund, the Latin founders fund. We just announced, we're making normally some of this cloud support, but the direct equity free grants into, startups in Ukraine via Ukraine support fund, these things really matter to these folks like you're actually having a real impact on hopefully not only building the next unicorn business, but actually really trying to meaningfully change what the startup ecosystem looks like. And, and so our, again, coming back to a bit, our success team, like we're very well versed on where those opportunities exist across, the alphabet family who might be interesting, interesting potentials for those, each of those programs.
Ryan Kiskis: And, when GV is making an investment or capital is making investment, they've got their own DCS, their own view of what they're looking for, but we collaborate super closely with those teams, meet with them on a very regular basis of what is, what are we seeing. What's interesting. How could we potentially bring you interesting customers that we see in that we think should be on your radar? So.
Kevin Horek: That's hugely valuable from somebody that's been in the startup game a long time, even if you can just make a warm intro to like somebody else at Google to say like, Hey, you should at least have a call. And maybe there's something here, right? Like just sending something simple email like that is astronomically valuable.
Ryan Kiskis: Yes. Yep. And we want to do that. I mean, again, there's only so much that we can do ourselves even across the alphabet organization. Right. So, a part of my team spends their entire day out in front of VCs, spending time with them. We want to be, we want to have the relationships with the investors as much as we do with the startups know, we want to understand, like I am well in the end of the day. I think that startups, that select Google cloud are disproportionately more likely to be successful. They have a better platform to build off of. That's not, that's not my, where I spend my time and money worrying about, Hey, how do I get you onto the platform today and how to spend more? Like, what can we do to be successful? We've got to do the same things for VCs.
Ryan Kiskis: Like, I would love a hundred percent of your portfolio to be running on Google cloud, but I'm not going to sit in your office all day trying to say like, well, so-and-so should be on. Who's not right now. How do you help me with that? We want to be there. You're going to be their trusted advisors. We want to bring them value, bring them expertise, bring them insights into Google cloud, how we're thinking, help their companies. I mean, I can't tell you in the time I'm doing it, how many times a VC has come to me and say, Hey, I just came out of a board meeting, we're talking about, milestones and, the CTO is, is, talking about some of the difficulties they've had in setting up for the scale they're now operating on. Is there someone they can talk to? Can you put me in touch with a product manager?
Ryan Kiskis: Can you put me in touch with like the engineer who builds it? That's what we want to do. We want to enable that as well. We have those relationships with the overall ecosystem as well. And, again, it's, I will say I don't have a perfect map of how the 2000 VCs that we work with every single one of their investment theses and the perfect next investment for them, but we've got a sense of it. We've got those relationships and we very much want to be able to bring some of those ideas to the broader world as well.
Kevin Horek: Very cool. Well, and I guess just maybe for some context, I just, and you can correct me if I'm wrong. Here is obviously like react is a popular language that people use that you, I would assume that you guys could host on Google cloud, but it isn't developed by Google cloud. Is that a fair point? The reality is somebody might use Firebase, which is a Google product that had got you guys bought a number of years ago to do user management across your web app and your Android and iOS app. Correct? Correct. Then, or, but instead of react, you could use flutter because you can compile for the web, Android and iOS and you have one code base, I get react. You can have react and react native, but like, so I guess the point I'm trying to get at is you can use Google services from Google cloud, like Firebase with react, which is not a Google language or with a Google language, and you can kind of mix and match .
Kevin Horek: That's one of the things that I think personally, just as doing this, a number of times is Google's real strong suit is Google does a very good job at supporting cross-platform and from the web to kind of obviously both mobile IOS's and kind of beyond, even, yeah. I, I think people need to think about using you guys that you can use all of it, parts of it. It might be a bit of both at some point, right.
Ryan Kiskis: I can go and I can spool up Google compute engine instances. Right. I can just get essentially a, a fairly raw Linux instance, and I can do whatever I want on top of that. Or I can go very much the manager very much the existing framework route. And, and, I will say like, you see, that flexibility a lot, like trends, a lot of very mixed environments. Like I think about a, let's say you're building, B2B software enterprise software, you may be having to, and you have a small handful of customers that you want to really support really deeply and integrating as close into their environment, how they operate as possible. You may be setting up individual clusters in your overall infrastructure that are optimized for that particular customer and their environment, their development. Now that would be expensive. Right. That'd be happy. You'd have to really say like, that is something that I am ready and willing to take on and do.
Ryan Kiskis: I mean, I would just lean back . My experience like the company calls out I was at, in London, like were effectively doing that. We had a handful of customers. They were very major global businesses, but, and we want to talk to major Ottawa. They're affected like, Hey, this is the way we do things, right. These are the frameworks we use, the APIs we use kind of take it or leave it. Right. You have to, you have that flexibility, as in when it, is needed.
Kevin Horek: Nope. That makes total sense. The other thing that I think is probably worth mentioning, just because I've personally had this experience as well, is I'm doing some stuff in some, no code platforms and then leveraging Firebase as well. You can leverage like Google's platforms for basically whatever languages you're using or not even really a language I get, no code writes his own code, but like, what I mean? Like you don't, it doesn't always have to be a language. You can use no code with your infrastructure, and I'm sure you have a ton of people using that.
Ryan Kiskis: We've got, I mean, you, you can go like pure no-code and that's on like, honestly, a very common starting point for, your napkin idea, right? Like what's the fastest way I can get someone who I don't even have to worry about it. I want to, I want to put an MVP of this in front of customers this week. Right. How quickly can I make that happen and validate onto something? I will say one of the things I am I'm excited about is the potential overall move to very serverless environments. Right? I want to write in Python, I wanna write in node, I want to write.net because that's what my audio OEM like, is using. I can write in that. I can, again, set some of those framework. What type of infrastructure do I want? Like, how fast do I need it to go? Give me the, the parameters that I want to operate in that will also, help me keep, say my scale and all my costs under control, drop my code in there.
Ryan Kiskis: Here's how I call it. We will spool up the infrastructure to, to, as in, when you call it and as in, when it's needed. As soon as that code has done running slow down again, we built, we build that, I think build the nearest a hundred millisecond billing increments. So, you are, you need something for on the order of a few million milliseconds, like, do that, turn it on, shut it down. There's a, there's a, like I pretend, and there's some great opportunities to that. That obviously it's a bit of a new way to think about architecture and developing that folks are building on adapting to, but we see a lot like this. The exciting thing about startups for me is that every single day there are hundreds, if not thousands of startups being created around the world and every single one of them, we're making a new architecture decision.
Ryan Kiskis: And, a lot of them were considered like, Hey, what's the best practice. What's the cutting edge right now. I'm not beholden by any legacy, legacy code base that I need to work with. Maybe I didn't want to go fully serverless and, and see how that works for me. I think you're going to see a lot of shifts of how people are building, over the coming years.
Kevin Horek: Nope. That makes a lot of sense. I think it's a good time to talk about where do you see the startup ecosystem today, and maybe long-term because if you read the news, it's pretty doom and gloom. I don't think it's that bad, but what are your thoughts or what are you seeing?
Ryan Kiskis: There's a lot of uncertainty. There's a lot of nervousness right now, obviously. This is, I will say from my perspective, honestly, feel, it feels very similar to the, 2007, 2008 financial crisis. That was, I founded my company in 2007. I had the Sequoia rip deck being forwarded to me on a daily basis in that time. It, it did not feel good. I don't want to trivialize it. I don't wanna make it seem like it's not going to be painful. Like it's not going to be hard, but I will say, people adapt also the , you can, you can adapt your mentality environment and like fairly quickly. I actually believe these moments, these points in time are actually, but not only in the grand scheme of that, say six and a half years of the, the time to exit of a, there a piece of it, their point of it, there also, fairly intense crucible that can really help you position your business for better, longer term success.
Ryan Kiskis: There are hard decisions that I know founders are going to see our customers having to make now about, it is painful to have to let the chunkier team go, right. That always the, and it should be. That is, that is the stuff that really matters and impact in someone's life. Those hard decisions, are they the ones that if I can operate more leanly, if I can operate more efficiently, operate more quickly, how is that going to help me be successful as a business over the long run and expose the ways where I need to strengthen my processes, strengthen my products, strengthen my team in a way that maybe when things were just easier, just wasn't there and then it doesn't get exposed. Doesn't show up until it's repaid until it's really painful to, to make that change. So, I think that, these, obviously these cycles, they will come and go.
Ryan Kiskis: I think you see, there were tons of startup poster, child customers that, emerged in 2008, 2007, 2008 crisis that, some of the recent con like doing some work around one of our major customers, mixed panel Dialpad, open X, all these folks were founded, right. In the heart of like a lot of this crisis going on and they've gone on to become incredibly successful. You can find the ways to navigate through this right now and honestly take advantage of some of those, the opportunities that exist. I think that there is still that fantastic opportunity for success. I, and I would actually argue where the ecosystem is now. There's a lot of things that have shifted, changed maxi, much easier to start a startup. And yeah. So, yeah.
Kevin Horek: Well, and I think, but just to your point, is it's the time now to reach out to, the Google cloud startup program and try to get some credits, right. Whether I've been around for a while, or I've been, I'm just starting out and if I can build something as quick, as fast as possible and leverage, what, something like Google cloud to help me do that, to get through the next few years. If I'm pretty lean about it, I might be able to come out the other side with a pretty good business. Right.
Ryan Kiskis: I mean, absolutely. I will like talk to us about cost optimization, right? I mean, you can go on you and talk you on hacker news. Like I probably once a week, there's a great story. If someone puts out like, Hey, how did I save X thousand tens of thousands, a hundred thousand dollars by making one shift in my architecture. Right? Like I, I spent some time, I figured out how I could optimize. It saved me a huge amount of money when it was when I could get a, a $50 million series eCheck pretty readily. Maybe I didn't worry about that too much. Right. You know, it just, it was easy. There's of a different shift, of different mentality to think about now, but those opportunities still exist. I guarantee you that the vast majority of startups can be much more cost efficient than they probably currently are being.
Ryan Kiskis: And, and I kinda like, we've got the teams, got the experts to be able help with that. So, those folks who jumped through that, I will say it is a big about like, why I think it's interesting as well right now is that, I think that certainly probably a decade ago, it's never going to be easy to work with a very large enterprise customer, large enterprise partner. They have big organizations, big stakeholders, processes, et cetera. I do see larger enterprises getting a lot better at how to do innovation internally and how they want to bring innovation into their businesses. Not always that makes it harder for someone to start ups in some ways, right? Like we can't, maybe you can't innovate as fast when, if you're in a FinTech startup by the financial services thing, I think ample area for still development in disruption. If you actually see the major banks legitimately interested in trying to push forward, some of the new customer experiences that does make it harder, but it also makes them easier and more interested in working with startups.
Ryan Kiskis: Right. It makes them having, they want to stand up their own innovation and startup ecosystem, engagement group, those channels and opportunities exist. I think they're looking at, I see it as like, we've seen our large enterprise customers hungry for how can we work better with the startup community and those folks who are setting themselves up for success over the next decade, those opportunities exist. And, and those are the opportunities that are, can you continue to be there? I imagine for the very long foreseeable future,
Kevin Horek: No, I couldn't agree with you more. I also think, and I want to get your thoughts on this is some of the older, less sexier industries are totally ripe for technology and startup ideas and new ideas to move in. What I mean by those industries is like accounting, legal, most, a lot of, more maybe blue collar type industries. They're just crying for technology right now. And sure. You don't want to build a app for an accountant or something, but you could build a really good business if you can build, cut out a little niche in that market or one of the other markets, right? Yeah.
Ryan Kiskis: What are some of the, I'd say mostly interesting to me and someone that some of the most fun startups are those that are looking at a, a space that just didn't move as quickly as possible to try and to bring some of innovation, a whole variety of forms to their customer and innovation around customer experience, innovation around product innovation, around pricing innovation, just like internal processes. How quickly can you move? You know, we've obviously seen that, right? Like I just got like last five years in particular. I mean, even decade really it's really been that so many great companies have been formed that are just trying to bring a technology enabled approach to a particular business space. Some of those, I just said, there they are incredibly niche, but some of those are the most interesting in those exciting, most successful ones. So, and I think that while certainly that the trend is that way.
Ryan Kiskis: Certainly we see more startups be successful in that way. A huge, those opportunities still exist. There every single day we're still looking at, Hey, where's a particular space that just hasn't gotten there yet. It needs a potentially, fresh start new company to think about if I was going to build this from the ground up from a customer experience perspective, from a product perspective, from a delivery perspective, bringing that overall attitude to whatever business area it is, I think we'll be continue to be a really ripe opportunity for startups.
Kevin Horek: No, a hundred percent agree. I think, well, I guess, do you have any advice for anybody listening that maybe hasn't thought of that idea yet and how they could maybe come up with that idea because you've been on multiple sides of this problem?
Ryan Kiskis: Yeah. The thing I would say is this is not a specialty novel. Sure. I'm not the first person in your 500 plus episodes that has said something very similar, but take a look at what pain you're experiencing in your day to day, what Burks you, right? Like what are you not able to find? Whether that's as it as a person, as a consumer, consumer product that you may want to go after, is there a particular store, or retail outlet that you're just not having a great experience with you can't find, go and look at that. Are you someone who is, frustrated in your job, day-to-day, you don't have the right tools to do your job that you think, Hey, if this existed, maybe my company would use it. Sure, sure. Make my life easier. Take a look at those pain points. Those are often the most, the places where there is that ripe opportunity to look into it and also to build businesses.
Ryan Kiskis: Also to bring that direct connection to it, your own passion, enthusiasm for it, right? I mean, this startup success rates, they're still incredibly small as it gets easier to build startups. Yes. It's easier to find capital minimums, but like it's still incredibly difficult to build a very successful startup. You can't just be in it because you think there's, oh, this was a cool opportunity right now. You're going to face, you're going to face incredibly hard hurdles, really tough decisions, painful decisions along the way, painful privatizations of what you want to do and don't do. What gets you through that is when you have the actual underlying passion for what you're doing, you've experienced that pain yourself. So, I mean, that's why I say like, come back. What are you experiencing now? What Burks you? What does hurt you maybe for a period of time that, you feel like, Hey, I actually really want to solve this problem and make the world better because of it.
Ryan Kiskis: I know, and I'll say the, the next step of that though, is also do your research, right? Because I will say there are so many, there are there, when there is an idea, there is a space you're probably not the only one thinking about it. Now that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Like, there's ample room for competition in particular areas, but, be thoughtful about how you're really going to solve this better than anyone else that might be out there right now. Maybe it's totally Greenfield. Maybe there's no one there and fantastic that like, go and go fast, but just do your research well about what you're getting into as well.
Kevin Horek: Sure. Well, and I also think just even asking your family and friends, the same questions about, is there a pain point it's like, I've come up with lots of ideas just by talking to other people right. About it.
Ryan Kiskis: I've also come up with lots of ideas that I've talked to, the people that, and they're like, that's a terrible idea. Right. I was like, but I guarantee this is it. This is the one I feel so good about it. And, and when 10 people tell you, like start asking some really good questions, you're like, huh, maybe I shouldn't say,
Kevin Horek: It's a hell of a lot better to get those answers before any line of code is written than when you spend six months or a year working on something.
Ryan Kiskis: Also just tell me about your, kind of the current environment. One of the things as well, like one of the things I've been, I've talked to entrepreneurs all day long. One of the things we're hearing as well is that, this is a particularly difficult time. If you're, if you're a series B series C series D startup, you maybe had an incredibly high valuations, you've raised a lot of money. You've hired a lot of people and it's it'd be very difficult to pivot and you maybe have to make some hard decisions around, am I willing to do a flat round or a down round to be able to keep going? I think earlier stage, and these are the investors you've gotta be thinking of Ross that, six, seven year timeline, right? They're thinking like, yes, this is, this is not great right now, but I've also gotta be thinking long-term on this.
Ryan Kiskis: Those investors are still investing, they're asking harder questions. Right. That as a founder, these, these questions, the questions I had answered other, there are a hell of a lot harder than what I had to answer like in my last startup two years ago. Right. If you can get, if you can get those answers, you're just going to be such a better place. You guys, the well and convinced the others to come along with you, whether it's your back is limited, it's such a better place for the future.
Kevin Horek: No, a hundred percent. Well, and the other thing too is maybe you don't need to raise money right now. Maybe you can bootstrap it longer, or you could do some contract work or some, consulting work part-time to like, get your startup along a little further. Like there's so many ways that you can do this to kind of keep it going, right. No.
Ryan Kiskis: Yeah. Like we, it's one of the reasons we definitely wanted to get our, our core offering for the bootstrap stock startups off, out there and invisible, particularly in this environment, which is that a, we think there's still a huge amount of opportunity to get started right now. It might be tougher to raise. You might have to be creative. You might have to figure out how I can sell an interim product or sell something to my customers, to get through this current time period. I'd be exactly where I want to go. In ethics and hard prioritization decisions, but, do that, get through this point more on your own. You're in the luxury position of having the VCs, not gunners. They have really liked to give you money. You were like, I don't know if I need it. So.
Kevin Horek: Yeah. Oh a hundred percent. But sadly we're out of time. How about we close with mentioning where people can get more information about Google cloud, any other links you want to mention? Yeah, let's close out the show like that.
Ryan Kiskis: Proud.google.com/startup, sticking it, know, stick Google cloud for startups and do buy into the, into Google. And you will find it that way. There's all the information on how to get started. Simple form to fill out. Give us, give us your meeting domain. What are you up to? What are you trying to achieve? And you'll be connected into our teams.
Kevin Horek: Perfect Ryan. Well, I really appreciate you taking the time of your day to be on the show and I look forward to keeping in touch with you and have a good rest of your day.
Ryan Kiskis: Awesome. It's a great conversation. Great to meet you, Kevin,
Kevin Horek: You as well. Thank you. Okay, bye.
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