AlleyWatch Interviews Cloud9 President Greg Kenepp
AlleyWatch, an organization focusing on the New York startup and technology landscape, recently sat down with Cloud9 President, Greg Kenepp, to speak about our recent funding, the strength of our executive leadership, and the future of Cloud9.
Highlights of the interview included Kenepp’s insight on the founding of Cloud9 as well as his views on the funding process:
What inspired you to start the company?
The co-founders of the company, including CEO, Jerry Starr; Chief Product Officer, Steve Kammerer; and CTO, Leo Papadopoulos, saw a clear need for a better communication solution in the trader voice space. Turrets, the legacy trader voice system, are a 40+ year old technology that lack a great deal of the functionality needed for a modern working environment. Workers are mobile, and teams, as well as business partners, are often geographically dispersed – businesses need to be able to effectively communicate and collaborate anywhere, at any time, in real-time.
With their knowledge of the industry, cloud services, and technology like WebRTC, they knew they could create a revolutionary solution that would be enterprise-ready, secure, mobile, and allow users to make connections in the industry.
How is it different?
Cloud9 is a truly disruptive technology compared to the legacy trader voice systems (turrets) that have become the status quo on trading floors. Cloud9 offers a communications solution that is up to 50% more affordable, has superior voice quality, and can be used anywhere there is an internet connection – all without compromising security or compliance requirements.
We also offer the Cloud9 Community, a directory that gives you the opportunity to make quick, easy connections with fellow users and expand business.
We’ve had customers tell us that they were able to expand the number of trading parties available to them using our community, which is certainly something that cannot be done with a traditional turret.
Tell us about the experience of the founders before creating Cloud9. Did this make a difference?
We have all worked together for many years in the industry and have been through numerous rounds of funding for previous companies, but something about this product and this opportunity just felt special. We knew we were creating a product that not only would change the way the financial services industry operates, but could also provide a foundation for changing how the world communicates. I knew immediately that I had to be a part of it.
What was the funding process like?
Our founders came from the industry, and we had skin in the game in terms of personal investment of money and time. We were also able to build a network of users quickly.
Our investors trusted us because we are also looking to create a disruptive technology and scale the company, we’re not about landing on magazine covers or creating a lifestyle around what we’re doing. We just want to make good products, and build a great company.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Patience is the biggest challenge any company is faced with during a capital raise. Even if you have the right investors lined up, it takes time to get through all of the details and get everything closed out.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
The most important thing any company can do is focus in building their business, and the rest will come. The worst thing you can do is chase an exit, or constantly react to your competitors.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Our investors are actually some of our biggest customers– they have tried our service and experienced the benefits firsthand on their balance sheets and have seen the positive impact on their traders’ workflow. ICAP is already using our service within its energy trading teams and J.P. Morgan will be implementing our solution across their trading desks globally. We’ve had a great collaborative relationship with Barclays as we develop the product for their unique needs.
In addition, our investors highly trust the expertise of our leadership team and have a great deal of confidence that we are building a team and a product that will truly revolutionize the way communications is thought about in the industry.
Want to learn more about Cloud9? Here’s a quick introduction to our platform.