Melbourne-founded on-demand cloud training software A Cloud Guru has raised $US7 million ($8.7 million) in Series A funding, which it says it will use to further expand its training programs and bolster its market position in the US.
The funding comes from Boston-based Elephant Venture Capital, which is led by Warby Parker co-founder Andy Hunt, and Jeremiah Daly, formerly of Accel Partners.
A Cloud Guru was founded in 2015 by Australian brothers Ryan and Sam Kroonenburg from their bedrooms in London and Melbourne, respectively. In the time since, it has offered its online training courses for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to more than 250,000 students in 160 countries across six continents to date, and secured corporate customers like Expedia, Capital One and Xero.
Co-founder Sam Kroonenburg says finding the right investors who had a solid entrepreneurial skillset was crucial to securing the funding.
“I have a lot of respect for people who have founded their own businesses and have done the hard yards themselves. I really appreciate the advice [they will contribute],” Kroonenburg tells StartupSmart.
Headquartered in London, A Cloud Guru bills itself as the world’s first entirely server-less startup and is seeking to disrupt the cloud computing sector by providing on-demand online training starting at $19 in a market where alternative AWS training options can cost upwards of $2,000, according to the company.
A Cloud Guru says it will use the funding to expand its content offering to encompass all major cloud vendors, in addition to expanding its current Amazon Web Services training programs. It will also be introducing certification-prep courses for Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure, while expanding its training courses for Salesforce and Linux.
A Cloud Guru is also focused on continuing to ramp up its presence in the US, which accounts for 60% of its customer base, according to Kroonenburg, in addition to continuing to scale its Melbourne office where its software development team is located.
“We’re going to invest significantly there,” Kroonenburg says of the startup’s Melbourne branch.
Get the fundamentals right
Instead of actively seeking investment for A Cloud Guru’s first raise, Kroonenburg says the investors who led the Series A raise “found us”.
“Because the business was scaling and doing well we were approached by a range of investors,” he says, advising startups to “get the fundamentals of your business right” and have solid growth metrics to show investors when looking to raise.
Kroonenburg says high-profile investors were attracted to A Cloud Guru because it was “profitable from day one”, and had good traction and a proven, scaleable model.
“We had the fundamentals of our business [sorted] … people want to invest in high-growth companies with a good brand,” he says.
The co-founder advocates for startups to bootstrap their business in the early days so they can retain control of their product.
“We didn’t build our business with someone else’s money — we put a lot in to get to this point,” he says.
This put the startup “in a position where [we] could choose the right investor, rather than whoever we could get money off,” adds Kroonenburg, who stresses the importances of startups securing funding from strategic investors who can provide the right expertise and advice for the future.
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