The startup’s (budget) guide to ‘Always-on iT’: Don’t let downtime kill your startup’s growth

By Editor June 6, 2016

Ransomware. Data Breaches. Hardware/Application Infrastructure Failure. Human error. All of these threats can bring your growing business to a halt and kill your startup’s growth. So while you’ve got your hands full with building your product, user acquisition, marketing, growing your team, customer support, sales and a million other things, it’s critical you also take steps to make sure downtime can’t impact your business.

A Startup CEO’s Worst Downtime Nightmare Come True

Alex Turnbull, CEO and founder of Groove (a customer service SaaS startup) candidly shared his downtime experience in what he called “The meltdown that brought our startup to its knees for 15 hours.” A server was mistakenly taken down and since the terminated server was their master database, their software went down and customers couldn’t access their help desk. It gets worse. His team needed to rebuild the entire cluster, which would take hours. Turnbull said: “The outage had been going on for the entire night, and our customers on the other side of the globe had been dealing with it for an entire business day without so much as a peep from us.” As you can imagine, customers were furious (and it’s probably fairly safe to assume that there were cancellations).

Groove’s experience is a cautionary tale that should be heeded by every startup CEO. The downtime threat is real and retribution is swift. Going beyond business costs, Turnbull sums up the big picture (and emotional) impact in this ‘truth bomb’:

“There are few things worse than working your ass off for years to build a business, hustling every chance that you get, and running head on into a disaster that’s out of your control and threatens to undo your dreams.”

Why Is Downtime the Kiss Of Death For Startups?

Two words: Trust and competition. While you may have a killer product, your startup lacks the credibility of more established companies. So, if you experience a big data loss or can’t bring your business back online after a disaster (i.e. hardware failure), your chances of business survival plummet. Your customers will lose confidence and your competitors will be there to steal them away. What’sApp learned this lesson the hard way when a downtime event resulted in 4 million customers abandoning their app for a competitor. Ouch.

Will you survive? Probably. Will it stunt your momentum, in terms of revenue, growth, and brand value? Absolutely. And as a startup, those are breaks you just can’t afford.

How Startups Can Have Affordable Recoverable IT Systems

As a startup, we’re fairly confident you are employing a cloud-first strategy for all of the infrastructure you build your product on and software tools your employees use. And now there are new, affordable cloud-backed disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions that you can easily integrate into your cloud ecosystem to minimize business risk from downtime.

DRaaS allows you to instantly run your systems and applications in the cloud when events like server failure or natural disasters occur. No need to invest in a second site or extra IT resources. No six-figure price tag. Just near-zero downtime for your data, applications, and IT infrastructure, consolidated in one single on-demand backup and disaster recovery platform that will grow with your business.

The best part is that these new DRaaS solutions are pay-as-you-go, so you are only paying for what you are currently using. It’s the cheapest form of insurance you can have for your business. As a startup CEO you will always have 99 problems, but with DRaaS, downtime isn’t one of them.