August 17, 2023: Build the best data infrastructure

Has this industry seen it's time? The company helping you build better data infrastucture for your business, and some great reads from the week

Profile: How Shakudo is helping you build a better data infrastructure for your business

What is Shakudo?

Shakudo is an operating system for the data stack. Our mission is to enable companies to build the best data infrastructure for their needs.

With Shakudo, data teams can mix and match their data tools to create a more reliable, performant, and cost-effective stack. This allows our customers to focus their time and resources on building data products, rather than on data stack maintenance.

What was the insight/inspiration that led you to launch it?

With extensive experience in the AI space, we have noticed that data science teams often have great ideas that never make it into production due to a lack of DevOps engineering resources available to support their activities. We conducted additional market research and identified that this is a widespread problem across a broad range of companies and industries.

How has it been received by the market? Why do you think it has been so well received?

The market response has exceeded our expectations thus far! Typically, our customers begin using the Shakudo platform to successfully solve a specific and complex use case, but then quickly expand their usage as the platform offers a significant amount of flexibility. Furthermore, it drives tangible and substantial cost reductions, which is especially critical at this time as companies seek to continuously evolve their data stack in a resource-constrained environment.

How did you know you were ready to found a company?

We recognized a genuine need for our product and wanted to help other companies in managing the complexities of modern data stacks. Additionally, we had confidence in our co-founding team and were ready to take this leap of faith together!

How did you meet your founders/know they were the right people to start a company with?

We have previously worked together on AI teams in a couple of companies within the Canadian financial sector. We knew that this was the right group of people to start a company with because we brought forward different ideas but shared a common vision for the product and a drive to build it. We also had a lot of trust in each other as we worked very closely together for years prior to launching Shakudo and navigated some challenging situations as a team.

This gave us the confidence that we could start a company!

Co-Founders (left to right): Yevgeniy Vahlis, Christine Yuen, Stella Wu

What has been the hardest thing on your journey so far?

Since we started Shakudo, we've faced and overcome many challenges.

One of the most significant has been finding and hiring the right people to join our team. As we continue to scale and grow the business, this will remain a top priority.

“Working at a startup can be incredibly rewarding, but it's also extremely challenging. It requires the right mentality and commitment from everyone involved.”

Fortunately, we’ve been able to bring in some incredible talent to the team. We're also lucky to have an amazing group of advisers whom we've relied on for guidance throughout our journey.

What has been the most pleasant surprise?

One of the most pleasant surprises has been the positive reception our product has received from customers.

Our customers typically sign up for Shakudo with a specific use case, and sometimes a data stack in mind. As they utilize the platform, they expand their use cases, achieving tangible benefits and optimizing their costs. They also consistently provide ideas for new features and functions, which we incorporate into our product roadmap. This has enabled us to form true partnerships with our customers!

What is your super strength?

Our super strength is our commitment and ability to get things done.

Whether it's a small but critical administrative task or a large and complex product enhancement, our co-founding team is eager to jump into any challenge and resolve it.

What are you trying to achieve over the next 12 months?

The foundation for the business is now established. The primary focus for the next 12 months is building out the team.

We aim to recruit more engineers to improve our product and tackle our customers' most difficult data stack challenges. We also plan to expand our sales team to grow the business and establish an operations function to scale it.

Who are the Canadian startups you like in your market?

  • Noze - disease diagnostics through smell

  • Forma.AI - the first sales compensation program removing the guesswork of motivating sales teams

  • Wombo - the world's best ai-powered lip sync app

  • Mobius AI - making creative expression universally fun

Quick Take: Fading into the Digital Sunset

Virtual event platforms fizzle out in 2023

What is the news?

Toronto-based EventMobi acquired Run The World for an undisclosed amount.

In related news, Hopin sold its virtual conference platform to RingCentral for $15m and is now focusing on its StreamYard product.

Vancouver-based StreamYard was acquired by Hopin in 2021.

Why did EventMobi acquire Run The World?

This seems to be both an acquisition to expand product offerings and potentially acquire customers. Run The World is a platform built for online/virtual conferences that boomed during Covid.

EventMobi is an event management software provider and the Run The World acquisition allows them to expand their product suite to offer a one-stop solution for all types of event formats online, offline or hybrid.

In addition, Run The World's customers will be transitioned onto the EventMobi platform.

What is unique about this deal?

We have a Canadian start-up acquiring a US start-up. This is no longer unique but we love it when Canadian companies are doing the buying.

What is more unique is that the buyer is a bootstrapped company while the acquired company was a VC company backed by big-name VCs including Founders Fund and a16z. Our guess is that the undisclosed amount paid was paid in cash and was relatively little considering that Hopin sold its core business for $15m USD.

What happened to the online event platforms?

Online event platforms appeared to have all the potential in the world in 2020. Very few platforms were on the market, they were all relatively new and lockdowns forced corporates and consumers to move events online. It appeared that these companies would see revenues grow and cash would soon flow.

Now we are in mid-2023 and a few things have become apparent:

  • People rather meet in real life than attend events online. Online events are still happening at a much higher rate than in 2019 but at a lower rate than in 2020. This means that fast-growing start-ups have seen revenues shrink despite scaling up teams and expenses. They were most likely burning significant capital with no clear path to cash flow positive.

  • It appears that there is little moat for these platforms either in technology or network effects. This means that more and more companies have entered the space pushing pricing down and making it hard to scale.

This has pushed valuations down and made it impossible for these companies to raise additional capital and remain independent.

What are the lessons for our community?

Not every rocket ship will make it to space. Momentum has to be sustainable and the company has to develop a moat that allows it to have cash flow.

Opportunities arise for companies that are well-positioned. EventMobi has bootstrapped and built a solid business over 10+ years. I imagine it has strong client relationships and a strong balance sheet. It avoided over-investing in the online events space and now took advantage of a shifting landscape to expand its platform and acquire customers.

Reads & Opportunities

A playbook for writing better B2B content

A halftime update for AI

What it takes to build a strong ecosystem

A great explanation of how AI may actually impact jobs

Join our profile company in this exciting role

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