Hello, Cloud Newbies! Welcome “Hello, Cloud Newbies!” a blog interviewing Cloud Professionals from all around the world doing cool things to see what kinds of careers are available when you work with or in Cloud Computing!
Today, we talked to Tony Chan, who is the CEO (and self-proclaimed Janitor) at CloudForecast!
If you’re considering a career in the Cloud, or looking for a place to study for certifications, talk to fellow cloud-nerds, and help Cloud Newbies get started in the Cloud, please come join us at Cloud Newbies Society! We’re a Cloud Platform Agnostic, which means everyone’s welcome, no matter what type of Cloud Computing platform they’re interested in! ☁️
Now, without further ado…. Let’s hear Tony‘s story!
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Hey, Tony. So, where do you work?
I work at CloudForecast. We operate in the AWS cost monitoring world.
How long have you been doing that job?
Exactly one year this month.
What do you do for your job? Can you describe it to me in a way my 85 year old grandma can understand?
I execute everything on the business side for CloudForecast. My technical co-founder, Francois, likes to tell me that I am the “face of the company”. I am not sure if that’s a good thing or not! Anything that doesn’t touch code, I take care of, as a non-technical co-founder.
My main role is a customer facing role with me talking to our customers and potential customers all day long via email or phone calls. My goal is to make sure our customers are well taken care of and we’re getting the immediate feedback on our product to improve what we have.
Outside of that, I try to take care of everything from marketing, accounting, finance, sales and any misc legal items. I do whatever is required of me to keep CloudForecast running on the business side and as a company.
What’s your educational and career backgrounds?
My educational background is a business marketing degree at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to CloudForecast, I was the Sr. Director of Customer Success at an ad-tech company for 7 years. That’s where I met my technical co-founder, Francois, as a very early employee.
Where are you based? Is your job remote or onsite?
We’re a completely remote company! I am based in Chicago and Francois is based in San Francisco. I try to visit Francois in San Francisco as much as possible to have some face time with him.
What’s an interesting fact about yourself?
I am heavily involved in my local Chicago Chinatown community through a variation of volleyball called Chinese 9man volleyball. This unique variation of volleyball has been around since the 1930’s and has been used to socially connect with fellow laborers across Chinatowns in North America.
There hasn’t been a team in Chicago in over 50 years, but I had the opportunity to start one 3 years ago. Here are two great videos that highlight what Chinese 9man is:
Wow! I’ve never heard of this before! These are wild!
Which Cloud Platform(s) do you work with? How many years?
The cloud platform we’re focused on is Amazon Web Services. I have been working on AWS officially full-time for a year this month!
Do you have any certifications?
No certifications but my goal for 2020 is to get my cloud practitioner certification.
Hehehe. Well, I can help with that 😉
Did the certifications help you get your current or past jobs?
None. Everything I have is self taught.
What got you interested in the Cloud?
This was a pretty natural progression for me since our product, CloudForecast, services companies that leverage Amazon Web Services.
Since I have to talk to Customers and prospective customers, I need to be somewhat knowledgeable or have a basic understanding of the “Cloud” to help service them better and understand their needs. I’ve always been interested in technology and development of technology, so this became a natural interest for me as we continued to build out CloudForecast.
How do you use Cloud Computing in your day to day?
My usage of AWS as a non-technical co-founder is relatively simple since I don’t touch code or deployment. The most I get to do is deploy any changes to our marketing website or update new blog post with our AWS environment.
So you’re a tech startup co-founder. How did that come to happen?
Francois and I worked together previous in the early stages of an YCombinator ad-tech startup. Solving the cost monitoring problem came about when Francois had to report and monitor cost for his day to day to our CTO. Through his research, he was unable to find a solution to fit his needs as a growing startup / mid-market sized company.
What’s your startup, and what does it do? Who is it for?
We’re building a SaaS product that helps startups & mid-market sized companies monitor and optimize their AWS cost with easy to understand reports that can be delivered to engineering teams directly.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a startup co-founder?
Taking something from nothing and growing into a full fledged company is SUPER challenging. You are essentially trying to build something people actually want and helps solve a problem in their daily operations.
It’s difficult and challenging to figure out where to prioritize your time and make decisions with very limited data points. More often than not, decisions are made based on gut feeling.
Being resilient and knowing how to learn from rejection over and over again in different capacities. There are countless rejections we’ve faced since we started the company over the past year. It takes a special kind of person to constantly take in those rejections over and over again, disseminate the reasons why and learn from it. You really have to have thick skin and a bit of humility to get rejected over and over and over again and see the silver lining.
Patience. I am a naturally impatient person and love to be in control of all things. These two things go hand in hand. However, anyone doing a startup will come to realize very quickly that you cannot control 95% of the things you run into, which leads to a lot of impatience and anxiety if things are not going to the way you are expecting.
Does your startup run on Cloud Computing? If so, what platforms does it use?
Yes! We leverage Amazon Web Services for CloudForecast.
Darn, I thought it would’ve been funny if you guys were on Google Cloud or something… 😛
What are the benefits of utilizing Cloud Computing as opposed to legacy IT infrastructure for your company?
I can’t imagine starting this company 10+ years ago with legacy IT infrastructure for our company. This would pretty be near impossible. The level of speed and product development with cloud computing is unparalleled today.
Also, the level of adoption and growth of Cloud computing (specifically AWS) has carved out a nice little niche market for us to solve problems for with CloudForecast. Without this growth, we would not have this very problem of cost monitoring to help solve.
What do you wish you knew before you became a founder of a tech startup?
Being okay with your weaknesses and being okay with areas where you are not strong suit as a founder. I think part of it is cultural as an Asian American for me growing up. I was taught from a young age that I needed to be perfect/awesome at everything thrown at you. Failure is not an option. I am starting to learn how to cope with that and understand where some of these personal feelings are coming from.
I tried to “boil the ocean” and tried to do everything myself early on. However, that’s probably not the best use of my time since some of the things I probably don’t enjoy, or maybe not the best use of my time. I am beginning to learn how to let go of things that I have identified that I am not strong in, and hire/learn from people that are smarter than me to help with some of those areas.
Hello, Cloud Newbies!
What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started working with Cloud Computing?
Where to focus on with resources with learning and growth if you are new to Cloud Computer. There are so many different certifications, online resources, newsletter, etc., it’s difficult to figure out which one to focus on. It’s a bit overwhelming honestly!
What are your favorite resources to learn about the Cloud?
There are a few resources that I have been leveraging to learn about the Cloud:
- Corey Quinn’s Last Week in AWS Newsletter
- This is a new one, I discovered recently: Easy AWS
- Hiro and Kyle‘s resources are solid
- Cloud Practitioner study materials via A Cloud Guru
What advice can you give to someone who is considering learning about Cloud Computing to begin a career in the Cloud?
If you know absolutely nothing, I would start with a quick simple google search on Cloud Computing and what it is. Google searches are your best friend 🙂
From there, if AWS is the environment you want to focus on, start with the Cloud Practitioner certification via AWS and leverage the study materials from A Cloud Guru. To further supplement your learning, leverage Hiro’s and Kyle’s resources:
Don’t hesitate to ask dumb questions as well! I ask Francois dumb questions about AWS all the time and he is always willing to explain concepts to me.
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And that’s a wrap for our first Founder/CEO featured at Hello, Cloud Newbies! It’s so cool to hear from fellow founders (though obviously Tony and Francois are 100000 steps ahead of me)!
Now, if you want to learn more about Tony and potentially chat with him, you can find him on Twitter!
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