We talked to Peter Simeonov about how Smart Migrator is the world’s first fully automated cloud migration platform, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Peter Simeonov: My family and I are doing well and keeping safe. We had a challenging period when the schools were closed, and all of us were at home during the day. We have an 8-year-old son, and it was a bit tricky teaching him, keeping him entertained, and working at the same time, but we managed.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Smart Migrator?
Peter Simeonov: I co-founded Smart Migrator last year, though it has been in the making since 2018. My co-founder, who is also my cousin, is one of the leading cloud migration experts in Europe. He pitched the idea to me two years ago, and here we are today. Previous to that, I was involved in sectors such as property investment and development, cleantech, automotive aftermarket, and management consulting. This experience developed my expertise in effective business development. I am an entrepreneur, deeply passionate about technology, and positively impacting all people and businesses’ lives. You can read my blog post to find out more about my history and what keeps me excited every day.
How does Smart Migrator innovate?
Peter Simeonov: We are a London-based startup with an exceptional team of leading global cloud migration experts who have been delivering complex transformations for the last 13 years. We believe it is time to make the journey to the Cloud simple, fast, and affordable for all businesses. This is why we are building the World’s 1st fully automated cloud migration platform. Through it, we are solving the two biggest challenges to cloud adoption – high cost and complexity. You can see our demo video to appreciate how easy we are making the process for companies.
The market is dominated by huge consultancies that serve large enterprise organizations. Their services are well beyond the reach of SMEs due to the very high cost. Today, cloud migration is still a largely manual and labor-intensive process. When you consider a significant shortage of capable migration specialists with experience, the challenge is severe even for the big players. We are set to disrupt this legacy way of working big time. We are building the first fully automated solution worldwide that makes the process simple and affordable to companies of any size, reducing the human-dependency and virtually eliminating human error risks.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Peter Simeonov: It has been a mixture of ups and downs. In April this year, we launched our first platform version, which most people consider as MVP. We call it MLP (minimum lovable product) as it is much more than a typical MVP. It looks reasonably good and works. It automatically migrates servers to AWS, albeit with some limitations. We started fundraising in the spring and struggled as virtually all angels and VCs stopped investing during the first lockdown. Thankfully this has changed since then, and we are now attracting a lot of interest.
We also found it hard to find early adopter customers. It’s easy to sell a new SaaS app that costs $10-20 per user. This is not the case for a solution like ours related to a critical strategic transformation and costs many thousands. Most companies have been restricting most major spending during the current crisis. This is only temporary, of course, as cloud computing is on the top of most companies’ agenda.
On a positive note, we have developed fantastic partnerships with AWS, Oracle, and many other IT service providers. Our growth strategy focuses on channel partnerships, and early indications show we are on the right track. We have potential projects in the pipeline from multiple partners. Also, senior IT leaders have been continuously stressing the importance of cloud computing for future-proofing operations. So, there is a greater awareness of the need for cloud computing now than ever before.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Peter Simeonov: Of course. There are always challenges, and many decisions involve trade-offs. As with most bootstrapped startups, it is all about making the most on a tight budget during these challenging times. An important lesson I have learned over the years is to rely on my team. Business is a team game, and multiple brains working together yields outstanding results. Sometimes the best ideas, leading to better decisions, come from the least expected sources.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Peter Simeonov: Breaking the routine with outdoor walks and cycling has been vital to balance the long hours working from home. I also love music and learning piano. Even taking a 20-min break from work to play gives me a vast relaxing boost.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Peter Simeonov: There aren’t any companies, to our knowledge, who are doing anything remotely similar to us. On a broader scale, our competitors are primarily managed migration consultancies. The dominant names include Accenture, Deloitte, DXC Technology, Atos, Cognizant, and many others. They all serve large enterprise-scale companies. Some are working on automation, though none have fully automated the process yet. Their tools are complex and aimed at large enterprise projects. We have a very different positioning as we are building a fully automated platform, mainly targeting SMEs. It is simple and can be used by the end customer to complete the migration in-house using only basic IT skills. Research shows that most companies prefer to do things in-house if they have the right tools and capabilities. We enable precisely this with our platform. We consider managed migration consultancies as future partners rather than competitors. They will equally benefit from our platform as it will boost profitability and reduce the pain of struggling to find capable migration talent – their biggest challenge.
We also have a clear strategy for the future. We have a powerful IP with multiple patents pending. We are the first solution of its kind worldwide, and being first is a critical advantage. Are we going to have copycats in the future? Absolutely, though this requires multiple sets of very advanced IT skills that are not easy to find. What will keep us ahead of the competition is lightning fast innovation, scaling rapidly, and attracting the best global minds.
Your final thoughts?
Peter Simeonov: The coronavirus pandemic has caught many people off-guard. It has shown why companies must be agile and innovate fast. The World is changing, and you never know what can happen tomorrow. It is essential to evolve and take action every day with the future in mind. What can you do to improve operational efficiency, product and market development, innovation, customer success, and much more? I fully believe in lean development and market-led innovation. In other words, future innovation should be driven by customer research and feedback and market trends, rather than internal perceptions and opinions, which can often be wrong.
Companies should focus on customer success and unite it with marketing and sales. These should work as one effective unit – what many regard as revenue operations. There are many great products on the market that are plagued by poor customer service. These companies won’t last unless they change this. People should not be complacent and think that the situation can’t change because their businesses are doing great today. It can and it will if they don’t evolve. Nokia was the king of the mobile phone market years ago. Look where it is today. Those who ride the wave of innovation, act fast, and are customer-obsessed and driven, will be the winners of tomorrow and have a competitive advantage.