Quin Eddy of OneCloud: “Attention to detail”

Attention to detail. As I mentioned earlier, I believe in sweating the small details. I think that’s so critical in everything that you do at a startup. Because if you make a misstep, you have no room for dissatisfaction and bad impressions. It will affect your brand and how people perceive you. And that attention […]

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Attention to detail. As I mentioned earlier, I believe in sweating the small details. I think that’s so critical in everything that you do at a startup. Because if you make a misstep, you have no room for dissatisfaction and bad impressions. It will affect your brand and how people perceive you. And that attention to detail must be maintained across the entire team to make sure that we provide a fully packaged service delivery that encompasses high quality documentation, training, customer success, support, follow-up, etc.

Startups have such a glamorous reputation. Companies like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Uber, and Airbnb once started as scrappy startups with huge dreams and huge obstacles. Yet we of course know that most startups don’t end up as success stories. What does a founder or a founding team need to know to create a highly successful startup?

In this series, called “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup” we are talking to experienced and successful founders and business leaders who can share stories from their experience about what it takes to create a highly successful startup.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Quin Eddy.

Serial entrepreneur Quin Eddy is the CEO of New York City-based OneCloud, Inc. (www.onecloud.io), a modern iPaaS technology company that delivers precise data for the connected enterprise. Eddy co-founded the privately held company in 2017 to provide intuitive, comprehensive integration, data transformation, and automation for a wide range of business-critical applications that reside on-premises and in the cloud. He previously founded Star Analytics, acquired by IBM in 2013, and led a 150-person technical team across 16 countries to realize its rapid integration into IBM’s Business Analytics Software Group.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve always had a strong appetite for working with my hands and piecing things together into practical solutions to mechanical problems. When I was in college, my friends called me “MacGyver” and “Ace is the Place” after the hardware store slogan. As an example, I installed an entire wet bar system to ensure the best beer flow at our college parties. Fast forward, in the past 15 years or so, in my own house, I have done a lot of plumbing, replacing sinks and toilets and so forth, always striving to make things better.

The reason I mention this is that I find fixing data integration challenges is very similar to plumbing. You need to be able to route data and fix broken connections just as you need to be able to route water and ensure the free-flow of beer. As you may appreciate, there are a lot of parallels between routing liquids through bathrooms, kitchens, and kegulators to cleansing, transforming, and mapping data among enterprise financial systems.

When I started my career at Citibank, I was able to take what I was doing in college and apply it to the challenges of my new job. In my role, I had to work on the internal plumbing of the applications between a mainframe and Excel, and perform all the month-end management reporting. So I devised a number of solutions, think macros, to automate these tasks, and integrate mainframe data with the presentation layer created in Excel and PowerPoint. Performing this task month in and month out can be very tedious so I’ve always looked for ways to do more with less, and be able to address problems in an automated and integrated fashion.

From Citibank, I joined a company called Arbor Software that eventually went public. During the five years I was there, I learned about the power of software and how the business model scales exponentially once the market speaks and you get traction. I saw how you can take and build something and package it and the scale at which you can actually build a company. And I finally realized that I wanted to take all this experience and package it into a product. But productization is not just about delivering a solution. You have to have training, and documentation, and support, and people.

Seeing how Arbor Software grew provided a valuable education for me. I eventually applied the knowledge I acquired through that experience to building my first company, Star Analytics. And then I applied the lessons I learned from Star Analytics to growing my next startup, OneCloud.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

The aha moment for my first startup company, Star Analytics, weaves into that of my second and current startup, OneCloud. The aha moment for Star Analytics was the concept of taking cube data stored in a proprietary format and putting it into a relational database. Seeing so many customers wanting to solve that same business problem over and over and over again, I had an aha moment when I realized I could package that into a software product.

After selling Star Analytics to IBM and spending a year-plus to oversee the integration, I became head of customer success for Anaplan, which provides a cloud-native platform for orchestrating business performance. In the time I spent there, I saw how many customers wanted to take their on-premises software applications and move those to the cloud. But the challenge was — and still is — the integration between different application sets. The problem is that buried beneath the surface of various legacy and modern finance applications is typically custom code, multiple versions of redundant scripts, multiple disjointed tools, and manual processes that jeopardize the key mandates of the modern-day CFO: consistency, accuracy, compliance, and fast turn-around of financial processes and data. So my aha moment that led to the founding of OneCloud is that we needed a technology solution that allowed that same constituent of users to be able to also manage their data integration, automation, and transformation. And so that was the thesis behind building OneCloud.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

Yes. As I mentioned above, I was the head of customer success for Anaplan when I had the idea that became the foundation for my current company, OneCloud. One of the co-founders of Anaplan, Doug Smith, is passionate about addressing data integration. I solicited his advice on my ideas for starting my own business, and he’s been a strong supporter. He’s now with Motive Partners, a specialist private equity firm focused on technology-enabled financial and business services. I still consider him a mentor.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think a real differentiator to the OneCloud story is that this is truly a software solution that can be owned by the business user. So if you know how to navigate Excel, you have enough knowledge and understanding to be able to navigate OneCloud. It offers the combination of being able not only to integrate data, but also to transform, map, and harmonize data in a single platform which then provides you with precise, accurate results. And why that’s important is that it empowers a broad constituent of business users to build teams of people that can actually own their data transformations and mappings, as well as being able to own their integrations. For example, PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company chose OneCloud as its unified data integration solution, leveraging OneCloud Integration Studio and OneCloud Data Prep to manage data flows from a single application. OneCloud has enabled PEMCO to save countless administration hours each month and sunset other point software solutions by managing all integration from a modern, easy-to-use interface, without needing to write any code to connect those different systems.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

This may sound self-serving, but my company, OneCloud, gives people back their time, and if there’s a lesson we’ve all learned from the last year, it’s that there is nothing more precious than time, especially family time. The reason we’re able to give back time to financial services teams is that they’re able to do more with less. Instead of resorting to manual operations, these people are able to integrate, transform, and automate data across the connected enterprise. We actually heard a customer say, “You gave me back my Labor Day weekend because I didn’t have to baby-sit data integration processes.” It reduces their anxiety and stress levels. We liked that idea so much that we even held a webinar with that theme, “getting back your holidays.”

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Persistence. My first startup had a bumpier path to success than my current company, OneCloud. There were some dark days. I’ve had so many people ask me, is it really worth it? Do you really want to do this? And you have to find that core grit inside yourself to be able to take that next step and fight the next battle. You may be down to your last dollar in the bank and panicking over how you’re going to make payroll, but you have to walk into the next meeting, head held high, and continue to push even if you know the cards are stacked against your success.
  2. Hyper-precision. It’s just as critical at a startup to pay attention to small details as it is at a bigger company, perhaps more so, as so much rides on your reputation. You don’t have a long history to fall back on. You may only have one chance to establish yourself. So it means long hours to make sure that the documentation is right. It means a flawless quality assurance process to ensure the product works. You cannot have untucked corners or edges that catch. My job as the CEO is to cultivate that culture of attention to detail, so that people continually improve their game and continue to give that 110 percent. That extra effort makes a small company look bigger and more established than it may really be, so you can do more with less.
  3. Fearlessness. If you’re going to be a software founder, unless you have super deep pockets and are personally able to bankroll the company, or you have venture capital out of the gate, you should be prepared to lower your lifestyle to the absolute bare minimum, to give yourself as much runway as possible. Otherwise, you may find yourself giving into the temptation to go for the easy (or easier) cash for side projects that distract you from your real goals. Don’t be afraid of living on the edge. As a result, you’ll find you become fearlessly creative in innovating new ways to grow the company. Although we’ve taken very little outside capital at OneCloud, we’ve been able to grow a thriving company. Perhaps we could have accelerated faster with more outside financial resources, but now we’re on a firm footing and have been able to remain an owner-led company.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

As a small company, you need to be able to define who you are very, very quickly. Once you’ve done a good job of defining who you are, it can take an enormous amount of time and effort to recast yourself or reinvent yourself and have people understand who you are.

For example, in the early days of OneCloud, I followed some advice to bootstrap the company’s engineering efforts and product development by offering consulting services. A consulting company in the enterprise technology space can do well financially, so you can mint money to make payroll, hire your developers and engineers, and so forth. But the downside is that this confuses the marketplace. When you’re ready to go to market with your product, then people say well, hold on, I don’t buy software from my consultant. It took us another year to 18 months to correct the confused impression that we’re a consulting company rather than what we are: an enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology company.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

At the first startup company I founded, Star Analytics, there was a time when we literally had one dollar in our bank account. Truly, one dollar. I had to tap a friend to help me personally fund the company to make payroll. But we found a path forward. I think a lot of startups have a similar story. We all depend on the kindness of strangers and the generosity of friends and family. I think it not only takes a village to raise a child, but to keep a startup going in its early stages, too!

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard? What strategies or techniques did you use to help overcome those challenges?

You know, at OneCloud, it’s been relatively smooth sailing. There was that year or so where we had some market confusion and very slow sales, but the last several quarters have picked up dramatically. That said, there have been times where we could only see three to four months of cash ahead of us. But the good part about that is that you learn to get really creative to rally around problems and become super-precise in your decisions to fix those problems. You have to be very aware of what you’re doing in order to continue to believe in what you do. And if you have that belief system, you can continue to move forward — and fast.

The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?

It circles back to what I mentioned earlier, about being persistent and believing in what you’re doing. You need to kickstart your journey with eyes wide open and acknowledge upfront that you’re going to have tremendous highs and also tremendous lows. And when you think your tank might be empty, you need to find some fumes on which to run your engine. You need to be an Olympic athlete, to continue to drive yourself beyond the point where most people would give up and rest. That’s what really differentiates a startup founder; the endurance and optimism that you’ll pull through and things will eventually get better.

I remember in the early days of OneCloud when we went six months without selling a single deal. We closed out the year with five customers. We started the new year with a little bit of an uptick, and then it just went to nothing. That was very disheartening. I had to convince my co-founders that this was a company that actually could hunt. I had to tap my persistence and unshakeable belief in the company’s long-term success to continue smiling at the rest of the team — which was very small then — and put on a happy face for our existing customers as well as our prospects and partners. I knew we were firing on all cylinders from a product perspective and from a current customer perspective, which was why I was confident we’d weather the storm. We just weren’t firing with sales. But eventually, the tide turned.

Let’s imagine that a young founder comes to you and asks your advice about whether venture capital or bootstrapping is best for them? What would you advise them? Can you kindly share a few things a founder should look at to determine if fundraising or bootstrapping is the right choice?

I’m a strong believer in OPM — Other People’s Money. You’ll have to be content with a smaller percentage of the company, but the company will be able to accelerate growth. So while you won’t have the whole pie, you’ll have a really big slice of a much larger pie, which can be more valuable. And if you have other parties invested, that will help drive mindshare, and that mindshare really helps scale your company more quickly and easily.

Securing outside funding is also a huge vote of confidence and provides market validation to accelerate your business even faster. Without it, you’re always hitting headwinds and questions about the sustainability of your business. Especially if you’re operating in the B2B software world, as OneCloud is, selling to large and well established companies, they need to know that we’re going to be around not just months, but years.

And fortunately, again, we’ve been able to build the company and build out our reserves relatively organically. We’ve taken in a small amount of capital to fuel our growth. So I would always recommend taking venture capital versus long-term bootstrapping.

OK super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many startups are not successful, and some are very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful startups from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Team dynamics. Well, the first thing is achieving the right balance in your team dynamics. It’s crucial that you be able to bring onto the team the right people that can then scale your company going forward. And that really is the most important factor. Without the right team, you won’t build anything that lasts.
  2. Attention to detail. As I mentioned earlier, I believe in sweating the small details. I think that’s so critical in everything that you do at a startup. Because if you make a misstep, you have no room for dissatisfaction and bad impressions. It will affect your brand and how people perceive you. And that attention to detail must be maintained across the entire team to make sure that we provide a fully packaged service delivery that encompasses high quality documentation, training, customer success, support, follow-up, etc. At OneCloud, we’ve benefited from that close teamwork. People think that we’re a much bigger company than we really are.
  3. Defined product/market fit. You need to be able to clearly articulate and position your product in the market. I’ve already mentioned some market confusion OneCloud experienced; it was very helpful for us to seek outside counsel on our messaging and market positioning to get it as crisp as possible.
  4. Focused. Keep a sharp focus on your core competency and company objectives. As safe as it might seem to bootstrap your company with a secondary revenue stream, it could massively impact your business success. Not only is it a distraction for your employees, but it will confuse the marketplace. As I mentioned earlier, in the first year of OneCloud, we were constantly on the phone with prospects, customers, and partners to correct their mistaken impression that we were a consulting business. It stalled sales. It’s better to take a loan or get venture capital than to go down the wrong path and spend cycles trying to re-route the company.
  5. Luck. A little bit of luck is definitely a key ingredient in the recipe for success for any startup!

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

You need to clearly define the type of company you’re founding and stay focused on that, without distraction. In my case, was OneCloud going to be a SaaS company or a consulting company? I should have avoided mixing the two — but I didn’t, and it took us a while to recover from that mistake. As I mentioned earlier, I followed some advice that I came to regret, but that in the short-term seemed practical as it helped with cash flow. And while we were acting as consultants, we were distracted from the real mission of the company. People in the market got confused as to who OneCloud was. Were we a software company, a SaaS company, or a consulting company? That held us back for over a year.

Startup founders often work extremely long hours and it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to founders about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting a company?

I’m a strong advocate of exercise and believe it’s crucial to fight against workload and crazy startup hours to keep yourself tuned. I am faithful in taking my 45 minutes of exercise, five or six days a week, to “sharpen the saw,” to quote Stephen Covey and his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Make sure you get quiet time, that private time, whether it’s meditation, or running, or yoga, whatever it is, to recharge your batteries and reset your clock. I enjoy riding my bike. That said, I didn’t take a real vacation for the first three years of OneCloud. What I did though, was get a ton of support from family members so that I could stay online and connected even on quick getaways.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In today’s world, it matters a great deal where you are born to get a fair chance at succeeding in life. I would like to contribute to creating a more even playing field for everyone.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

While Jeff Bezos’ social legacy is far from secure, he is likely to go down in history as an innovator and one of the greatest business visionaries of all time. He is not afraid to take risks, is customer focused, and has a powerful motivation to succeed. I would like to hear his thoughts on what he expects to see in the next decade and beyond.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Reach out to me at [email protected] when you would like to exchange ideas about enterprise integration and automation or explore a way to work together either through employment, partnership, or community. You can also contact me through the company website, blog, and social accounts:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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