To celebrate the 2013 Weatherford Awards, we’re profiling each of the honorees here at the College of Business blog. Today are Dan Di Spaltro, Alex Polvi and Logan Welliver, the founders of Cloudkick. For more information about the awards and links to other honoree profiles as they’re posted, check out our introduction to the series.
For Alex Polvi, entrepreneurship comes down to one simple phrase:
“Just go for it.”
That’s exactly what he and fellow Oregon State alumni Dan Di Spaltro and Logan Welliver did after graduating from OSU.
In 2008, the trio moved to Silicon Valley and created Cloudkick, a startup dedicated to helping customers better manage their cloud computing resources.
Exactly two years later they were finalizing the sale of the startup to Rackspace, the second-largest cloud-computing company in the world.
All three took a risk, driven by a desire to do something they loved with the skills they had acquired at OSU. Now, just more than five years removed from graduation, the group has cemented their reputations as innovative entrepreneurs.
The story of Cloudkick began before OSU, when Polvi and Welliver met growing up in McMinnville, Oregon.
At OSU Polvi studied computer science, where he met Di Spaltro, while Welliver pursued graphic design.
Polvi says working in the Open Source Lab at OSU gave him the skills he needed to land internships with Mozilla and Google and eventually his first job out of school.
After graduating, Di Paltro and Polvi moved to San Jose, California. A year out of school the pair decided to start a new venture, and Polvi called Welliver to join them.
“It sounded like a good opportunity, and I knew Alex well enough to trust his nose for business, so I flew down to San Jose to meet with him and Dan,” Welliver remembers. “After that meeting, I closed up shop in Portland and moved down to San Jose to give it a shot.”
Di Spaltro and Polvi created the technical aspects of the project while Welliver used his graphic design talents to make the final product visually appealing and intuitive for users.
After participating in the Y Combinator accelerator program in 2009, the company launched and started its ascent in the cloud-computing world.
Less than a year later the company had grown to 12 employees — including six OSU alumni.
In December of 2011, Rackspace acquired Cloudkick, capping an amazing journey for the startup and its three founders.
Looking back, Polvi says the group had its share of luck, but they made it possible by following their passions and starting something of their own.
“Just the fact that we started a company in the first place positioned us to have 20 times more luck than someone who didn’t,” Polvi said.
Welliver said his main piece of advice for students and young entrepreneurs is to start working on what they love now instead of waiting for more favorable conditions.
“If you’re truly passionate about something, start working on it today,” Welliver said. “I hear too many people endlessly pitching ideas instead of building them. Executing a poor idea has infinitely more value than postulating you have a great one.”