Asia Tech Podcast recorded an insightful conversation with Heikki Nousiainen, Field-CTO & Co-founder at Aiven. Aiven makes setting up cloud databases so simple anyone can do it.
Some of the topics that Heikki discussed:
- Finland’s environmental influence on developing great tech
- How Aiven aims to help developers and organisations build on top of the current technology
- The benefits of having a tendency of just wanting to know more
- Aiven’s mission
- Maximising existing data to create new services
- Aiven’s drive to find new innovations to distill information and data
- Aiven’s future plans to enter a very tempting market
- Supporting other startups in a unique way
Some other titles we have considered for this episode:
- Focus on Things That Make a Difference
- It’s Very Hard to Build Something in Secret
- Bringing Out a Great Product
This episode was produced by Stephanie Ng.
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:03
Hi, this is Michael Waitze and welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Heikki Nousianen, the Field-CTO and Co-founder at Aiven, I think the company name was harder than your last name. Anyway, Heikki, thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you, by the way?
Heikki Nousiainen 0:20
Thank you, Michael. And thanks for having us.
Michael Waitze 0:22
It is my pleasure. And the first thing I have to ask you, before we get into your background, because I want to know a little bit more about you is, what is the Field-CTO? What does that mean?
Heikki Nousiainen 0:31
So good question Field-CTO. So I’m a technical person background and I hosted a position of CTO what I’ve done before, but just kind of this is a shift towards perhaps more customer facing roles of helping or spending time with our customers and kind of bringing their voice into our engineering culture, as well as do some public presentation trying to do our part in advancing open source usage in the market.
Michael Waitze 0:56
I love it. Can I ask you this? So how long is Aiven been around?
Heikki Nousiainen 0:59
So we found a dive in 2016 between four founders myself was Gonzaga Ma, handle bolt on and Miko
Michael Waitze 1:08
got it. I want to get back to this in a second because I have a lot more things I want to ask you. But before we do that, can we get some of your background? Just for some context? Yes.
Heikki Nousiainen 1:17
So I’m a software engineer by my background, and it’s always our other founders. So I’ve been over 20 years in the business, doing software, or just before finding it when I was maybe doing more about perhaps working under CTO, trying to figure out how to make teams more productive, and how to kind of get more output and make developers happier, if you will.
Michael Waitze 1:39
I’ve worked with tonnes of developers look, it’s super hard job, right. But I think the the reason why I want to make the distinction is that you’ve made some kind of conscious decision, I think, and tell me where I’m wrong here that there wasn’t enough of a technical interface with your clients, right? Because maybe you were CTO before, but now you’re going but I’m going to be the CTO that now talks externally that makes a point with our clients, but also makes a point with our external stakeholders. Is that fair?
Heikki Nousiainen 2:02
Yeah, yes, I think of our product is very technical. And we talk to development teams, and perhaps CIOs, or CTOs. And I think there’s a big impact in my role, I can also help our customers and our kind of organisations that we work in, in figuring out in their organisation and how they could utilise perhaps managed services, how could they could benefit open source to be more successful themselves selves as well, to drive that same developer productivity to bring in new capabilities to means to do things more effective unleash innovation? I like
Michael Waitze 2:39
it. Maybe that’s gonna be the title of this episode is unleash innovation. I love using the great stuff that the guests had to make the titles. Where are you from? Originally,
Heikki Nousiainen 2:47
from Helsinki, Finland. Still based and you’re still?
Michael Waitze 2:52
Why does so much great tech come out of Finland?
Heikki Nousiainen 2:56
It’s now November. So it’s the probably the darkest time of the year here in the US as stay inside and focus on building building interesting products. I think we attribute a lot of that into I think the schools are really good here and kind of have a have a history with ICT in Finland to build on following the footsteps, we have some great kind of people to look up to Linus Torvalds, for example, kind of Yeah,
Michael Waitze 3:21
so for those people that don’t know, that’s the guy who did Linux, right? I mean, let’s just be clear, because maybe other people don’t know. But you and I definitely know. But this is also really interesting, too. Because Linus Torvalds was one of the first guys really who did open source at scale. Right? I mean, if you go back and you look at the development of Linux, it was one of these things where when I first started hearing about it, which must have been, I don’t know, 20 years ago, and again, tell me where I’m wrong. Where there was just some dude who was writing a derivative operating system of Unix, which is why he called it Linux. Now, interestingly, his name was Linux. So it kind of all kind of worked. And it was meant to be free. Right? But then you had companies like Red Hat come along and say it’s free, but you don’t really know how to use this stuff. So let’s build these managed services around it. And that was kind of the beginning, at least in my mind of this idea of, yeah, it’s open source, but there’s a way to make a tonne of money doing it as well. Does that fair? Is that a fair characterization?
Heikki Nousiainen 4:20
Yes, I think yeah, that goes into in open source, we have a lot of good technology, a lot of good innovation, but often it is indeed maybe it’s created by people that are scratching their own itch and trying to solve a problem before their own. So it might not be always kind of polished product that is easy to consume by others. And I think Red Hat what they did Linux distro distributions, they packaged this software in a manner that it’s it’s usable. And I think there’s a great value in itself that comparing them to perhaps Aiven. We are doing so we are taking some of the or or providing some of the great opens or technologies in Data Management space databases and say data messaging services that may be difficult to operate. So we we hope to help then developers and organisations to build on top of this great technology without needing necessarily the expertise or the resources or know how to operate it. Have
Michael Waitze 5:19
you always been an open source guy yourself? Or is this something you’re relatively new to? Or? Or if we put this into context? Is there a culture in Finland and in the way that you are educated about software development that says, there’s so much power in open source? Right. And to be fair, just so you know, I record using Riverside, which is built on open source software, I’m using OBS right now open Broadcasting System, right. So I use a tonne of open source software, I know the way this works, but for is it part of the way you were raised in your computer? Education? Or is it something you came into later,
Heikki Nousiainen 5:54
I think it’s what I also grew up in of a software engineer and without tendency to pull things apart just to figure out a work. I think that resonates very well with open source. It’s also the fact that open source because it’s free to use for whatever purpose, it’s really easy to pick up and try out things and experiment things and utilise those components without having to go through perhaps approval or procurement processes. So especially as a youngster, not really having exactly the ability to purchase a commercial database licence, for example, then open source is a is a kind of, it’s a very easy step into technology
Michael Waitze 6:33
in a way. And again, this is just a thought that I’ve been having, in a way it feels to me like open source is like the ultimate sharing of education and knowledge, right, like the people that participate in open source development. At some point, they may get something back to it. It’s almost like the karma for software development, right? Like, I’m going to contribute all this stuff. I know, at some point, I’m gonna get something back, I may be able to make some money off of this. But if nothing else, I become part of this massive community of people that understand how software works. And anytime I have an issue, I can reach out to that community and benefit from the stuff that I’m working on, which may be completely different than the stuff to which I’ve contributed. Right. Is that does that make sense?
Heikki Nousiainen 7:11
Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. And if we actually adjust to discuss we held on first, Aiven hosted conference and open source data technologies uptime earlier this year, and one of the discussions there where we kind of were thinking about what is the motto of open source, and what is the community aspect of it. Much of it comes also from the active want to share information and share maybe detail either it’s cold, I made this or whether it’s a fixed bug that I use this product or technology in a different way. But all the same, it’s about providing documentation, going into meetups, sharing best practices, or going into conferences, talking about how you build your application on top of open source. It’s all that information that we kind of actively radiate out and want to share with others. I think that’s, that’s a kind of very core to open source not only save licence or kind of code contributions directly, but it’s the whole community aspect of it. Greater organisation perhaps than even even the technology itself.
Michael Waitze 8:13
I’m here you can see me right, you can see me thinking you see my hand on my chin, just I’m trying to figure out the equivalency in other domains, right. Like, I’m sure if chefs share recipes, it’s way less complex. It’s also very difficult, but it’s way less complex, what we’re trying to think of, is there another business where people are at the same level of sharing at the same level of openness, and I can’t come up with one off top my head, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. But is there is a mentality around the way this works. And here’s the other thing is that is that mentality different? How can I say it’s the right way, like by region? So I don’t know if you travel a lot outside of Europe. But if you go to the United States, or if you go to Asia, is there a different way that people look at open source? And like are they developing at different stages as well? Can you feel that
Heikki Nousiainen 9:00
there is some differences but not not too big and go into? Does it happen in other industries, I think it does, or it starts to grow, I think people start to see the benefit that if we share ideas, and if we compare notes, we can build something greater. The demand for the pace of innovation as of today is kind of you cannot or it’s very difficult to build kind of completely something in secret than in isolation and then bring out a great product. And if we look at
Michael Waitze 9:28
Can I just jump in for a second cuz this is a real, there’s no other word except pet peeve. You know what a pet peeve is right? Like this is this little thing that really bothers me when people operate in stealth. And I was actually thinking about this before you and I got on this call. The whole idea of operating in the dark is anathema to me, because you’re giving up this entire opportunity. And you can tell I’ve been thinking about this right? Because I’m not making up these words. But you you give up the entire opportunity to get just like constructive feedback from people that may have been thinking about the same thing. You also eliminate the possibility of getting feedback from potential clients who could say, oh, we don’t actually need that thing. Because we’ve been sold that thing. 15 times and even the way you’re iterating, and it’s not good, like, why do people want to operate in the dark is a question. I’m constantly asking myself, I interrupted you. So please go ahead. But I’m thinking the same thing. Yeah, go ahead.
Heikki Nousiainen 10:18
Yeah, I think it’s much of the same. It goes into kind of how much you can do yourself on what’s the kind of vision business tip differentiation, if you start to or want to build the whole, if you just look at the kind of how Cloud has changed the world, we build applications. I can’t imagine now going buying servers and racking them somewhere, because it’s so yeah, it’s time delay that why bother? Let’s use a platform and focus on the things that make a difference. Yeah, but maybe going back, I think we are starting to see that sharing mentality in all or other businesses as well, as you look at manufacturing, for example, or retail, all of those companies share best practices with each other and results from experiments. And if if we really look into something that kind of hackerspace, on sharing 3d models, or through sharing hardware specs, and that’s the kind of that’s a very interesting space. And that goes perhaps into my tendency to wanting to figure out or tear things apart, that you understand how they click and how they work.
Michael Waitze 11:20
But it’s just so interesting, right? So if you we call this when I was gay, we called a tinkering, right? Like you have a radio and you’re like, I got to know what’s inside there. We just have to know what is that circuit board looked like? Is there even a circuit board? What are those tubes? Look, you know, when I was a kid, because I’m older than you, it’s like, I swear to you, my dad said we don’t go behind that television set. And I thought people died back there. Because I think he was afraid I was going to take it apart. I’m not kidding. When I was like five or six years old. He was like, Don’t go behind the TV. I did, of course. But it was it just felt like people were going to die back there. But that was like the beginning of this idea of I just want to know, right? And why not? Here’s the other thing about stealth and again, tell me where I’m wrong. Is that your idea? Not yours. But any one person’s idea is just not that differentiated from somebody else’s idea. You’re not the only person right? That has that idea? And if and if you share, you’ll get more information. Sorry, go
Heikki Nousiainen 12:12
ahead. No, it’s exactly kind of a it’s this old saying that ideas are usually quite cheap. Yeah. And not all of them. But it’s about the execution on how you turn those ideas into something. Exactly.
Michael Waitze 12:25
And I want to say that every idea that I have I share with people first of all, because I want to feel like does this make any sense to anybody but me? And I think that that’s true, but isn’t this to talk to me a little bit more about ivenn? Like, specifically what I then does, why it was started, and like what its status is right now, if you don’t mind. And then we’ll dig a little bit deeper as well.
Heikki Nousiainen 12:44
Aiven is software as a service provider or managed service provider for open source data technology or data management technologies, including databases in a relational space, Postgres MySQL, into no SQL, Apache Cassandra OpenSearch, into, say, messaging services, Apache Kafka.
Michael Waitze 13:09
You mentioned Cassandra, and I’ll tell you this, and I’ll tell you why I’m bringing it up. I don’t wanna interrupt you. But you can keep going in a second. Cassandra was a data infrastructure thing that was developed at Facebook by a guy from India. And I talked to that guy last week, and I’m releasing an episode with that guy. Tomorrow. I just thought it was and I wouldn’t even have known about it. Like, you could have just said Cassandra would have been like, maybe that’s his cousin’s name, but because I spoke to that guy last week. Now I know Anyway, go ahead. Sorry.
Heikki Nousiainen 13:39
I think that’s that’s the story on many of these open source technologies. So we just launched Aiven for click house serves a data warehousing solution coming from Yandex. And company build it because they had a need. We support time series database in three, which comes from Uber, where they had their data volumes was such that they couldn’t find a product that would fulfil, but I think it’s great that also these companies, they decided that let’s open source technology, there’s plenty of other companies that could benefit from this technology as well. But maybe back to what Aiven does, is that we find these great technologies we feel that help to solve a true business problems, and we provide them as a service to developers. Our mission is really to help developers to focus on building applications and being able to utilise these technologies underneath. That’s what Aiven does. So it means that we operate them on behalf so developer can get just in a matter of minutes, deploy data messaging service and start using it as part of the application without needing to know or having the expertise on how to set up how to operate it and so forth. Yeah, and this baby goes into history on how Aiven was built and why it was started. So we we for we we struggle with earlier software projects when it was difficult to get ideas off the ground that you needed to go back in back in the 20 years ago, you had to Actually proposal and get that server. Luckily, with the cloud, that part got quite a bit easier. But we were still facing the same thing with software, we had an operation unit operations unit that maybe they had a set of technologies. But if they weren’t suitable for the problem, or still you had to go there and request for their support now, kind of with the DevOps, that development teams gained responsibility of the full lifecycle management of a software project. So they had the opportunity, we had the opportunity to deploy Postgres as a service, and we knew how to run it, then how to operate as part. So that was, that was kind of a great for us. But then when we looked at the teams around us, they didn’t have that specific expertise. So they were still struggling. So we launchedAiven as a Postgres as a service to kind of help PR teams and maybe as a service that we would have existed at the time. And then once we did that, we realised that there’s a whole bunch of great technologists that we could see a lot later, bring into the hands of developers and make them make them more productive, get them going from idea to execution really fast.
Michael Waitze 16:03
And what is the response you get from developers when you talk to them? And I guess it’s, this gets back to the question I was asking you before, right? You’re based in Europe, I presume you’re running a really great and a large and growing business in Europe as well. But when you leave Europe, and go to a place where you don’t live and where you’re maybe slightly unfamiliar, when you talk to developers, let’s say here, I’m in Bangkok, but in Asia and Southeast Asia, what is the kind of response you get? And what is that sales cycle? Like for them? Are they having the same problems that you for we’re having? So they understand what you’re talking about? Are they like, Oh, let us think about it. Like, what does that look like to you?
Heikki Nousiainen 16:36
I think that’s that’s pretty universal it is, it goes into kind of the need for innovation, or the pace of innovation is kind of constantly accelerating. And also all businesses are becoming more and more data driven companies ability to capture and utilise data in real time to drive your business decision is by it’s those who grow and those those that are facing out. So this is the kind of everyone is facing this problem, how we can manage and how we can develop faster how we can run faster cycles, how we can innovate how we can kind of experiment. So services like ours, they free up developer time, that’s the main thing, main driver free up resources that they can then use on really focusing on the business problems themselves. Yeah, there’s
Michael Waitze 17:24
this really interesting development that’s taking place on the software side. And in a way, it’s in the hardware side, too, right. Like when I was at Goldman Sachs, we moved, we did this massive move from the building where Goldman originally was in Tokyo to like a brand new fancy building. And one of the things that had to move with us was the data centre, because we maintained our own data centre, and that whole move, just so you know, cost about 150 million US dollars. And both of those data centres had to run the same time concurrently, just in case, right? Because if the new one went down, or wasn’t exactly a replica of the old one, we had big problems, right. But Cloud has solved a lot of these problems, right, where you literally just walk in somewhere, turn on anything, and you have access to all your data. But once you don’t have your own data centre, now you have other things you have to deal with, right? Because now it’s out there in the world. And I’m presuming, and what it does is it makes this managing your own data centre, so much cheaper, because now you don’t have to run machines. If a machine goes down, somebody replace it, it’s just a service. But when that happens, you now expose yourself to hacking that you may not have exposed yourself to before. What is the data security stuff look like to you? And do you help people with that now that you’re helping give this massive data management services company? How about security to people come to you for this as well?
Heikki Nousiainen 18:33
Yes. It’s usually not the kind of driver as you mentioned, the security all your data about new old data centres. That’s pretty well understood. Yeah. Although I wouldn’t make still make a claim that the data security in Cloud is probably better. And
Michael Waitze 18:49
people know that though. Do people really understand that?
Heikki Nousiainen 18:51
Well, it’s job to kind of shifting responsibility, then you’re kind of you have to trust someone else to do much of that part. But I think that realisation is coming that indeed, and it’s easy to calculate from the fact that okay, if we take Google or Amazon, the number of reads or the amount of resources they put into the security trumps any other company in the world, no matter how good you are, they got the talent and it’s, it’s their first priority to ensure that the security is top notch. And the same goes, Yeah, same goes with hive and we take information security, of course, very critically, customers trust that their production data loss. So we’ve kind of built from the very founding of IBM, we ensured that the security is part of the offering from our operations from our software development cycles from technical software’s security controls in our information, security certificates and compliance audit by external hippo to running a public bug bounty pro programme, so really kind of comprehensive information security programme to ensure that we, we maintain that customer trust on ensuring that data is is confidential and it’s always available.
Michael Waitze 19:59
Yeah. I want to give you a little bit of an anecdote too on the implication of just having the right software and technology in place and what it means for business and see if it’s the same thing for what you’re working on or working with. When I was at Goldman Sachs, you know, I joined a trading business, it was essentially a tech business, I don’t need to go into the detail around it, and I’m gonna round some numbers. But when I joined that team, let’s just make up a number, the revenue was like $10 million a year in all of Asia. And when I left, that team, like six years later was 135. And you’re smiling, but you’ll smile more when you hear the reason why, like sales obviously increased the capacity increase and stuff like that. But the main thing that changed the tenor of that business was having the right tech, right. And before that, I think a lot of the people that were sitting in that business saw tech as a cost centre, and not as like, a way we can make more money. Are you seeing that mindset change as well, particularly in the context of the data management? And I mean, you’re just running this massive platform as a service for people. You’ve seen people change their mindset on this as well?
Heikki Nousiainen 20:56
Yes, yes, definitely. So we’ve seen this shift from kind of quantity during data as a post fact analytics or kind of source for reporting that will give us then kind of number on how did we do in the past and then doing into utilising, indeed, this data in real time to drive our decisions to, to make experiments to set out the questions upfront and trying to respond to them with kind of figuring out where to get the data to ensure that we are on the right track. And the second part and maybe going back to say Information Security a bit as well. So I think that the challenge is change. When you can offload many of that, say, in data centres, we took good care that we have firewalls, and we kind of ensured that no one gets in with Cloud setup, you start to think about more on data governance side of things, what data I actually have, who where I store it, who has access to it? Yes. And I think kind of then going back into what’s what is cost, and what is the potential revenue maker, if we have that governance in place, we have a huge number of opportunities in reusing our existing data for building new services. So it’s becomes a source of wealth as well that we can utilise and kind of create perhaps future revenue streams from
Michael Waitze 22:14
I love the excitement in your voice. I say this a lot, right? No. And I really mean it. I honestly don’t think anybody can be good at something unless they care about it. And I’m telling you, I can tell you care if it’s just one of that look on your face. It’s super important, I think to feel that way. Can we go back for a second? I want to ask like why you said you guys had your own conference and your own meeting. You called it uptime? Yeah. What was the reason for doing that? And is that the first one you did? Or is that if you do do this often? Like what’s the deal?
Heikki Nousiainen 22:39
So that’s the first one often annual conference that we went out, went on a hold on maybe becomes now we held it in Amsterdam in September, but maybe a week when a cover? Is it Pacific and North America next year, as well, that’s part of our kind of open source mission. So it’s about radiating that information and making sure that we exchange those best ideas and hear from the industry experts on what’s going on. Is this
Michael Waitze 23:04
to date is this like, I’ll get to insight. But is this like the WWDC the worldwide developer conference with the IO conference with the F six conference conference in some of these other big tech companies, and you guys are just like, look, we got to have the uptime conference. So people can come here, we get to know them, they get to know us, we can share our best practices and stuff like that. And this just not only does it help the business, but it helps the community as well. No, sorry. Go ahead.
Heikki Nousiainen 23:23
Yep, definitely got a two day two day conference. And and we will specifically want to make it that it’s it’s not an Aiven conference, or it’s not about Ireland or utilising I’ve been products because it’s round, round open source data technologies that Yes, perhaps the focus is on the technologies that we love as well. Because we know that that’s what the content is by the industry experts, people that work in those upstream projects or kind of are utilising those technologies and can can then kind of share on what they’ve learned and how they are perhaps utilising technologies.
Michael Waitze 23:56
What did you learn this year from this conference? How many people were there, by the way?
Heikki Nousiainen 23:59
I think it was gonna have to check. It was about 200 people, I believe. So still a lot though. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 24:08
Come on. Your first party? It’s a good party.
Heikki Nousiainen 24:11
Yes, yes. And then kind of post pandemic worth, I think we’re still getting started. Yeah. But, for example, the creator of Lake House was giving a great presentation on just how exactly click house is so performant. And so how it’s built so that it can really handle the analytic queries and run through hundreds of millions of lines or billions of lines of data to come up with analytics results.
Michael Waitze 24:39
Do you feel like things are getting super complex like even from when you founded the company in 2016, to today, it’s only six years ago, but I feel like the amount of throughput the amount of compute the amount of data you just mentioned, millions, it’s probably billions of lines of data. Things are just getting so complex in a way that’s got to be more exciting for you than less exciting though. Because the more complex you get, the more fun it gets. Yeah,
Heikki Nousiainen 24:59
yeah. So I find it exciting. And I think there’s a volume of data is indeed something that is kind of keeps on growing at the rate that everything breaks all the time. And we need to figure out new technologies, new ways on how we can distil information and decision from the data. And at the same time, it’s really exciting for me, because when I, when I look at the question that I can answer with data, typically, I may get answered I want but it typically yields more and more questions that need additional data points or additional logic into figuring things out. But it’s evolution is really fast. And it’s really exciting space to be
Michael Waitze 25:40
in. I mean, isn’t that part of the fun, right is that the more data you get? The more data you get? The more questions you can ask also, the more questions that arise, but then the more things you learn, right? I mean, one of the reasons why I love doing what I do is I get to talk to people like you and learn stuff, but you must learn so much like he talked about Yandex building a new data infrastructure. We talked about Cassandra, all of these things get built in they’re cyclical, right? So let’s just say they’re useful life is seven to 10 years, let’s say. But as you reach that point, at the end, the eighth year, the ninth year, you get people coming to you going, how about this? How about that you get to learn all this stuff. And then these new platforms get built as well, which is gonna be super cool. No,
Heikki Nousiainen 26:15
yes. Yes, it is, is. And maybe this is a bridge back to open source, I think a lot of kind of wealth and knowledge from these open source technologies, how we built this to solve a specific problem or specific amount of volume of data? How could we use those lessons learned? How did it break out when we tried to do 10x data that it couldn’t handle anymore? What could we do differently next time around. So I think that’s that’s a really interesting space and really interesting development going on at the moment. And there’s a
Michael Waitze 26:47
relationship right between the way the hardware and the speed at which the hardware works, along with the development of the software, and just the data analysis infrastructures that get built around them. So it’s really this triangle of like the human sitting here writing the software, the implementation of the software, and how that gets built out. But also the hardware now that can be used, because this is developing as well. It’s never going to stop, right? That’s very true. Can you can you tell me this? You’re in Helsinki, you said, What does it look like to you to build that business out now in Asia? Like how long? Have you been looking at Asia as a market? Or has this been something you’ve always been doing? And what does your business look like in this region?
Heikki Nousiainen 27:23
Our services have been globally available available, and we’ve had some very early customers from Asia Pacific region. But that’s very true that we have just started to build our operations more systematically in Asia Pacific for since last year. So we are venture capital funded. So part of the funding round that we raised last year, we devoted into ensuring that we expand to Asia Pacific as well, I think it’s Sorry,
Michael Waitze 27:51
I’ll get back to AIPAC in a second is the funding that you received from a European venture capitalist? Is it from an American? Is it Asian? Like how does that work as
Heikki Nousiainen 27:59
well? So we have we have raced from Finland, initial from lifeline ventures from earlybird in Germany, IVP, leading our round from Silicon Valley, obviously, world innovation labs, hailing from Japan, latest Euro zone from Europe again. So we have backers from global space as well, we are very thankful for those backers, they said they see the importance in this space, and they kind of trust in our ability to change in this business.
Michael Waitze 28:29
So talk to me about business growth in Asia. I’m really curious, what what does it look like to you sitting in Finland? And what are the difference is like, what are the challenges of running that business out here? So
Heikki Nousiainen 28:40
I think yes, that’s very true that without local presence, the growth is always difficult. Sometimes you need to be local events and reach out, get those leads and and meet people discuss on how things things could be done differently. But we are looking at Asia Pacific with with great interest. I think there’s a lot of new digital native companies coming up, we look at that say that I’ll use it or spend growth that we are receiving from the analyst on their view and predictions. That’s a very tempting Mark, I think this lot allotted to you. Yes. And kind of going back into depth perhaps opportunities, I think world becoming more global, I think there’s also a lot of opportunities for Asian Pacific, new startups, new new companies, new enterprises to have a global reach and make their story in a global set. So
Michael Waitze 29:30
one of the things that AWS did, right, is that they lowered the cost drastically. You talked about this, right? I’ve just made let’s just talk about this in simple terms of like maintaining your own server, right. So 15 years ago, maybe a little bit more now. But let’s just use 15 as a benchmark. If I wanted to start my own company, I also had to build all my own server infrastructure is very expensive, but today I can do it. I can rent a server for two months for 100 bucks a month. And if it doesn’t work, I just shut it down and I’m really only out 200 bucks. I didn’t buy the machines. I do to hire engineers or any of that other stuff, too, but one of the other things that AWS did, which I thought was kind of interesting was they gave a lot of services away for free at the beginning, particularly to small companies, they’re like, yeah, for a year, we’ll give you $1,000 of credit. And that means you can use an s3 for six months or nine months, or whatever it is. And then as you grow, now will start charging you later for stuff like that. So is there an opportunity as well forAiven to be like the AWS of this of your own sector? Do you know what I mean, when you give some of that away to startups in particularly in APAC, for free or maybe for super low cost so that when they do start to grow, there are two things that happen here, right? One is, you’ll know they’re growing, because you’ll see their service usage increase, it’ll help you understand what that growth looks like. But it will also mean now you know who your new customers are as well. Are you thinking about this, too?
Heikki Nousiainen 30:51
Yes, as part of the funding round or funding round last year, we started by even the cluster programme, and it’s specifically kind of startup programme where we can support startups with users credits, but not only that, but with the technical expertise coming from our team. So and also guiding on how to build a scalable architectures given we’re still kind of at the phase where Aiven is growing rapidly. So we don’t necessarily have the means to evaluate all the different startups. So we’re working closely here with with the partnering VC funds, or if their startups are funded by VCs that are enrolled into our programme, seed or a funding round, then we can help those startups to to really grow on scales on top private platforms. Wait
Michael Waitze 31:34
a second, does that mean you’re partnering with venture capitalists, and as the VC firms fund other companies, they then feed them back into Aiven as clients of yours.
Heikki Nousiainen 31:44
So it’s a bit of a calibration there, then VCs there, they probably then do the evaluation or that the startup are on a trajectory to grow fast. And then we can also then help with that startup programmes. It’s gonna take that growth easier.
Michael Waitze 31:57
That’s a really good growth hack for you. Right, and a good growth hack for them and actually really good for the VCs because they trust you. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be part of your Partnership Programme. How big is your team globally?
Heikki Nousiainen 32:08
So we are now 562, globally, starting from for people to grow into that 562? Yes.
Michael Waitze 32:17
What is it like? And how big is it in Asia? Or are you just starting to hire in Asia?
Heikki Nousiainen 32:20
Asia Pacific? For us? It’s about 60 people at the moment,
Michael Waitze 32:23
it’s a lot of people. Are they mostly Singapore? Or? Yes, yeah.
Heikki Nousiainen 32:26
So we have about 10 people in Singapore and how these numbers keep changing.
Michael Waitze 32:31
It’s not a quiz. I’m just, yeah,
Heikki Nousiainen 32:33
we have a presence in Tokyo and Sydney, we have a larger unit also with operations. So we can cover that kind of round the clock operation. So we have Sydney and New Zealand for operations are well implement our Europe or North America operations as well.
Michael Waitze 32:48
Wow. So there’s a lot of people out here, so So where is your office in Singapore? Just out of curiosity? Oh, no, it’s okay. I don’t know. It’s an okay. Yeah, I, it’s okay. I like to say, my first time in Singapore to see you know, was in December of 1990. So it’s a while ago. And to be fair, until this year, I kind of didn’t understand the geography there because I hadn’t spent more than like two or three days at any one time. So it’s kind of not a fair question for you. But now I know it better, which is kind of the reason why I asked because I was in Singapore this year, for almost two and a half months,
Heikki Nousiainen 33:19
I was able to visit Singapore, just not too long ago for cloud Expo Asia and had a chance to visit our office as well. But it’s kind of when deeply familiar with the city that it’s difficult for central business district. That’s about that’s how accurate I
Michael Waitze 33:36
can. Okay, so the last big topic I want to cover with you. And I’d love to have you on again, as your business keeps growing out here. Because I think that the conversation around these services. So interesting for me, as you can tell, the whole world is talking about ESG. Right, it seems to be infused into everything that’s happening here. Is there an ESG angle here as well?
Heikki Nousiainen 33:55
Yes. So as you mentioned, it’s a big trend that comes anywhere. And we definitely want to do our part. And so we officially launched our sustainability and social impact programme, actually earlier this year as well. Yeah. So and that covers multiple parts. So on sustainability angle, they kind of certainly we are ambitious are that we want to help our customers to help reduce their co2 footprint as well coming from the usage ofAiven services. So for us these now means that measuring our own co2 impact and when we implement the customer services on top of Cloud resources, bringing the transparency on their energy consumption and co2 emissions of what is specifically of their service footprint, how do you do that? So, we are at the moment we are still building we are looking at project goal cloud carbon footprint, originally created by ThoughtWorks, another open source project and they have asked us to lead in kind of a method and estimations on things like if we utilise a certain CPU architecture CPU or how much energy is consumed there certain CPU utilisation, we collect all this information to calculate the impact that our customers that single customer service and then going into the future, we would then want to kind of also have an active recommendations be the operation location or right sizing of the services, make sure that we together to try to reduce that emission footprint.
Michael Waitze 35:25
Do you think part of this ethos comes from the open source thing, this idea that you’re sharing information anyway, and that to some level or to some extent that the sharing is beneficial to everybody? And that this angle also for ESG, that you’re talking about here? Right is also helpful to it’s not just helpful to the companies with whom you’re working but helpful to the world is Do you think it’s part of the same ethos?
Heikki Nousiainen 35:48
I think it it is, I think it’s the part and it’s part of the wanting to do things the right way. I think that’s, that’s really important. But I’m super happy. I’m, I’m part of that technical side of that calculations, and myself. And through that, I’ve been able to discuss these things with a lot of customers of ours and a lot of also the kind of providers and suppliers that we work with. And it’s really great to see that there’s a lot of interest in with everyone to have a positive impact on this side. Yeah.
Michael Waitze 36:20
Okay. Look, I think that’s what we’re gonna end, I really appreciate it. No, go ahead.
Heikki Nousiainen 36:23
I want to take another side, then, of course, there’s the social social impact parts. Part of that is the cluster startup programme. Kind of what when I’m kind of give back part of it is we recently launched open source programme office that at the moment employs 15 full time people working on those upstream open source projects to make sure that they are as viable as possible and those move forward and do our part in actively contributing in the direction of those projects as well. I like to initiatives in where we are looking to help how we can say do initiatives like woman in coding or kind of working with a minorities to bring them into tech and kind of have that opportunity as well then, of course, looking into our internal way of working through our diversity, equity and inclusion programme, I was gonna kind of do better on making sure that we are kind of as diverse as much the society so that we are definitely get all the right inputs and do things the right way. They’re not just to kind of fall into a pattern. Yeah, no,
Michael Waitze 37:27
I get it. Like the whole idea of and this is one of the reasons why I asked this question about the ethos right. So I think you may have just changed the title on me and I think wanting to do things the right way is a really important way to think and there’s an ethos I think around open source. So it starts there, the beginning of your whole existence in this environment starts with open source, the education around open sources share share conspicuously right. And that whole sharing attitude then leads to Well, wait a second, what should our sharing look like? And with whom should we be sharing? So that’s the diversity and inclusion thing and then what’s the impact that we’re having? Not just on your ability to be profitable, but on the environment in which we live and operate? Right so it’s one ethos and I think that’s really important to note. Yeah, okay. Well, maybe that’s good. Heikki Nousiainen, the Field-CTO and Co-founder at Aiven that was awesome. I really appreciate you doing this. You got to come back.
Heikki Nousiainen 38:17
Thank you would be happy to thank you. And this was my pleasure.
Follow Michael Waitze and the Asia Tech Podcast here:
Facebook – Michael Waitze
Facebook – Asia Tech Podcast
LinkedIn – Michael Waitze
Twitter – Michael Waitze