We are all about changing the way people work
Ieva Riekstina, Consultant at Pedersen & Partners spoke with Claire Linley, Chief Communications Officer (CCO) at cloudyBoss
Ieva: Claire, tell us a bit about cloudyBoss.
Claire: cloudyBoss is a multi-award-winning business. Our NEXT+ product combines SaaS and IaaS and is the World’s first EDLT (Enterprise Distributed Ledger Technology) platform. NEXT+ is designed to empower organisations of all sizes and types with a platform that is scalable, flexible and highly affordable. It combines over 300 functions in 80 modules such as Marketing/HR/Accounting etc., with DLT, AI, IoT, ML and other convergent technologies built in.
With our own 4th Generation Blockchain built into the core, it is also the ideal platform upon which many technologies can be developed. Through our own startup accelerator, Startospheric, we help startups fast-track their MVP by developing it on the NEXT+ platform.
Ieva: What about your role in the company?
Claire: I am a co-founder of cloudyBoss and have worked with Lou Schillaci, our CEO over several startups during the past 15 years. My background was not originally technology, I ran my own PR business and also worked on network television for a number of years, presenting business and lifestyle shows. I still run a professional video and voiceover studio in Europe called Novita Digital Studios. As the CCO of cloudyBoss I develop all the communications for the company and even though I am not highly technical, having been around technology for a long time, my understanding is pretty good. I suppose you could say technology is like a language I understand but am not fluent in speaking!
Ieva: I noticed on your website that your company received several awards last year. Are there any that you are particularly proud of?
Claire: Yes, there are two we are very proud of. One of them is from Australia where we were recognized as a business of tomorrow. One of the top 4 banks in Australia saw cloudyBoss as one of the top businesses to watch in the future.
The second award was during TechChill in Riga where we were recognized by Startup Lighthouse (part of the European H2020 Initiative), as one of the top ten startups. We put a lot of effort into everything we do on a daily basis, so such acknowledgment is important to us.
Ieva: Further developing on this: I’ve been connected to technology most of my life, but what is surprising to me, your company build solutions using a combination of new technologies: blockchain, artificial intelligence, IOT, machine learning. Who is behind all this?
Claire: Our CTO will thank you. Giovanni Di Noto is the brainchild behind cloudyBoss and he’s been working on this for five years. It came about through requirements for a business application that he was working on for himself and, quite remarkably he saw the future of these technologies already then, because as you know that five years ago these things were no so important. We believe we pioneered what we call Enterprise Distributed Ledger, because built into the core of our platform is blockchain and it’s not someone else’s platform, it’s our own that we’ve developed from ground up. So we are very proud of this.
Ieva: I understand that the blockchain technology ensures safety…
Claire: Yes it is. It spans so many different things: from building the product on a secure platform, which means that everything that is built is immutable and secure, to enabling such things as smart contracts between 2 or more people which takes only a few minutes, whereas other platforms will require a lot of custom coding, etc. Due to our DLT technology being built into the core you can be incorporating safe immutable data right across the board.
Ieva: This sounds very efficient, especially if you can make smart contracts without burning tons of electricity.
Claire: Exactly! Currently with all the computations which are required in other platforms, it’s thousands of hours going up in smoke, if you like!
Ieva: How many people currently work at your company?
Claire: I don’t think I can answer that as we are a fully distributed company, which means we have team members all over the world and do not have a head office. We find this works really well for us. Everyone lives and works where they are most comfortable and therefore most efficient, and no one is disadvantaged by having to move countries to be in the one place. We believe people are the most creative this way. We have team members all over Europe, in Asia, India and Australia. We make good use of technology to stay in touch and have not found it too much of an issue to work across different time zones. So, work-life balance is pretty achievable this way. Everyone, hopefully, is living where they want to live and can take time for themselves and have a fulfilling personal life, as well as enjoy working on our diverse range of projects. Ultimately we feel it enhances what we are trying to achieve as well because we have a lot of different cultural input.
Additionally, quite early on we started the cloudyBoss Intern Program and this attracted many young, and some mature students, to us.
Ieva: If there are young or mature talents here in the Baltics, how do they find you if they want to become part of your team?
Claire: They can contact me or our CEO through our website. We love talking to new talent and seeing if there is a good fit, and if there is something they want to achieve or can contribute.
Ieva: And there is another curious thing you told me about — you don’t pay salaries in a traditional meaning, but rather pay royalties. How does it work?
Claire: Indeed. We really value talent and we have a unique way of remunerating our engineers, which is similar to the music industry, by paying royalties based on the contribution made to our system, so as long as your contribution continues to be used and to the extent that it is used throughout our system, then you will be remunerated accordingly. This means that we retain the talent we’ve trained as they are motivated to maintain their contribution and their ongoing royalties. This has been working really well and means we are not suddenly finding that we’ve got gaps in parts of code that we’ve developed, because our team stays with us.
Ieva: With a distributed team like yours how do you ensure that people understand and identify themselves with your company?
Claire: That’s probably the key to my job being the Chief Communications Officer and making sure that we communicate with everybody. Obviously, we do a lot of front facing communication to the general public, but we also do a lot internally. We make sure that even if someone is working on a tiny little project or a part of a project in any part of the world she or he knows what’s going on in the big world of our business, because we are growing fast. We are a startup moving into a scaleup moving into a fully-fledged business and it’s a very fast pace. And we want everyone to feel like they belong, like they have a place here, so we keep everyone in the loop and although we are very spread-out and don’t have a head office we think it works really well because we have everyone working from where they feel most comfortable.
Ieva: Sounds great, but do you plan to have an office Xmas party at some point of time?
Claire: Yes, absolutely. We are planning our CloudyBoss conference and we hope will take place next year. Our idea is to get the whole team together in some nice place where we can all enjoy, meet and socialize.
Ieva: I understand, there are a lot of women joining your company. How did it happen? And why do you think this happens?
Claire: We didn’t specifically set out to attract more women than men but currently well over 50% of our development team are women. Some of them have made particularly outstanding contributions. One team have pioneered a world-first electronic Know Your Customer application, another team are making inroads into the Indian Government’s land registry (which until now didn’t exist in any formal way); and another young engineer has taken what she’s learned and is working on turning her small country in Asia into a hub for technology. They are all outstanding examples of taking technology and using it in the most creative and expanded ways. They really reflect our values, which are about changing the way we work and genuinely helping people, and they are making real advancements, not just in technology, but in their community using our technology.
Women in technology can do anything. They can shine and succeed as much as anybody, and the guiding light to that is to follow your passion.
Ieva: I’d like to circle back to the intern program. How many interns are applying, how do you train them, supervise them? How many of those interns are becoming your employees?
Claire: I’m not sure I have all the data for you as I’m not involved with the program on a daily basis, but I think we’ve had over 100 interns in our program over the last couple of years. If they are on the technical side, they are supervised by Giovanni Di Noto — our CTO — and he works very closely with them. I believe it’s an intense 3-months program and at the end of it a lot of them have stayed on in some capacity or other .
Ieva: It’s great that you are not only hiring specialists but are also training young people who decided to pursue careers in technology and enable them to work with most modern tech advancements that are currently available.
Claire: Yes, and many of them come to us full of ideas and they realize that there is so much they can apply their skills to. The other important part is working with other startups. Although technically, we are a startup/scaleup ourselves, we are helping other startups to get going as quickly as possible through our own accelerator Startospheric, because we see around 90% of startups in technology fail. However, since we have a fully developed platform, we can help people get to their MVP really fast.
Ieva: Yes, even though from your website people might get the idea that this technology is overwhelming and complicated, with your platform you somehow managed to put it all together and help companies to be safe, quick and efficient in their businesses.
Claire: Yes, and the real bottom line is that we are all about changing the way people work. We want people to be able to work easier and more affordably, so that even those who run businesses from their smart phones can simply apply smart technology that’s easy to use. This is our soul motivation and we are very passionate about that.
Ieva: All right, tell us about yourself now: how does a day in your life look like? What motivates you?
Claire: My daily routine is quite varied. I like to build in a good personal start to the day, so I do a little meditation, then take some time to walk my dog and look around the lovely town in Portugal where I live. We have great weather here so it’s easy to get out and about. That starts my day well. Sometimes I will have checked emails earlier but usually I try to start with a blank canvas and just go out into the world with a clear mind. I find inspiration comes more easily that way and I often get some good ideas for the business during my clear-mind time.
In terms of work — I am always working on written material — for media releases and for marketing material — and writing and producing video content for cloudyBoss. We do a lot through video as it is a powerful medium and is a better way of explaining some of the complex processes involved in our technology. We like things to be simple and clear and to have some fun as well. I also send updates to the team and stay in touch with clients to make the most of any good developments that are happening for them. Our exec team meet regularly on Skype and of course are going back and forth on email all day.
I love what I do. There is a new balance for me. I like the creative process of writing about what we do. Some of that is technical but much is about the applications for our technology and how it helps people. Being part of the executive team it’s exciting to be involve in all our business decisions about the direction of the company. We are super busy and we’re expanding fast which means we all do multiple jobs, but I work with great people who are all very smart and very dedicated and genuinely want to help people. We share ideas, everyone is valued, and we all love to laugh and have fun, so that helps too!
Technology for technology’s sake is empty, so find what it’s about for you personally.
Ieva: We live in wonderful times because every aspect of our lives is changing due to digitization and technology, and we don’t know where it will lead us. Is there anything else you would like to add, perhaps a message for women in tech?
Claire: I’d recommend that women do what they are passionate about. The old saying is “If you do what you love then you never work a day in your life”. I hold that very close to my heart. There are many opportunities opening up for women in technology and they can shine just as much as their male counterparts. A very important point is that women bring something quite different to the table. They approach tasks and problem solve quite differently and they are often more prepared to approach things from an intuitive approach and act on good impulses and that is a really valuable part of the creative process.
Women in technology can do anything. They can shine and succeed as much as anybody, and the guiding light to that is to follow your passion. I encourage women to find their purpose, and if you love technology then find the purpose behind it. Technology for technology’s sake is empty, so find what it’s about for you personally.