Cloud Business: How to Start and Find Your First 20 Enterprise Customers


Today, the cloud powers all major industries. Both small and large businesses are moving their workloads to the cloud. One of the main reasons for this shift is because it’s easier to set up and maintain than traditional on-premise infrastructure. Cloud has slowly but consistently become an integral part of the modern IT scenario. As more and more businesses embrace the cloud, there is a steady increase in demand for public cloud services.

Many start-ups today are looking for ways to become a part of the booming cloud business industry. Even certain industry segments such as telcos, ISPs and data centres are diversifying their offerings to include cloud infrastructure services. Even though the hyperscale cloud providers will always be there, their local reach is quite limited due to data localisation norms and the market sizes that aren’t large enough for them to operate effectively in these areas.

If you are thinking of starting a regional public cloud service, this is a good time to begin and create customized cloud services that cater to the needs of enterprises and businesses locally.

How do you start a cloud business?

Getting started with a cloud business requires the right mix of technology and solution partners, to begin with. If you are ready to take the plunge here is a quick list of things you will need to get you started. We have also put together a detailed blog on mantras for building a successful cloud business for your reference.

Here are some highlights from the blog to get you started:

  • Leverage open-source technology to help you keep your input costs low and build a competitive business case.
  • Proprietary stacks from leading IT vendors appear very promising initially but in the long run, they lock you into their ecosystem, leading to a lack of innovation and escalating costs.
  • Going beyond IaaS, offer a digital marketplace to extend your services to offer PaaS and SaaS.
  • Build your cloud to address maximum use cases.
  • If you are a telco or an ISP, you would already have a strong B2B network business. You should leverage the same by offering Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) as an extension of your IP-VPN/MPLS/SD-WAN services.

How much is it going to cost?

While diversifying services and getting started with a cloud business, expenses are the first thought on our minds. This is exactly why local ISPs, telcos and data centres are best suited to take up this opportunity. They have the required infrastructure that creates a strong foundation for building a cloud setup. They also have strong existing relationships with many businesses and customers which works to their advantage while selling their cloud offerings. They already possess the key assets required to provide cloud services – a broad base of enterprise customers, data centre space and an extensive internet backbone.

If you would like to understand the costs of initial setup, timelines for operational breakeven and capital breakeven, you can read our detailed post on The Economics of an In-country Cloud Business.

Next – How to get your first 20 enterprise customers?

Now that you finally set up a new cloud business and it’s going to go live soon, the most important part is  to identify and create a roadmap to where and how you will acquire your customers. It’s time to think about your go-to-market strategy.

Broadly, if you are an ISP, data centre or a telco service provider, the way in which you approach your first few customers is different than if you are a start-up and a new entrant in the cloud services domain. To begin with, explore your existing strengths. Here are a few pointers:

If you are a service provider and have an established enterprise customer base

If you are an ISP, telecom or a data centre service provider, you already have a strong network of existing sales channels to work with. Your existing customers and potential customers are a good place to begin. Capitalise on these existing channels to sell new service offerings. Your existing enterprise customers already have a good opinion about your services and will be more receptive to the new services you launch. Once you have exhausted these prospects, you can move on to others.

If you are a start-up and new to the cloud domain

If you are a new entrant in the cloud space with no prior infrastructure setup or no customer base, you will need to start with creating awareness of your business in the region. Building your presence across various marketing channels will take time. But, using digital channels is the fastest way to get started and reach out to potential customers. Almost all the local businesses, start-ups and enterprises have a digital presence. Generate leads from digital channels and develop a sales channel. This will give you a good start.

After this, you can move on to the more granular aspects of acquiring customers for your cloud business. Here are five tips to help you get going:

Positioning of your cloud service: If you are an early mover in the cloud space in your country, you can think of positioning statements like, “1st Public Cloud in – region” or “1st cloud to bring true cloud computing into – region“. If there are already multiple players in the public cloud space, you can also have positioning statements like, “Fastest cloud in – region“. Whatever you decide to go with, this should be the primary tagline in all your sales and marketing communication.

Focusing on a formal “service launch”: Doing a big-bang launch of your cloud service would ensure that you garner the right attention from media, influencers and potential customers. This may not be possible in the current COVID scenario; however, virtual events are trending these days. You can do a virtual launch event and invite key influencers and early customers to talk at the event.

Inducing trials: Cloud services are all about user experience, and getting customers to experience your cloud is the key factor to scale adoption. From a strategy perspective, actively focus on inducing trials for your cloud. Trials would enable users to test their applications on your cloud and experience the first-hand benefit for themselves.

Choosing when to target which customer segment: When you start, the first set of users you need to go after is the early adopters. These are typically IT/ITeS companies and start-ups that are very focused on cloud performance. The sheer fact that you are present in-country and therefore would be delivering considerably lower latency makes you a better choice for them. After 3-6 months, you should target mid-sized enterprise customers when you have some active referenceable customers. Herein your USPs would be Data Localization, Latency and local currency billing. Spend the first year consolidating these customer segments and building a lot of customer references and case studies. Armed with these, you should go to large enterprise and government customers and position yourself as an established and leading cloud player in the market.

Selling to government customers: If government customers are a primary segment that you want to focus on, it will help to create a dedicated cloud zone for their consumption. Government bodies/agencies/ministries are petrified about hosting their data in a multi-tenanted domain with other private enterprise users. By committing to build a dedicated cloud zone, you are essentially creating a virtual private cloud for the government. This will help you to get your government business going.


While most businesses are planning migration to cloud services, it’s a great time to enter into the domestic cloud market. The increasing emphasis on data localisation has increased the demand for local cloud options. With the right mix of technology stack and the right go-to-market strategy, you can align your business to succeed in the local cloud market. The approach you take in consolidating your strengths with your existing customer channels and reaching out to new customers will help provide a good launch to your cloud services. Even though the hyperscale cloud providers will always be there, they have quite a few limitations when it comes to localised requirements enterprises. Selling your cloud locally will bring your first few customers to you.

We are sure this will help you in choosing the right solution and adopt the right go-to-market strategy to get started.

If you are looking for some help in building your public cloud services, do reach out to us. Our cloud experts will be happy to assist and discuss your requirements.

Sunando Bhattacharya

Sunando comes from an IT services background, and has over 23 years experience with companies like Orange Business Services, Spectranet, Sify and NTT-NetMagic wherein he was responsible for Business Strategy, Sales, Alliances, Product Development and Pre-sales functions. At IndiQus, he drives the entire business strategy, and also leads the HR and Finance teams. Sunando did his SMP from IIM Calcutta.

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