Malgorzata Ratajska-Grandin – Startup Program Director at OVHcloud
After a successful 4 years effectively supporting over 2000 startups around the world, the newly named “OVHcloud Startup Program” relaunches in 2020 and marks the start of an improved program. Startups who join the 1-year program will receive specific tech support and credits on OVHcloud products right from the get-go. Together with a strong ecosystem of business partners, the OVHcloud startup Program provides reliability and security to innovative businesses, helping you facilitate exponential, and international growth.
Małgorzata Ratajska-Grandin is a Global Leader at OVHcloud Startup Program. Previous to this role, Małgorzata held the position of President of Carrots Foundation, an international non-profit organization whose main mission is to attract women to the tech sector. She co-founded a mobile health startup Yagram Health. In 2017 she was rewarded with the title Innovator under 35by MIT Technology Review for the mobile app dedicated to mums-to-be. She received her M.A. in Political Sciences from Warsaw University, she studied at Sciences Po Paris and received a French Government fellowship for her second Master at Université Panthéon-Sorbonne. In 2018 was nominated for the prestigious International Visitor Leadership Program for Women Leaders in STEAM, in which she represented Poland. Małgorzata is the mother of two wonderful girls, Zofia and Julia.
With a strong presence in Canada since 2011, OVHcloud is a global and leading European cloud provider operating 400,000 servers in its own 30 data centers in 4 continents. Cloud computing provides access to business data and applications from anywhere, at any time, on any mobile device—all at a reasonable price when compared with the cost of hosting servers in-house.
In this interview, we chatted with Malgorzata Ratajska-Grandin, to learn more about the OVHCloud Startup Program and what is the main motive behind its’ launch where she also discussed challenges small businesses face when it comes to understanding cloud tech
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to our audience?
I joined OVHcloud in January and before this role, held a variety of positions that broadened my skill set. I started my career in Brussels at the heart of the European Union and was in charge of entrepreneurship and innovation. After holding this position for a few years, I wanted to expand from this macro-level role of policy.
I’m a builder at heart and, being an entrepreneur, I love – as we call in Brussels – “the golden page” of jumping into a true adventure, which was my start-up in the mobile house sector. At this stage, I also became a Mom which I felt helped me hone on patient and engagement channels for this very specific field. I loved it a lot.
My startup took four years and it was a rollercoaster of emotions along with the highs and the lows. We won accolades, we did an exciting commercial development, but we also had failed. I think reflecting on your downfalls is very important in the life of an entrepreneur and then at a certain stage, it was important for us to stop that.
It was around the end of 2017 when we didn’t close the investment. At that point, I had all this important experience that I learned over the four years of building my startup and I took another position – in the women empowerment sectors – the role of Leader of the Community of Women in Tech. My experience here was not for nothing as I felt there is still a lot to do in this sector. I was Managing Director for over two years and felt that my mission was very well defined and so when I reached my goals within the role, I decided to move forward. Which is how I arrived at OVHcloud.
Last year has been a very interesting year, one that none of us have seen in a lifetime. What would you say is the one word that you would use to describe this year so far and what is the one word you would use to describe how you feel about the future?
I agree, 2020 has been a year that no one could imagine, and I think that even though it presented its challenges, it was a year of opportunities as well. I’m optimistic when it comes to the future. Across all sectors. We need to move forward as a society. We can focus on the difficult transformation that has happened or we can choose to look at the events of the past year as an opportunity for new businesses to emerge stronger than ever. For example, at OVHCloud we’ve had the perspective of needing to support this difficult transformation and the small and medium enterprises with the challenges related to scaling and data privacy – there is a mission to be accomplished by SMBs and we can be here to support this.
It sounds like OVHCloud has completely fallen into the hands of technologists and businesses. Can you share a few examples of the core services that OVHCloud provides?
We are a cloud provider that supports more than 1.6 million customers across the globe. We deliver cloud infrastructures around three services including our bare metal service, private cloud, and public cloud, which we also call the hybrid cloud. Recently we launched a range of web hosting offers in Canada with domain names – which could be very important to efficient design for online visibility for small and medium businesses such as e-tailers or web agencies or software houses.
What exactly is the OVHCloud Startup Program and what is the main motive behind its’ launch?
The startup program is similar to an accelerator and we are here to support startups in their journey to become successful companies.
We deliver every credit to DC infrastructures to private and public cloud and we also support those companies in their business development – creating bridges between industries and between our customers, enabling them to gain new markets.
The startup program was launched nearly five years ago and so far, we have supported over 1,000 startups across the globe, investing over $6 million Euros. In 2020, we relaunched the program with new energy and revamped value for the position, and created two customer journeys for startups and scale-ups enabling them better growth and better market access.
Can you tell me how the OVHCloud startup program benefits Canadian startups?
While we operate in Canada and programs are open for Canadian startups, we are not fully deployed yet in Canada. Canadian startups, however, can apply to our program. As a member of our program, you receive access to credits for infrastructures, support, and software to optimize your infrastructure and the use of our product and services along with communication and marketing opportunities that we create through the online webinars or conferences or other use cases published. We have also deployed a committee to a commitment platform and have the commitment to be in contact with other peers and the community of members who also use the startup program which could be very useful for business development.
You mentioned how businesses have to apply so can you tell me how businesses would apply to the OVHcloud Startup Program?
Signing up is very simple, all you have to do is go on our website at startup.OVHCloud.com and there’s an application form to fill in. We commit to reviewing within five working days and are agile as a team and the process is straightforward. Then we need to validate the contract once you are accepted and you are a member of the program already.
In regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think is the toughest obstacle for small businesses in Canada to overcome when it comes to understanding cloud tech?
I would say there are two core challenges that have been a core need of focus during COVID-19. The first is the challenge to maintain long-term operations and the second is to scale infrastructure and online presence accordingly. These challenges were further emphasized in the findings of our survey done in partnership with Maru/Blue. I think that conquering these hurdles is possible in collaboration with OVHCloud as we are delivering the strategic advice for optimization on infrastructure choice or solution of products to reach and overcome these obstacles.
As COVID-19 has caused major shifts in consumer behavior and these shifts are affecting how small businesses operate, the low-tech economy and virtual remote environment are accelerating the need for digital transformation. What areas of their business models should small businesses look to digitize and what role is your organization playing in this transformation?
I think that the top priority for small and medium businesses is to identify those obstacles they face in scaling their infrastructure or, depending on the businesses, areas you are operating in. For example, if you are a health tech startup and are dealing with sensitive data, you need to take into consideration the legislation and how to well protect your data and guarantee the sovereignty of it – which is different than if you are an e-retailer preparing for Black Friday. There are different elements to take into consideration and different models in different contexts, so I would say that it is very important to prepare your platform for scalability.
The second is to be sure that the service you deliver to your customers/users is meeting the highest standards of data protection sovereignty and the infrastructure you are using is secure and certified for that. Finally, that your business is prepared for resilience – consistently operating for resilience.
Regarding OVHcloud, what was the effect that COVID-19 had on the company and what would you say has been the most hectic challenge that you faced?
As a company, we are facing the same challenges as other sectors. First, the challenge of guaranteeing the security of our employees – we changed our method of operation to cater to remote workers along with catering to employees who still had to handle elements of the business that were not remote such as DC (data center) workers.
On that front, because we needed to guarantee and maintain the continuity of our business delivery to our customers, we were able to quickly push a lever for over 3,000 people to work remotely and guarantee this integration of the operating model through the perfection of servers in Canadian data center’s to over 800 servers in the weeks following the start of the pandemic. We not only achieved our goals but overcame them. The takeaway being that each crisis is extremely important, and we need to look at it with the lens of supporting the transformation of the economy to work with a more digital-based model that better serves customers and shifts.
Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share with our audience?
Be strong and continue to innovate – OVHcloud is here to support you in your journey and support the freedom for innovation.