Stay customer-focused. These customers are the ones who will use your product and remain loyal to your brand.
Dmitriy Akulov is the Founder of PerfOps, which offers load balancing, smart global routing services, and infrastructure monitoring. Dmitriy is a web performance expert with years of experience in the CDN and DNS industries.
Where did the idea for PerfOps come from?
I enjoy building things related to servers and infrastructure, content delivery networks (CDNs), and domain name system (DNS), so I’ve focused on that space since the beginning. When I was 16 years old and working as a junior developer, I built jsDelivr, a free multi-CDN for open source projects. Today, it serves 45 billion requests every month.
I wanted to stay in the same industry, so after a few other positions, I started my own consulting company, and one of the many projects I built took off and became a startup company of its own, called PerfOps.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work with a remote team, and I spend a lot of my day chatting with my developers and working on new projects. I hire people that thrive in a remote environment, which makes us all productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
At first, I tried to do most of the tasks myself. I was running a one-person company, and I was writing the code, managing the servers, finding customers, and doing support. Eventually, the revenue I was generating from consulting was enough to hire a full-time developer and part-time designer to help me build the services that would grow the company. Finding the right people definitely helps me bring ideas to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Really anything related to servers and infrastructure, content delivery networks (CDNs), and domain name system (DNS). I’ve been focused on that space since my teens, so advancements and updates are interesting to me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I travel extensively and work from other countries. This invigorates me and gives me a clear head. It also helps me have a much better work/life balance, which can help make anyone more productive.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Opening an office is not critical at first. I wasted a lot of money opening an office as soon as possible and hiring people to work there. I found out that the value of doing so was quite low, especially with such a small team. Hiring full-time remote team members is a much better strategy at the beginning stages of a company. Only after the team has grown, and you can really afford a good office space, then it makes more sense.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That it’s easier to secure investment that you think. One of the main reasons I didn’t pursue funding our company sooner was because I thought it would be too difficult to do, especially in Europe. In fact, it was an investor who contacted me first, and his interest in investing pushed me to look into it more.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Travel and work remotely. This really recharges me. Even though I stay online and regularly work during my travels, I can still spare a few hours to go sightseeing and explore new cities and places. After working from an office for so long, it can be very energizing to work from a coffeehouse in different cities around the world.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We are customer-focused. We were literally the first ones to offer DNS and CDN data for free to everyone on our websites, cdnperf.com and dnsperf.com. Existing companies that had similar data were hiding it behind sales calls and contracts. Even now with the release of our latest load-balancing product, FlexBalancer, we are the only company offering a free plan, free online tools, transparent pricing, free support, and a polished user interface. We are first and foremost trying to help people, regardless of who they are and their budget.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of the main mistakes I made was not investing enough in sales and marketing early on. Google did all the work for us, which was amazing, but if we had a sales team from day one, it would’ve made things much easier later on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It’s a very technical idea, however it’s something I always need but it’s being done only by one company which I believe does it very poorly. That is “Docker on the Edge.” Basically, the ability to run a docker container in multiple regions at the same time, effectively deploying custom code on a CDN.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent something around that amount sponsoring a local event for startups. It was a nice thing to do and it almost always results in positive PR.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
One thing that helps me stay productive is using the Gmail feature that shows my “unread emails” first. I just mark anything I need to do as “unread” and I never forget about them since I use email all day long and they appear at the top of my inbox.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really enjoyed Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. It’s both inspirational and explains how products are truly built.
What is your favorite quote?
“No pain no gain.” I believe it really applies to startup founders.
- Take time to find the right team. Doing so will ultimately make it easier for your company to grow.
- Stay customer-focused. These customers are the ones who will use your product and remain loyal to your brand.
- Travel and work remotely, if possible. This recharges you and helps you dive back into work with a clear mind.
- Don’t open a physical office until it’s absolutely necessary.