Any new entrepreneur entering the startup world could learn a few lessons from founder and CEO of Peak, Luke Norris, who started his first company at age 14. While the name, Computer Resale at Practical Prices (CRAPP), may not have been a homerun, the lessons he learned by jumping into his own business venture at a young age served him for years to come.
“I had no formal education. It was trial by fire,” Norris said, who graduated early from his high school in Portland, Oregon at the age of 16.
Then Norris dove head first into his computer repair and resale company.
“I remember my dad would say to me, ‘What if this doesn’t work out? Aren’t you worried?’ That’s not a mindset entrepreneurs can have. You can’t worry about failure,” Norris said.
A Channel-Centric Cloud Model
Norris now runs Peak (formerly PeakColo) which is the only cloud-computing company that is 100 percent channel-centric in the marketplace. Just last week Peak closed another $4 million round, bringing its total amount of funding to over $16 million since the company was founded in 2006. The funding will, among other things, help expand its data centers to other markets on top of existing centers in Seattle, Denver, Chicago, New Jersey, New York and the United Kingdom.
The channel-centric approach means that instead of selling cloud services to end-user businesses Peak only sells to partner companies known as value-added resellers, distributors and service providers. Each partner then adds its own industry-specific services, relabels Peak’s cloud and sells the services under its own brand.
“We serve as an extension of our partners’ teams,” said Laurel Burton, VP of Marketing at Peak. “We want to help our channel partners showcase their brands.”
When asked where Norris got the idea for the channel-centric model, he said, “I had to figure out a way to scale the company that would stand out—I had to build a unique business that people couldn’t easily replicate.”
Since August of last year Peak has doubled the number of partner companies they are working with. Norris said his long term goal is take the company public. In the next year, he hopes to expand to three to five new markets including Austin, Portland, Virginia and Phoenix.
The Future of Cloud Computing
Norris said he sees the future trends in the cloud industry as constantly evolving and becoming more regionalized.
“Year to year cloud technology it is a different industry – which makes it a fun and adventurous place to work,” Norris said. “In the future, you will need a cloud service right in your backyard—that’s what everyone will want.”
Norris, who was a nominee for the Denver Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award in 2012, offered this sound advice for young entrepreneurs starting out:
“There’s never a great time to begin a company, the best time was probably yesterday,” Norris said. “You truly just need to take the leap. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that they had to pivot and fail several times. The sooner you get there, the more successful you’ll be. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is not to fear failure and see every setback as an opportunity.”
Image: "Man climbing mountain" via Shutterstock