Building & Managing a Multi-Cloud Platform Deployment w/ Nadim Habr

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Building a multi-cloud platform is no easy feat. Learn how Nadim Habr, CEO at Designhubz, is partnering with the large cloud providers to deliver its AR solution to some of the largest retailers in the world.

Nadim joins the show to discuss:

  • The impact of the pandemic on retail and e-commerce
  • Why focusing on partnerships, distribution and the customer are the keys to Designhubz’ success
  • How Designhubz tackled the challenges of multi-cloud platform deployment and how it has helped them deliver unique value to its customers

Want to hear more stories from high growth software companies? Subscribe to Application Modernization on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or check out our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Application Modernization in your favorite podcast player.

You are listening to application modernization, a show that spotlights the forward thinking leaders of higro software companies. From scaling applications and accelerating time to market to avoiding expensive license and costs, we discuss how you can innovate with new technology and forward thinking processes and save some cash in the process. Let's get into it. Welcome to application modernization. Today we're talking to Nadeem Haba about building and managing a multicloud platform deployment. Nadeem is CEO at design hubs, a Daar and Vir platform that helps retail is create a better online experience. In this episode, we'll talk about building partnerships with cloud providers and why he needed to redesign his infrastructure to facilitate growth. Here we go with our guests, Nadeem Haba. Hi, Nadeem Haba, welcome to application modernization. Are Ross, how are you? Thank you very much for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. Yeah, we're excited to spend the next half an hour or so learning a little bit more about your story, your journey. Can you kick us off by telling us a little bit more about yourself, design hubs and the problem that you're solving. Yeah, sure. So a brief background that by myself, I have a mechanically injuring degree. I'm actually that beneas. moved to the US back and two thousand and thirteen after getting my mechanical engineing degree, I got my automotive degree in the US. Then worked for Mercedes USA for like, I would say six months. That was in Los Angeles and then left came back to Lebanon to start my first venture around the end of two thousand and thirteen, and that was actually we're trying to build the first electric supercar and the me no, that was the actual project, but the front end of this venture was we had actually a workshop for high end cars and supercars were used to do all types of customizations and engine control unit programming and, you know, just getting revenues from that venture and fund our electric supercar project. We were profitable since the first month, but we couldn't trace, unfortunately, a substantial amount of money to fund our Super Car Project. So and the you know, there was a bit of instability and the region. So we ended up selling to a competitor and then I moved to thee where I worked for four years and oil and gas closed several like multimillion dollar deals with the oline gas giants and lad a team of more than hundred people. But during that tenure I always was passionate about technology and I had so many different projects, side projects, taculated like the building software and hardware to solve like real, actual reproblems. The last side project ended up actually being design. So yeah, that's a bit about myself. See, you were, you are, building electric vehicles, ten years ahead of the game. Huh? Yeah, I think so, but didn't work out...

...there. Hey, you were leading, leading from the front. So tell us a little bit more about design hubs. What category does it compete in? What does it do? Help US understand? Sure. So. I'm currently the founder and CEO of design hubs. Design hubs is backed by two of the top accelerators, I would say us, based name the we're backed by text stars and we're part of five hundred startups and Google for startups. What we do is we enable or we empower any ECOMMERCE website or APP with D and Virtual Try on augmented reality visualization with an AI recommendations engine that enables the hyperpersonalized shopping experience with size detection fit and product recommendation. We currently have four core technologies. The first one is our spatial Aar, where you can place any product and your own space, such as furniture, home appliances, arts, any type of product. Our second technology, or our second software, is our try on makeup aar where you can try any makeup product with it, with the recommendation engine as well integrated in it. We also have our try on I were, AAR for anything related to I were and finally, our trying on footwear are for like sneakers, shoes, any any other you know, footwear product. So these are our four core technologies that we that we currently offer. We also have global partnerships from fortune onezero companies to fortune five hundred companies and top tier technology companies such as Microsoft or could sap, Master Card and so on. We work with some of the largest brands across the globe and like idea as one of them, Tata Click as the largest luxury e commerce marketplace in India. They're also one of our customers, and we're engaged with the some of the largest retailers in the US as well, such as steelcase, Waldmark, target and many more. Yeah, it's a very exciting space to be in. I, you know, I really subscribe to this theory that the pandemic has accelerated e commerce by, you know, eight to ten years. In the last you know, twelve months. And you know, as these ECOMMERCE or retail is want to try and compete and create great experiences threeday. Technology plays or plays a role in that. How have you found the last twelve months for your business and what are you hearing from customers with respect to, you know, using D to create better experiences? Yeah, great question, Ross. So at the start, like spot on, actually, the pandemic drastically accelerated the digital transformation and shifted consumer behavior, you know, and pushed us, as we were saying, like five to eight years in the future. What we have seen is at the start of the pandemic, you know, there was a freeze. Everybody went into a panic mode. There was literally nothing happening. Everybody was panic, with a complete panic, and I I still remember these days about but after like three four months, after you know, getting out of this Spanic mode and realizing that there are so many opportunities out there and and this big,...

I would say, downturn, they started to realize the importance of online shopping and off ECOMMERCE. And you know what are the major problems or the major concerns of any ECOMMERCE business? It's mainly conversions. So what's your conversion rate? How many people would actually go to your website and actually end up buying? And then a second problem, which is like really big for ECOMMERCE platforms, is the return rate. So usually, how many customers actually are going to buy and then return the product because of it's not the way they bought it, the image doesn't describe the actually how the actual product looks like. There's no fit, the size isn't correct. Again, so many different, I would say, things that are are wrong in the product because you don't have the I would say that you don't have enough data to make an informed decision while buying the product. And just to give you some numbers, and some regions there are third like the return rates of the products are more than thirty percent. So what you all what you also call free returns, like when you when you buy something, I'd say from Amazon, and you return it, it's free for you, but this is actually costing Amazon a lot of money, and that reached in two thousand and twenty when there was a complete spike and in exponential increase and ecommerce usage that reached like north of five hundred billion dollars. That was the cost of free turns. For us as consumers, it was free, but it costed the online retail market around five hundred billion dollars, and that's like tremendous. That's huge. So this is where we come in at design hubs to solve like these two main, I would say key problems for any ECOMMERCE player. So with DNAAR, what does it do? You want to integrate D and augmented reality and to your ECOMMERCE platform, be it on the website or on the APP. We provide a complete D visualization of the products and we enable the online shoppers to virtually try on the product, such as, for example, try on the makeup or try on eyewear, or placing the furniture in their own space and a very seamless way, without downloading any additional APP or any additional software, just from any browser or any device, with a tap off, a Bouton, you'll be able to virtually try on the product, see the fit, see how it actually looks on you and then make a much more informed decisions because you're able to really understand what you are buying and assess if this product is going to look good on you and if it's going to fit you or if it's a furniture fit and your own space and how it's going to look in your own space. So, having said that, like we're really solving these two problems and removing the doubt from online shoppers. Yeah, I think that's, you know, for me personally, you know, buying, say, sunglasses online, you know, trying to find a pair that fits my face or looks snazzy. You know, I think it would be quite difficult. So, you know, this type of technology I can see helping to streamline that purchase and create a better experience and then, to your point, solve that...

...problem of return rates. Well, we spoke prior to jumping on today about your you know, your go to mark and how you're sort of reaching some of these big retailers and you shed light on your strategy around building partnerships with the cloud providers. Can you share a little bit more about, you know, what you're doing with the clap provide, is why you've taken this approach and how it's helping you reach customers. Yeah, definitely something before I jump into that, and this is for, I would say, first time founders. I consider myself a first time founder, but that's something that I learned, I would say, during the the the hard way. They say. First Time founders focus on product, second time founders focused on distribution, and the distribution, I like it's really one of the most important and crucial part and the deploying your technology and making it scale up, because without distribution, your product doesn't even like is not going anywhere, just going to stay where it is. And at the end of the day, most important, like you're a North Star, if you're a BTB sauce, or if you are mainly any SASS or B to see talking here about, not biotech, for example. Your North Star as a startup is always revenue. So yeah, I would say like distribution is extremely crucial and important. Now to answer your question about partnerships. Yes, we found that there's a huge advantages of establishing partnerships with the global brands and with, you know, a top tier technology companies, because this is how they're going to enable us to scale across different markets and across different industries and or and categories, and we have actually deployed across platform, across platform, I would say, deployment that works across any cloud and order to establish these partnerships and be able, you know, to to set to call sell our software, to to o work out to our partners customers across across different geographies. So we have seen an opportunity there and we are leveraging it. And again, it's it's not easy as it sound like deploy across platform infrastructure. But yes, we really focused on doing that because the opportunity we we had this opportunity and really wanted to to tackle it. So, yeah, that's what out was one of the main things that we already focused on. The other thing is really a channel, partnerships and also, you know, having a very good, I would say, social media strategy, from SEO to enabling customers to find you easily and establishing a brand for yourself. And then, you know, you know, just focusing on on that other like on these categories. So cur selling with these clap virus. For for the audience that is a little unfamiliar with this motion, what it means is striking up a partnership with, say, Marcus Soft Azure and then building your your platform on Azure and then sort of going to market...

...with the asure cells and inside ashes marketplace. So design hubs could, you know, provide an application or an offering inside the market place and then customers like Walmart can, you know, find it and then it's streams lines the you know, Parc process and streamlines the you know ability for you know, Walmart to engage with design hubs. Have I got that right there? To deem, is that sort of the motion and what you're working with, say, as you're and others with? Yeah, yeah, definitely. So this is basically it. We just that's Ay for with Microsoft Asia, we have where are, we have an APP on the market place and then companies and corporations are able to find us on that marketplace and engage with us and engage in a course, stunning partnership with them. Yeah, yeah, I think it's a very smart move. As these corporations start spending and just really using these clad providers more and more, it makes it easy for them to consume new applications because they've already got all their paperwork with asure or aws or whoever. So tell us about the process that you took with redesigning your infrastructure to support this go to markets. So, you know, you told me earlier that you had just, you know, your application running in one platform. Now you had to shift to run it in multiple clouds and then manage it in multiple clouds to enable this go to market. Why did you do this? What challenges did you run into? I'm really interested to hear how you approach this move. Yeah, as you mentioned, there are tremendous challenges, you know. While so first, before taking that decision, we were faced with all these challenges and how we are on how we're going to present or how we're going to deploy a multi cloud infrastructure and we were aware that it's going to it's not going to be something easy and it's going to be challenging. But, having said that, we tried to create an infrastructure that actually would share the main components across all these cloud providers as a core. So having a core infrastructure that shares services present across all these cloud, I would say, providers, and the ploy that and, you know, just make minor iterations to create to that specific cloud. So that was a strategy. Of course, there's a there's a lot more maintenance, there's a lot more you know, always refactoring code and you know, like it's kind of it's a hectic part for for our tech team. But again, we're very much focused on the business side of it and we believe that technical should always follow the business, because business is what's going to make the technical people work and not the other way around. So having a great product but not having it in the market, like you're not going to go anywhere, the company's going to die. So you start with the business, you start with the customer, with the laser focus on your customers, and then you make sure that the customers is what's going to channel your vision and the whole company would follow wherever the customer would take you. So really we had that sand and that...

...sense our you know, our complete laser focus on customers, so having the customers as the starting point and the end destination. So how did you determine like which clap providers to focus on first? Was this customer? Were customers asking for to run on Asure, a run on IT WS? How did you make those decisions? Yeah, to be honest, not not because of customers. It was specifically due to the network. We had the like. In my network, I had connections and different top tier technology companies and all these technology companies actually had a startup programs. From Text Stars we met, we actually went into Microsoft for startups directly during text stars. Before that we were port of Oracle for startups and then, you know, just expanding your network, meeting different stakeholders, doing these introductions. So we decided from their how the partnerships would make sense. When we see a customer, a very important customers of hours on a specific cloud provider, let's say, example, Ikea on Microsoft, would take us, I would say, a month or even less like two weeks, to to get in touch with Ikea through Microsoft, versus six month to a year if we get a chance to doing at alone, and sometimes we want we don't have the chance to do it. So that's the had. That was the key decisions after, you know, first filtering the customers that we need and knowing where they fit in on which cloud provider they work with, and then, you know, tackling tackling that problem from from that perspective. Right. That's that's a really good example. So you able to shrink your you know, the time it took to, you know, reach your customers by leveraging Microsoft the ecosystem, you know, from maybe months to weeks. Right, yeah, wow, okay, so thinking about sort of managing this multi cloud platform deployment, like what's what are the technologies that you're using to, you know, create some of that sort of consistency and make it a little easier to manage? Right, so I'm not like, I'm not purely into the technical aspect of the integration, but I'm aware of our infrastructure and how things would actually work. I can say, like the core I services that were currently using in order to achieve that is that cubernities. We really have the on that because they are able to curate across different clouds and you are able to end the I was with this sort with these services, are able to have an infrastructure that is highly scalable and highly available and at the end of the at the end of the day, that's very much important because we integrate and ECOMMERCE platforms and sometimes the load is tremendous on our servers and we just need to have an infrastructure that's highly available and highly scalable at any point in time but at the same time, not drain us and not like costing us, you know, a tremendous amount of cloud cost like. So that's a very tricky part here and we really...

...needed to take that into consideration as well. Yeah, yeah, certainly so. What advice do you have for for other leaders at high growth software companies? You know, you've got some interesting experience with building these partnerships to point this multi cloud platform. If you could set of list one or two pieces of advice, what would it be for for others? Right, the first one would be laser focus on your customers. There you're again. They are your starting point and your end destination. So customer focus number one. Number two is actually distribution and make sure that you are scaling up and having the right channels, double down on the distribution channels that are giving you a winds and make sure that you are establishing a clear go to market strategy, because scaling is the most important aspect. Scaling off actually is the most important aspect, and this is what can I give you traction and this is what can I give you even more customers and and revenue and investors and grow the company. So the customers number one. Number two is distribution channels, and scanning. Great Words of advice. And my last question. Way You see design hubs in five years time? What's your vision for the company and maybe even the market? Right so, basically, Ross at the stage. We are seeing a tremendous shift to augmented reality across different categories. Like there's a tremendous adoption as well. So bigger, big brands and even big and small brands are really moving towards augmented reality, I would say, in a very, very aggressive way. Be It not just an ECOMMERCE but also an education and manufacturing and in training and many different categories. FACEBOOK and apple are working on their AAR glasses. Like AAR is. It's not like if a R was the future. AAR is the future. A R is is what is going to bridge these virtual reality, these like reality, with the with the like the real world with the virtual realities. So AAR is huge and we're very, very bullish on AAR. So we actually started on like developing our product for B tob we we got a lot of, you know, feedback to enhance our product. We and we continuously do that. Always listen to our customers. The the vision would be using that technology and penetrating again, not shifting the focus from B tob but using all the learnings that we have, what that you have acquired, and shifting opening the Bet Sea Channel, using these immersive technologies and creating a new interface for for ECOMMERCE, again not to someone but bringing bringing the the I would say the shoppers, to experience these...

...technologies through design hubs and completing the purchase somewhere else. Probably. That's one aspect. And then the second aspect that we're working on as something related to cryptocurrencies and and you know, the new hype of NFTS. So this is another thing that we're we're also hopefully going to lead on. So these are the two initiatives that for not very long term, but that there's these are two initiatives that actually we're going to deploy pretty pretty soon and I hope you'll hear the news once we can you share anything about the crypto play at the stage? I'm afraid it's still a bit confidential, to be honest, because we're like it's a very critical subject. But for sure, once we go alive, I'll definitely let you know about it. Right the dame. Is there anything else that we haven't talked about. That, you know, would be useful to share with leaders at HAG growth software companies. I mean these were the main, main things that I really wanted to touch up on. One last thing is never give up. Roller coaster ride, very tough. Sometimes you find yourself like sometimes you find yourself like really nailing it and then and the next five minutes here on the ground. So and it's continuous. It's to continuous. There's always a very, very high levels of stress. So yeah, never give up and, you know, just always pursue your vision and and and, you know, be driven. So yeah, these would be my finite words. Nadeem, it's been a pleasure having you on application modernization. Thank you for your time today. Thank you, rous the pleasure was online. I really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you so much for your time and for having I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Nadeem. If you did, why not share with your friends? If you appreciate this podcast, the number one thing you can do to thank us is forward it to your friends and make sure you subscribe. Application modernization is sponsored by Red Hat, the world's leading provider of enterprise open source solutions. Including High Performing Linux, cloud, container and COUBERNETTI's technologies. Thanks for listening to application modernization, a podcast for high growth software companies. Don't forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player so you never miss an episode, and if you use apple podcast, do us a favor and leave a quick rating by tapping the stars. Join US on the next episode to learn more about modernizing your infrastructure and applications for growth. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (30)