What is StarWind in a nutshell?
Headquartered in the US and with offices in Ukraine and Spain, StarWind Software is a company pushing the edge of storage virtualization.
StarWind’s core product, StarWind Virtual SAN, eliminates any need for an expensive SAN or NAS or other physical shared storage. It seamlessly integrates into the hypervisor for unbeatable performance and simplicity of use. The company’s latest offering is StarWind HyperConverged Appliance, a turnkey solution that unifies servers, spindle disks and flash, hypervisor and associated software into a pre-tested and pre-configured setup.
History, masterminds behind the company, and how did they come up with the idea?
Artem Berman and Anton Kolomeytsev took up the development of software for data virtualization when such a term had not even been invented. They basically invented the wheel. How did they come up with this groundbreaking idea?
The life of Berman, an alumnus of the Institute of Market Economy, Social Politics and Law, in Kherson, Ukraine, was tough at the end of the 1990s. Berman was partially paralyzed in an accident: in 1992, he dived into the Dnieper River and broke his neck. Artem had a computer back then, so he started programming and put a lot of effort into his hobby.
For over six years, Berman wrote code for an American software vendor in healthcare. Later, he switched to project coordination. In 2002 he became the head of the CIS division of another American IT company, Pocket Technologies. There, he got acquainted with Anton Kolomeytsev. Anton, who by that time had graduated from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute and worked in the USA in the area of information security, was coding as a freelancer.
In 2003, Berman and Kolomeytsev established Rocket Division Software, the company focused on outsourcing of all kinds of IT services. Rocket Division collaborated with IBM’s partner on the deployment of physical SAN in their environment. Artem and Anton analyzed acute the problems their customers faced and came up with solutions to effectively address them.
As a result, after a spin-off from Rocket Division in 2008 Artem and Anton founded StarWind Software that was focused on hyperconvergence and storage virtualization on the whole.
What is the unique factor that sets StarWind apart?
StarWind Software focuses on ROBO and SMB companies. The company explores new markets and deployment scenarios, as its software and hardware become more energy-efficient and reliable.
Website hosting providers, web-design studios, research institutions, schools and colleges, and even the government of the USA and Americanchurch Inc., IT-system vendor to American churches use StarWind’s solutions. Sales in the USA make up 70% of StarWind’s sales, other major customers are from Western European countries.
Attention to customers’ pains. StarWind was one of the first to offer proactive support – service aimed at prediction of issues instead of fixing them after things go south. They keep their solutions as simple as possible and support them well.
Customization. StarWind’s hardware solutions are tailored to customers’ individual needs. Its software does not have hardware compatibility lists, which makes them truly hardware-agnostic and they do not lock users in to any single vendor; that helps to deploy their solutions in literally any scenario.
Clear documentation. StarWind always do its best to provide the customers with detailed guides on how to deploy its solutions. On top, StarWind engineers readily provide installation assistance.
Innovations. StarWind always readily incorporates new technologies in its solutions. They have added NVMe-oF (the protocol for communicating with the superfast flash) support to StarWind Virtual SAN once NVMe storage started becoming popular.
Cost-efficiency. StarWind does its best to make sure that IT environments work like clockwork for the least amount of money.
Relationship with Almaz
Almaz Capital led a $ 3.25 million investment round in StarWind in 2014 along with AVentures and previous StarWind investors, i.e. Veeam Software founders Ratmir Timashev and Andrei Baronov. Almaz Capital has supported the company throughout its existence, and participated in the investment round in 2017. The Almaz Capital team that worked with StarWind consisted of Sasha Galitsky and Pasha Bogdanov. Sasha was a Board member of StarWind from 2014 to 2019.
Pasha Bogdanov, GP of Almaz Capital says: “Starwind hails from the heritage of backup firms that were born in the former Soviet Union in the 90s and early 2000s. Best known representatives of this group are, probably, Acronis (another Almaz portfolio company) and Veeam. Our relationships in these circles told us about Anton Kolomyeytsev, a brilliant software engineer that knows everything about storage. When we learned that Anton paired with Artem Berman, an experienced SW entrepreneur, and attracted capital for his software-defined storage startup from founders of Veeam, we wanted to know more. Anton and Artem wanted to get rid of dedicated storage and to do to storage what VMWare has done for servers. We liked the idea and funded the team. The Starwind became a Gartner Cool Vendor, grew its revenue multiple times.”
Artem Berman: “There are three things I am thankful to Almaz for: the confidence, the money, and the expertise. Almaz was bringing these during the years, and that was constantly helping us take the business to the next level.”
Anton Kolomeytsev: “Almaz Capital came right in time bringing in both money as a fuel to accelerate our business growth and connections as a lubricant to make this race a friction-less and quite pleasant journey.”
In 2019 Almaz Capital sold out StarWind shares to private investors and exited from StarWind. This deal resulted in increasing the share of private investors in StarWind to 90% and partial exit for the founders.
According to Anton Kolomyeysev, CEO and Co-Founder of StarWind: “We are honored to feel the strong belief in the company’s future demonstrated by private investors. We do realize though that our battle keeps going, but surely with this kind of support, we will be able to take our business to the next level and serve our customers even more diligently.”