Sydney tech start-up OrionVM sniffs out Series A funding in US


Sydney-based tech start-up OrionVM is preparing to close a Series A round in the United States, with plans to open an office in San Francisco and a datacentre in Silicon Valley.


OrionVM was founded in 2010 by university graduates Sheng Yeo, Joseph Glanville and Alex Sharp, who created an infrastructure-as-a-service platform from scratch in 15 months.


It is now regarded as a leading innovator in the cloud computing industry.


In November last year, OrionVM secured funding from Australian entrepreneur Stephen Baxter and American tech veteran Gordon Bell, understood to be less than $1 million.


Baxter is the co-founder of PIPE Networks, which sold for $370 million, while Bell earned the title of “father of the minicomputer” after building PDP and VAX computers whilst working at Digital Equipment Corp.


Yeo said at the time that the two investors hadn’t taken a very large equity position in the company, the majority of which remains shared among its founders.


Now Yeo and Sharp are in the US, where they are hoping to close a Series A funding round in order to open a datacentre in Silicon Valley and an office in San Francisco.


“We’re here for the next three or four weeks, and we’re planning on moving here shortly, probably towards the end of the year,” Yeo told StartupSmart.


“We’re setting up operations here and hiring staff as well – we’re just basically expanding… At the moment, we have meetings lined up and we’re meeting with people.”


“We’ll most likely be putting the office in San Francisco and a datacentre in Silicon Valley.”


Yeo says OrionVM is hoping to raise “a couple of million” as it seeks to establish a presence in the US.


“We’ve hired all the staff we need [in Australia] – we have 13 in Sydney,” he says.


“The company in Australia is stable and running well. We’ve got a lot of clients and we’re signing a couple of large deals. Because of that, it’s the right time [to expand].”


“Gordon Bell is based in the Valley, so we lined up when he thought would be the right time.”


Yeo says the best way to judge investors is to approach the partnership in the same way you would approach a partnership with a co-founder or life partner.


“You’re going to have to work well together, and they should bring out your strengths,” he says.


“Start-ups spend a lot of time getting too involved in trying to raise cash… We’ve been given a lot of [funding] offers over the years, but the cash isn’t that important.”


“No matter what happens, you have to be self-sufficient. You can’t rely on your investors.”


“A lot of businesses consider the win in the history of their company is when they raise money but it should be when they are making the money.”