Startup Pitch: Helio - the Airbnb of the cloud


By creating a global spot market for compute, Helio enables its customers to execute large scale workloads at significantly lower prices and much faster. The company with an experienced team has attracted first customers and is now looking for investors for its CHF2 million seed round.


This is the first article of our start-up pitch series. Until the summer break startupticker in collaboration with Swisspreneur will introduce Swiss start-ups on the search for investors. Find out how to apply in a separate article.

Wasted server capacity
Demand for computing power is growing faster than ever before. Artificial intelligence, simulations, and machine learning applications, among others, are responsible for this. Therefore, more and more data centers are being built. But they are not used efficiently. Between 80 and 90% of server capacity in the world is sitting idle. This wastes money but also energy, which is necessary for the production and operation of the servers.

Helio wants to change this. "We are the AirBnB for the cloud," says CEO Kevin Häfeli. On its open platform, the start-up from Zurich connects the idle compute of data centers (80-90% of the global compute is sitting idle) with the rising demand enabling providers and consumers to execute their large-scale workloads at significantly lower prices. Workloads are automatically matched and executed within the best spot on Helio's Compute Delivery Network. The intelligent algorithms determine the best available compute resources and orchestrate the execution.


First customers on board
The start-up has already attracted first customers. "We were able to sign new contracts even during the corona crisis," explains Kevin Häfeli. Customers are so called render farms which are helping 3D artists to render their work.

Helio was launched by two experiences co-founders. Kevin Häfeli worked in the cloud industry and for tech start-ups such as Zattoo for over 12 years. Co-founder Christoph Buchli has ten years of experience. And also, the six engineers Helio employs today did not come directly from university to the start-up. "I think the recruitment of our experienced team is our biggest achievement so far", comments the CEO.

Raising CHF2 million
To finance the start-up, the founders have already generated 400,000 Swiss francs from friends and family and first VCs. The seed round with first institutional investors was scheduled for the second quarter of 2020. But the crisis made the task much more demanding. "Institutional investors are currently focusing on existing investments," says Häfeli. He is now targeting investors who have experience with the cloud and understand Helio's technology and business model. He believes the chances are better this way.

Helio is looking for two million francs for the seed round. The money will be used to further develop the platform, enter new verticals on the customer side and expand the sales channel. The team has already today two salespeople. This focus on sales is remarkable for a seed-stage start-up in Switzerland and is probably related to Häfeli's business experience. "Engineers are not the best salespeople," the CEO has learned over the years.

(Stefan Kyora)Picture: Kevin Häfeli (left), Christoph Buchli