Chris Crosby of Compass Datacenters

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Chris Crosby, the founder and CEO of Compass Datacenters, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Compass Datacenters – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

Like most new business ventures, Compass was founded to address specific customer needs that were being overlooked by the existing players in the marketplace – in this case, the large wholesale data center providers. The business model used by these companies is based on building a large facility and leasing the capacity to multiple organizations over time. The limitations of this model provided the opportunities that became the impetus for establishing the company. Specifically, these limitations could be characterized as follows:

  • Minimal customer control over every aspect of their data center facility
  • Lack of geographic flexibility: The capital intensive nature of the conventional wholesale data center business model necessitated that their facilities be built near highly populated metro areas like Chicago, San Francisco, and New York. A major element of Compass’ strategy is to build data centers where the customer wants them – places like Nashville and Raleigh, for example.
  • Customization: Traditional wholesale providers offer their customers little in the way of customization options. Based on our experience, we saw this as a major customer limitation. We developed our data center designs to allow customers a variety of choices to address the specific needs of their facility, thereby enabling them to have the data center they want, where they want it, at an aggressive price point.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

I don’t think the obstacles that we dealt with here at Compass were all that different than most new companies. Financing is always an issue early on and building the right team is always hard. Probably the biggest issue that we faced was educating a market that was so used to doing business in a multi-tenant way. Of course, this has taken time, but we’ve reached the point where the market understands our unique value proposition.

What does the future hold for Compass Datacenters?

I think the future looks very bright. Cloud growth was growing at a rapid pace prior to COVID-19, but the impact of the pandemic on the way we work, communicate, and entertain ourselves will have lasting impact. We expect the volume of data associated with everything from ZOOM calls to gaming to increase dramatically for the foreseeable future, which means substantial increases in compute and storage requirements. All of this translates into a market for data center space where we can expect demand to outpace supply across all markets, both domestically and internationally. I believe our use of mass-customizable designs, profoundly simple processes/procedures, and a mature supply chain places us in an advantageous position to capitalize on the opportunities arising from the shifts in the societal and business environments.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Dallas?

I think Dallas is already recognized as a center for technological innovation. Every time I look, it seems like a number of new high-tech companies have emerged. This makes sense when you consider the caliber of the education system, the high quality workforce in the area, along with the extremely business friendly climate found in Texas. To a certain extent, these elements become self-perpetuating and make the area increasingly attractive for new entrepreneurial investment.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I’m not sure I can offer any advice that can’t be found in a hundred books or a plethora of articles. What I can say, based on my personal experience, is keep looking forward and have faith in your vision. Passion, ability, and opportunity are needed for success. Of all of those, opportunity is the most important. There are obstacles that arise in the path of any new opportunity and, in many instances, it’s perseverance that ultimately decides who succeeds and who fails.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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