Startup Spotlight: This former Microsoftie wants to replace your PC with a $100 cloud device

GreenBridge Computing CEO David Yunger.

GreenBridge Computing CEO David Yunger.

When David Yunger left Microsoft to start GreenBridge Computing, he knew that his cheap-yet-powerful computer work stations would help schools around the world gain access to the latest technology.

But fast forward to today, and now it’s Fortune 500 companies that are showing serious interest in what Yunger’s company has built.

Bellevue-based GreenBridge Computing, founded in 2011, has created a low cost cloud computing device that can reduce hardware expenses and lower energy consumption by replacing desktop personal computers.

“We are the only company on the planet who delivers Windows enterprise-class computing at $100,” Yunger said.

Traditionally, schools and enterprise customers will purchase a regular PC for each “workstation” — some may have done so recently due to the lack of support for Windows XP.

greenbridge“This is a costly approach and leads to waste — from an economic and PC utilization perspective, as well as from a management and energy standpoint,” Yunger explained.

Instead, GreenBridge offers a $100 HUB 400 zero-client, which has no processor and runs off a base operating system Yunger helped create during a three-year stint at Microsoft called Windows MultiPoint Server 2012. These devices allow schools and enterprises to run up to 20 independent Windows 8 workstations, each with their own HUB 400, when networked to a single server or PC.

Microsoft has taken notice, and last month, GreenBridge Computing signed a global alliance agreement with Microsoft Technology Centers worldwide. To learn more, we caught up with Yunger for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature presented by Comcast Business.

startupspotlightExplain what you do so our parents can understand it: We help organizations cut IT capital costs by 80 percent and reduce operating expenses and energy use via cloud-based devices that replace computers.

Inspiration hit us when: I met Fabiola, a 12th-grader in Haiti. Fabiola’s school was wiped out by the 2010 earthquake. At that time, I was part of a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment that ultimately rebuilt 50 schools with solar power, long-range Wi-Fi, teacher training, and digital access via Windows MultiPoint Server. Our team brought down the first server in a suitcase, and had a room full of students surfing the web within hours (at a school that had no electricity until the solar was installed).

While many of Fabiola’s classmates looked up Facebook and YouTube, Fabiola immediately started conducting a Wikipedia search on the human reproductive system. Fascinated, I asked her what sparked her interest. What she said next, I’ll never forget.

“My whole life, I’ve dreamed of being a doctor,” she said. “And until this moment, there wasn’t one resource in my whole community where I could get the information I just accessed in a few seconds. And for the first time today, I believe my dream can become reality.”

That was the moment my heart launched the company — I knew that there were “Fabiolas” all over the world, even right here in Washington.

My fourth grader’s classroom is a stone’s throw from Microsoft in Bellevue, Wash. Bellevue is investing in precisely the same education technology Microsoft is deploying in Haiti, Africa, and across the developing world: Direct virtualization via Windows MultiPoint Server.

I find it amazing — and incredibly inspiring — that the same technology enjoyed by students right here in Bill Gates’ backyard is transforming learning for tens of thousands of future leaders across Haiti and Africa. I still get goosebumps every time I share the “Fabiola” story. And that’s why I left a great job at Microsoft and launched GreenBridge Computing, which is helping young people and businesses around the world bridge the gap to the cloud.

greenbridge121

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: Mix of angel and bootstrap. Why? Because we can!

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: Our unique alliance with Microsoft, exclusive key supplier relationships and “blue ocean” strategy — targeting a massive market (enterprises and schools) with a disruptively-priced product.

The smartest move we’ve made so far: Strategic alliance with Microsoft — showcasing our devices in their Retail Experience Center and Microsoft Technology Centers worldwide. This has become a force multiplier for the company, immediately multiplying our sales team by a factor of 10x and resulting in a number of distribution partnerships that will take our business to scale without increasing costs.

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: Selling servers direct to schools. We wasted too much time learning this was a really bad idea.

GreenBridge CEO David Yunger with education leaders from Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, British Council, and Microsoft.

GreenBridge CEO David Yunger with education leaders from Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, British Council, and Microsoft.

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: Gates. We’re betting the farm on the Microsoft cloud.

Our world domination strategy starts when: We land the next few enterprise accounts, which should get us to the tipping point and/or domino effect where we see a number of fast followers in the Fortune 500 space.

Rivals should fear us because: We’re about to massively disrupt the PC and thin client businesses by delivering a superior product at less than half the price. And we can do it because we have virtually zero overhead, thanks to a unique partnership and supply chain/inventory model.

We are truly unique because: We are the only company on the planet who delivers Windows enterprise-class computing at $100.

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: Moving our business from server infrastructure (too expensive to support and hard to scale) to cloud-based devices and services.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: With God, all things are possible. Perseverance pays off. Never give up, and don’t be afraid to reinvent the business.

GeekWire’s regular Startup Spotlight feature offers an inside look at emerging Pacific Northwest tech companies. Check out the archive of past profiles here. Do you run a standout startup in the Pacific Northwest? Apply for Startup Spotlight.

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  • balls187

    We’ve nearly come full circle.

    Soon you’ll have to schedule time at your university computer lab, and write all your programs will need to be loaded via punch card.

  • ricrude

    No processor? I think you mean no Intel processor. And students would be better off with a low-cost Linux laptop so they could learn GNU and other open source tools rather than be locked into an dumb terminal connected to a legacy business operating system.

    • Mike

      *cough* OpenShift *cough*…oh wait, you probably don’t know what that is. Welcome to 2014, you’re still stuck in 1999 when burning DVD’s were all the rage.

  • Guest

    Couldn’t you just get a raspy pi for like $100 and use that as a compu instead? It even has a processor.