Aiming for the “Clouds”

Class of 2001 alumnus Ted Benson reflects on founding software development company, Cloudstitch.

Edward “Ted” Benson ’01 has always been a builder at heart, fueled by a love of coding and computer science that materialized at Steward. His passion for digital creation has led him to a career in software development in which he’s worked for such technology titans as Amazon, BBN Technologies, and Google. But three years ago, he added another title to his resume: entrepreneur.

After graduating from Steward, Mr. Benson (son of JK-12 Technology Coordinator Robin Ricketts) went on to earn a B.S. in computer science from the University of Virginia in 2005 followed by both a M.S. and PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2010 and 2014 respectively. His time spent as a research assistant and instructor during his graduate years at MIT sparked a brief interest in becoming a professor, but instead, Mr. Benson decided to pursue a career in tech start-ups in San Francisco.

Shortly after his arrival in the Golden City, Mr. Benson began working on an idea that would become his biggest achievement to date. Using research from his graduate dissertation, he began working on a software platform that web developers could use to build a website using consumer-grade tools rather than the often complicated infrastructures normally used. From there, Cloudstitch was born.

The goal of Cloudstitch, a web development platform, is to make programming and infrastructure accessible to everyone. It lets users manage and update websites entirely from their office suite, so there’s no need for custom servers and databases. Cloudstitch handles all the hard engineering, so users interact with their sites as if they were just spreadsheets, word documents, and shared folders.

“The idea behind Cloudstitch is that creating web applications is just too complicated these days—even for professionals—and it ends up taking so long,” Mr. Benson said. “I always joke that in 2017, physicists can teleport matter—granted, it’s very small matter. But regardless, if they can do that, it shouldn’t take a month for someone to build a working website. Cloudstitch makes the process of building a site so much quicker, and it’s one that is familiar and easy to use by everyone.”

Three years after its founding, the company was purchased/absorbed by Instabase—a data-driven software platform created by fellow MIT graduate Anant Bhardwaji—this past fall. “We are going to keep our service running, but we’ll now be focusing on integrating with the Instabase platform and products,” Mr. Benson said of the new venture. “It’s really exciting to play a part in this new project.”

Mr. Benson described the process of starting a business a “rollercoaster,” but one that is incredibly rewarding when you’ve finally achieved your goal. “You have to have the determination to run through a thousand brick walls, and once you’ve gone through the thousandth wall, you have to come out on the other side smiling and ready to energetically give your pitch again,” he said.

On his time at Steward (where he attended from grades 2-12), Mr. Benson said he is grateful to have grown up in an intimate environment in which he was encouraged to try his hand at everything.

“There’s something magical about having the freedom to be yourself,” he said. “The community of support and family feeling really allowed me to explore anything I wanted as a child, ranging from sports to science, and I was never afraid to try something new. That’s what Steward gives its students.”

This story was originally published in the 2018 edition of Steward's magazine, "The Colonnade." Click here to see the complete digital edition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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