For alumnus Dan Belcher, Ray Kinnunen’s class­room is familiar turf. As a stu­dent, Belcher helped the asso­ciate pro­fessor of inter­na­tional busi­ness and strategy develop a course called “Sus­taining Busi­ness in the New Economy,” a pop­ular offering among stu­dents in the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness.

Ear­lier this semester, Belcher, BA’03, returned to inspire and edu­cate cur­rent busi­ness stu­dents by chan­neling his expe­ri­ence as an entre­pre­neur. This year, he and busi­ness partner Izzy Azeri founded the cloud-​​computing com­pany Stack­driver, which is based in down­town Boston and employs a growing team.

They looked at the oppor­tu­nity and the com­pe­ti­tion and thought very hard about building a strong team — the same things I teach my stu­dents,” said Kin­nunen, who plans to use Stack­driver as a test case in his course next semester. “Belcher is prac­ticing every­thing he learned at North­eastern, and then some.”

Stack­driver — which recently received a $5 mil­lion invest­ment from Bain Cap­ital Ven­tures — will be used by busi­nesses inter­ested in building their appli­ca­tions on the cloud, which means they rely on third-​​party servers rather than their own, like Insta­gram, Pin­terest and Heroku. The company’s main product will use cutting-​​edge data ana­lytics to help com­pa­nies improve the per­for­mance, avail­ability, secu­rity and effi­ciency of their appli­ca­tions in the cloud.

Our core value is to help com­pa­nies that build cloud-​​powered soft­ware focus on inno­vating rather than deal with the day-​​to-​​day has­sles of man­aging their infra­struc­ture,” said Belcher, who described his company’s soon-​​to-​​be-​​released soft­ware plat­form as “a brain for the cloud.”

Belcher said that he relies on what he learned at  North­eastern to propel his ven­ture for­ward. He praised his expe­ri­ence in Hunt­ington Man­age­ment Con­sulting, an under­grad­uate club advised by Kin­nunen and focused on man­age­ment con­sulting and strategy.

That group taught me to really think hard about what makes a busi­ness suc­cessful,” Belcher said. “And I’ve stayed in touch with pro­fessor Kin­nunen over the years, who’s long been a person I’ve bounced ideas off of and has helped us meet poten­tial hires and co-​​ops.”

Cloud com­puting enables busi­nesses to reduce their start-​​up costs by elim­i­nating the need for costly and com­pli­cated com­puter servers; true to its mis­sion, Stackdriver’s “server closet” con­tains only a modem and wire­less router.

Cloud-​​based ven­tures can scale up by simply buying more space; Stack­driver, Belcher said, makes it easier for a com­pany to manage its tran­si­tion from a small ven­ture with fairly straight­for­ward infra­struc­ture require­ments to a major online busi­ness with sophis­ti­cated oper­a­tions and global infrastructure.

People start off in the cloud typ­i­cally because it’s easy to start small and have your envi­ron­ment grow with you,” Belcher said. “And over time, once you grow larger, the eco­nomic fac­tors aren’t as impor­tant. A com­pany like Net­flix could pretty effi­ciently run its own data cen­ters, but it choose to run in the cloud because it don’t want the dis­trac­tion of having to manage phys­ical infra­struc­ture. It wants to remain nimble and focused on innovation.”

The com­pany cur­rently employs a staff of nine, with plans to hire two or three new employees a month for the fore­see­able future. One of its first hires was Mike Bar­tucca, who grad­u­ated from North­eastern in the spring with a degree in elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering.

This is a place that’s really breaking new ground, so it’s an exciting place to be,” Bar­tucca said. “At this point so early in my career, I feel so for­tu­nate to be part of building some­thing from the start.”