Startup Spotlight – Backup Box – July 2012

With several cloud storage services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive competing to gain more market share, it is not uncommon for users to switch or maintain accounts on different services. However, moving data between the services is usually manual, slow, and can sometimes be a frustrating experience.

Backup Box makes it incredibly easy to move files between online services that normally don’t work well together, saving users time, money, and the headache of having to navigate these systems. An example would be your web server and Dropbox, or if you wanted to switch from Google Drive to SkyDrive.

Since its launch a few months ago, Backup Box has already moved over 12 million files and is moving a million files every three days, all without any marketing effort!

We recently talked to the founders, Eric Warnke and Mark Fossen to learn more about their company.

How did you come up with the idea for your startup?

I had a real need for the product for my freelance clients. My web host didn’t offer any backup tools, so Mark and I decided to build some. We were obviously not alone in this need.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Scaling. We don’t have enough hours in the day to improve the service to where we want it to be. We want everything done yesterday.

Are there any key individuals outside of your organization that have been of great help?

There are a few key friends who provided some sage advice; a few of them came from our time at Start-Up Chile, where we spent the last 6 months. We’ve been looking hard for the right advisors who have the knowledge of this space to help guide us.

Personally, do you think it is more difficult to raise capital or find the right talent?

Oh geez, that’s a big question. I think that we can’t address the talent issue until we can afford them. We haven’t actively been presenting to investors yet, but it’s something I can see ourselves doing.

What has contributed to your success to this point?

1. Don’t lift a finger until someone has said they’ll pay you. We gathered feedback and interest from over 700 people before we even created our prototype.

2. Solve a pain, not an itch.

3. Ship constantly. Don’t worry about most of the bugs, just get something out the door. It is so important to get your stuff in front of your customers.

4. Almost anything you show a customer will blow them away. As tech entrepreneurs we’re perfectionists and we aren’t easily impressed. Your customers will probably be amazed that you’ve even managed to start your own business.

What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship?

We both look at everyday objects and think “this could be better.” I think that’s true for most entrepreneurs.

I worked for a startup named Nexopia and learned a lot about the drive and culture it takes to run your own business. That job introduced me to the tech scene and I haven’t looked back.

Mark started working for himself because he believed the only path to true success is by starting your own company. The growth stage of a business and how they can utilize technology is what piques Mark’s interest. He looks at larger companies as slow moving and often not very innovative. Of course there are exceptions.

What are your thoughts on Calgary’s startup community?

I think that Calgary, and largely Alberta in general has an amazing startup ecosystem that is really coming out of its shell. Unfortunately, however, we are still stuck in a rut when it comes to supporting tech startups. If you’re an agriculture, clean tech, oilfield, or biotech company then you have no problems raising money. For software though, we’re still very wary of crazy ideas that don’t have proven sales or a patent.

The strengths of the community are in bringing people together and showing that this interest exists. Demo Camps and Bar Camps are perfect examples. On the flip side, in my experience, many of the people who come out to these events are simply doing it out of interest, not because they are running their own company.

There’s a real fear of failure in this province, something that other places like Silicon Valley don’t mind so much. I want to see more local youngsters decide that their degree doesn’t define their career. There’s no shame risking everything you have to make a go at it. The knowledge you’ll gain far outweighs any financial risks.

What do you and your startup need?

We’re teetering on the point of raising money or running on our own steam. A few weeks will tell. If someone walked through the door and said they wanted to help we would obviously be open to their ideas.

 

If you are working on something that could potentially change the world, we’d like to hear about it. Send us a tweet at @startupcalgary or email us at info@startupcalgary.ca.

Startup Spotlight is covered by Boast Capital, a Calgary-based Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) consulting firm that helps companies secure and maximize government funding to advance innovation. For more information visit BoastCapital.com or @BoastCapital.

 

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