A Q&A with Space Monkey co-founder and product guy Clint Gordon-Carroll. The Midvale, Utah–based company was founded in the Summer of 2011 and raised a $2.25 million Seed funding round in mid-July this year. The company’s long list of investors includes Google Ventures, Venture51, Polaris Venture Partners; and entrepreneurs like Jason Calacanis and EarthLink and Boingo Wireless founder Sky Dayton. Space Monkey is planning its beta launch later this year.
SUB: Please describe Space Monkey, and the value proposition you offer to consumers.
Gordon-Carroll: Our goal at Space Monkey is to give consumers as much online storage as possible at an affordable price. Of course online storage means you have the peace of mind your data is securely stored offsite, is accessible from any device including web browser, smartphone etc. It also means it’s easily shareable.
Today most people store only some of their data in the cloud, but most of their digital collection is offline on local devices or USB storage. The stuff they do have online is fragmented over multiple services like Dropbox, Carbonite, Flickr or something else. The price of the cloud is not dropping fast enough to keep up with the data we’re creating and collecting. We believe Space Monkey changes that.
By plugging a Space Monkey device into your home router you get a very affordable, $10 a month, cloud solution. Once you store a photo or video into your Space Monkey folder that file is pushed to your device where you will always have a local copy of your data. In the background the Space Monkey device encrypts and breaks your file into tiny little pieces and then sprays those tiny pieces into our storage network to ensure you have a protected second copy of your data. You can access your data from any device, any time.
SUB: Who are your target users?
Gordon-Carroll: We believe consumers are feeling the greatest data pain in the market. With the advent of the smartphone we are creating more photos and videos than ever before; the quality of the media is getting better and better all the time. So, if you have more than 100 GB of home photos that can’t be replaced, you are probably looking for a simple solution that includes backup, sharing and online access. Space Monkey can make your life a lot easier.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Gordon-Carroll: What we are doing at Space Monkey isn’t very unique, but how we’re doing is extremely disruptive. We’re taking the cloud out of the data center and putting it in a tiny little network attached storage device. This means we are taking on two industries: cloud providers and network hardware companies. Cloud providers include: Dropbox, Mozy, Carbonite and others. Hardware companies include: Seagate, WesternDigital, Synology, Buffalo, Iomega and others.
SUB: What differentiates Space Monkey from the competition?
Gordon-Carroll: Some of our advantages include speed, local cache of your data and the amount of storage you get. But at the end of the day it comes down to price. We can store your data online at a lower cost because we don’t have the data center costs like bandwidth, power, expensive equipment and leasing expensive buildings.
A big advantage over the other hardware guys is the peace of mind. If you have all your home photos on a Seagate drive sitting in your home and the drive fails or your house burns down then you’re totally screwed. Space Monkey ensures your data is always safe in a storage network, so you don’t have to worry about your wife killing you for losing all your family photos.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Gordon-Carroll: Company was founded in July of 2011. The biggest thing we had to do was see if our software could run on these small consumer network attached devices. If there isn’t enough CPU to run our encryption algorithms than the idea would likely be dead-in-the-water. After that we had to build a business model and see if the assumptions we had in the model could be proven.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Space Monkey? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Gordon-Carroll: We’ve had a lot of aha moments. We are doing some really challenging technical problems and I think we have aha moments nearly every week.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Gordon-Carroll: We thought in the early days the biggest obstacle would be convincing investors that the data center approach to the cloud was the wrong strategy. How could Google, Mozy, Dropbox, Apple and others be wrong? Turns out our story is pretty compelling. The real obstacle is building highly reliable distributed systems, but good thing we’ve had some practice in our past lives.
SUB: You just raised a $2.25 million Seed round. Why was this a good time to raise this round, and how do you plan to use the new funds?
Gordon-Carroll: It’s always a good time to raise. Our plan is to build-out our small team of engineers and get the product to our initial beta launch.
SUB: Do you plan to raise additional funds in the near future?
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Gordon-Carroll: Space Monkey is a subscription-based business. The device comes with your subscription at $10 a month. We’ll manage it and replace it if something goes wrong. Much like Comcast or DirecTV.
SUB: What are your goals for Space Monkey over the next year or so?
Gordon-Carroll: We measure everything in scale. We’re always looking to scale the service up. That’s our primary goal for the next 12 months. Of course other goals like iOS and Android apps are on the radar.
Space Monkey – www.spacemonkey.com