Tech start-up of the Week: CloudDock

24 Nov 20134 Shares

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Pictured: CloudDock developer Padraig Harley, CEO Cian Brassil and chief marketing officer Scott Kennedy

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CloudDock, a start-up based at Dublin’s NDRC and founded by a group of NUIG graduates, has come up with an ingenious way of making it easier for users of services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive to manage all their cloud services in one place.

CloudDock is the brainchild of CEO Cian Brassil, CMO Scott Kennedy and lead developer Padraic Harley.

CloudDock is a file syncronisation platform that makes cloud storage compatible between any provider. 

“Our application sits on top of your cloud storage service so you can receive files from any source and have them synced directly to your cloud storage,” Brassil explained.

“Our application is vendor agnostic, which means you can work with anyone, no matter what platform they’re using. Whatever service you choose – Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Box to name a few – you can collaborate with anyone, on any other service.

“We are targeting people who are using multiple cloud storage accounts for collaboration. Cloud storage services now have over 625 million users with that set to double to 1.3 billion users by 2017. Through our research we found that 75pc of people have accounts on multiple cloud storage services, with 68pc of those using multiple services for collaboration. At CloudDock we are primarily targeting cloud storage users in businesses that are external facing, working with clients on different cloud storage services.

“We have signups from various sectors, such as IT Consultancy, Marketing, and Creative Services. “It’s been fantastic to see the broad range of business that experience the problem of cloud storage interoperability, and to have such positive feedback from industry leading cloud storage services.”

The founders

Brassil has a mix of business and technical experience under his belt. “I have a degree in IT and Computer Science from NUI Galway. I also have previous startup experience, having founded my own web based business during college which I acquired funding for and ran for two years.”

Co-founder Scott Kennedy has a strong business background, having completed a degree in Commerce, and a Masters in Corporate Strategy. Prior to CloudDock, Scott managed a top franchise retail store in Galway, and a windsurfing centre before that.

The opportunity

“Currently, users link their email account and their preferred cloud storage account,” Brassil explains. “From then, CloudDock automatically detects when a file has been shared with you and syncs that file to your cloud storage service.

“The files can be sent as links from cloud storage services, or as email attachments, and CloudDock will retrieve those files and sort them into folders on your cloud storage. This means Google Drive users, for example, can receive shared files or folders from someone on Dropbox and they’ll be automatically synced to their Drive account.

“Even these days, email is still by far the most popular way to share content, so we integrate with your email account to detect those shares. We integrate heavily with cloud storage services, to get shared files, sort them into folders, and update shared files and folders across the different platforms.

“Because we are a neutral third-party in the cloud storage area (we’re not competing with Dropbox, Drive or any of the other file services), we integrate with all of these to be the universal plug to provide compatibility between them.”

One cloud to rule them all

Brassil said that CloudDock’s mission is to provide compatibility between cloud storage systems, and the current version of the app is phase one of this.

“We’re working towards providing deeper integration with cloud storage applications, to enable true cross service compatibility. 

“People are regularly using multiple cloud storage services, and this causes a whole range of problems. We feel people should be able to pick one cloud storage service, and just use that. They shouldn’t need to be concerned with what someone else is using. With CloudDock we’re making this possible.

“As more and more cloud storage providers come on the market to serve the ever growing demand for cloud storage systems, CloudDock aims to be the company to provides compatibility between all these systems, enabling them to work smoothly together. Our focus is on building a great product to help people get more from their file services now and into the future.”

At the moment CloudDock is at private beta stage and will be gradually releasing to the backlog of beta users currently signed up.

“The deployment was a bit of a roller-coaster, but we got there in the end. There was a few late nights put in by our software engineer Padraic to get it ready for the deadline, so hopefully there won’t be too many bugs to fix over the next few weeks – he can finally get a good night’s sleep in! We’re currently taking signups at clouddock.co.

“We’ve just launched, and although there are some bits and pieces that need ironing out over the next week or so, we have a few really cool additions coming that we’re really excited to release soon, so keep an eye on our blog for updates on that!”

Investment

He said the company is currently seeking seed investment following on from the completion of LaunchPad on 12 December.

LaunchPad ends with LiftOff investor day where the start-ups will get a chance to pitch to a room full of investors.

“So that will be a chance for them to get a good look at our business, and we’ll hopefully get more conversations going from there,” Brassil said.

Brassil, Kennedy and Harley are under no illusions about the fact that the problem they are targeting is large and as such deciding where to focus efforts and resources was a challenge.

“Since starting on LaunchPad we have focused the product a lot, to really hone-in on file sharing and storage, and the problems that surround that.

“Identifying our ideal customers and building that customer profile was a challenge. This is something we are continuously working on, and we’re constantly running surveys and experiments to help us better understand the market. Cloud storage and file sharing is a massive area, so identifying the ideal segment within that has been a real focus throughout LaunchPad.

“On the technical front, integrating with the various services in the way we do brings plenty of challenges. We have worked hard to build a system that will scale well to cater for the constantly growing number of services on offer. On the one hand we’re integrating with a users email, a service which has been around for decades. On the other we’re integrating with some of the best new platforms like Dropbox and SkyDrive. So ensuring all these systems are integrated efficiently and securely is a challenge – but one that we’re enjoying!

“Our private beta, which just launched, will be key to helping us further develop the product. User feedback is always the best way to improve a product, so we’re really excited to be getting people on board to hear what they have to say and learn how they use CloudDock,” Brassil said.

Start-up ecosystem

Brassil says the startup ecosystem in Ireland is booming at the moment, which is evidenced from the amount of accelerators, incubators and other supports that are available to early stage startups. “There are loads of meet ups and events on every week where you can get so much advice, for free, from people who went through the process a few years ago.

“The startup community is incredibly supportive. I’d advise any tech self-starters out there and get involved in any events around. In June we went to Launch48, and it was a massive boost to us. We received fantastic advice over the three days, and met a whole range of people that are an invaluable help to us now – in particular, meeting one of our advisors, Gene Murphy, was a pivotal time for CloudDock.

“The range of events taking place regularly for tech startups is really impressive, and the potential opportunities that can arise from them makes it a no-brainer,” Brassil concluded.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com