Five months ago things we very interesting. I was waist deep in the Start-Up Chile accelerator program, living in Viña del Mar, and working on our startup product, Surreal WiFi. I was also just finishing reading Lean Startup and one of my roommates at the time was an excellent sounding board for all my crazy ideas.
Now, for a long time I’d had a problem: I still use FTP. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what version control is, but I’m just too lazy to use it for small projects, which is what most of my web design clients end up being. I currently host around 80 odd domain names on a Media Temple shared hosting plan, all of which I access using FTP. None of this is backed up, ever. Big problem.
For whatever reason I decided that it was time to back things up. A bit of research determined that I either had to set up custom server-side scripts to automate an rsync job, or download some software that I run on my computer to backup my domains on a schedule. I tried the software, it was clunky and complex and I ditched it quickly.
I’m an avid user and fan of Dropbox. I knew there were lots of third-party apps out there and I was hoping there might be something to help me out. Searching through the forums I discovered that there was a lot of conversation happening around the whole FTP to Dropbox problem. Lots of conversation, yes. Solutions, no. Word on the street was that Dropbox would never support FTP connections and yet nobody was addressing the problem!
Needless to say, this was a lean startup dream! I had a problem, which many other people do too. My very first assumption was satisfied, that I’m not alone in needing this service. But I still needed more validation before I start coding.
So I threw up a landing page. I wrote a cute description of the problem, slapped down four payment options, and recorded what you clicked, and then asked for your email address to be notified when we launch.
I posted a few times in the Dropbox forums letting people know I was going to help solve their problems, and I weaseled an AdWords credit out of Google. Forums worked, AdWords were useless.
From October 16th to March 8th we had over 570 unique people sign up to use the site. I was ready to build it at 50 signups, but real-life and our other startup got in the way. Plus I was still in Chile and we were travelling around!
The very night that I returned to Canada I went to the second hackathon put on by Startup Edmonton. Mark, my partner, and I had decided that this hackathon would be a good place to start our Backup Box development. We built the prototype in roughly 15 hours. Over the next four weeks we revamped the prototype and prepared it for users and accounts and automation, etc. That’s what we launched with.
So here we are. We launched with a few posts in the Dropbox forums and emails to the early signups. Albeit we didn’t have our screencast up at the time, but it’s up now. We’re tracking conversions on almost everything our users click. Looking forward to what the future holds with Backup Box!