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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Box.net -- An Entrepreneur's Tale
Perhaps you've noticed the orange ad for Box.net, our newest advertiser, at the top of the site.

Box.net provides online file storage. A couple of weeks ago, before going out of town on a trip I loaded a number of files on to Box.net. Then, on the road, I simply logged on to Box.net when I needed the files. The process was much easier and faster than trying to transfer files by CD from my desktop computer to the laptop that I use when travelling. (Gear Live has a review of Box.net and gives it the thumbs up, too.)

I was curious about Box.net, and I ended up doing an interview of Aaron Levie, the President of Box.net.

It turns out the company is run by two entrepreneurs who have bootstrapped their business -- and faced the same kind of challenges as countless other entrepreneurs, including almost running out of cash. And like many startups today they exemplify the "virtual business" structure where people work in more than one location.

Here is that interview:

SBTrends: Aaron, where are you located?

Levie: Seattle, and we also have a few people working for us in Los Angeles.

SBTrends: Who are the principals of the company?

Levie: I am the CEO. My partner, Dylan Smith, is the CFO, and we work with various developers, server administrators, technicians, etc....

SBTrends: How are you financing your business?

Levie: So far we have been self-financed, but we are gradually looking around for funding -- though there hasn't been a real need except for expanded marketing.

SBTrends: How did you come up with the idea for the company and get started, Aaron?

Levie: We wanted to make online storage and file sharing much easier than it appeared to be on the Internet. There are other companies that are providing similar services as Box.net, but we set out to make this business simpler and friendlier than the rest.

SBTrends: What's unique about your service?

Levie: Besides (hopefully) being easier to use and more straight-forward than the competition, we have made extensive improvements on typical online file-sharing. Since a large market for us is small businesses and professionals, sharing files with multiple parties, or sharing multiple files that are large becomes burdensome with other services as well as email, etc...

Our format gets any number of files shared instantly, without the hassle of advertisements on the shared page, or other things which may bother the receiving end.

SBTrends: What else can you share about your company or your business?

Levie: We ran out of money after we initially had the system fully developed. That left us with a great website but no way to market it (literally). We were stuck for a while, but came up with a few strategic promotions and soon the user base grew and provided us with revenue to work off of.

SBTrends: Who is the typical customer for your service?

Levie: The typical customer is an individual who would like to backup a large number of documents or photos... which are then shared safely across the Internet with family members or friends -- as well as accessed from the user's home computer/work computer. A secondary use, and one which we are trying to make more prominent, is our work group collaboration feature which allows multiple users to log in to one account with various restriction settings -- as in some users can upload, some cannot, etc...

SBTrends: What do you think people need to know about your company's service?

Levie: I think that your readers, especially, need to know that online storage (whether or not it's Box.net) can be very useful to daily operations and organization of a small business. The benefits are endless, and just as a way to give multiple computers access to the same set of files is a great tool.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about Box.net, and good luck to everyone on their business endeavors.
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