If you are wondering what is happening to enterprise collaboration as cloud, mobile, and social trends converge, this interview is an in-depth study of one of the most exciting startups in the field.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to Huddle. Tell us about you guys. Where do you come from? How did you come together? How did Huddle come about?
Alastair Mitchell: So this is Alastair Mithcell and Andy McLoughlin. We’re the two co-founders of Huddle. I’m the CEO.
Andy McLoughlin: Hi there. I’m the other co-founder and the EVP of Strategy for Huddle.
Alastair Mitchell: Huddle is about seven years old. We provide services in enterprise collaboration in the cloud. What does that mean? We basically help people to share and work on content using Huddle in the cloud. We work with large enterprise and government customers across the world to do that. We’re all part of this mega trend of people wanting to share and work on information on any device, at any place, and at any time.
Sramana Mitra: Where are you located?
Alastair Mitchell: We’ve got offices in London where we started and do a lot of our developments.
Andy McLoughlin: Which explains the funny accents.
Alastair Mitchell: But we’re speaking to you from San Francisco. We also have offices in New York and Washington D.C.
Sramana Mitra: Give me a little bit of context about the founding of this company. You founded the company in London. What was the genesis? How did you guys come together? Was it a bootstrapped company or a financed company?
Andy McLoughlin: Alastair and I have known each other for quite a long time. We were working on opposite sides of the fence. I was working inside a technology company where we were building document management systems – putting them into banks and insurance companies. Every company we spoke to have the same requirements. As well as the archival and compliance piece, they also wanted a system for collaboration where they could work with people outside of their company. Alastair was on the other side. He was inside of a business that has been trying to implement SharePoint and it has just been a massive failure.
Alastair Mitchell: I was working in a large marketing and business intelligence consultancy. I’ve got 300 people working for me. We were working in about 5 different offices globally. We tried everything to work together. We spent $2 million-$3 million on this big SharePoint system. We were using WebEx and other social tools. About that time, Twitter was just becoming relevant in our personal lives but nothing in our work lives worked for us. There was not a tool that enabled us to share and work together as easily as we could in our personal lives. That was the genesis of Huddle.
Sramana Mitra: Did you self-fund the company or were there investors involved in the beginning?
Alastair Mitchell: We got the business off the ground ourselves. We put all of the money that we had to get it started.
Andy McLoughlin: Plus a bit more.
Alastair Mitchell: Plus a bit more from friends and family. Now, we have gone through several funding rounds. We have raised about $40 million in total and are growing very fast.
Sramana Mitra: How far did you take the company before the first round of external financing came in?
Alastair Mitchell: When we had the product and our first customers. We got the financing at the stage where we proved that there was a market and that people wanted to buy it. We wanted to sketch up the scale of the business.