Sramana Mitra: What kind of customer validation did you do at that point?
Steven Boye: I would say we didn’t really do any customer validation that early on. But we had a lot of background in office applications and helping people with Word and Excel. It was basically office automation or mobile enablement of people with their regular office documents. We were pushing the boundaries for what was possible with the technology back then.
Sramana Mitra: I see. Essentially, the funding that you were able to raise was based on your domain knowledge in office applications. It was not based on any customer validation.
Steven Boye: It was not based on customer validation. It was basically based on the prototype and the ideas we had. We had a product that we could show where you could install an application on your home computer. You can use your browser in your Nokia phone. You can have an account in our cloud service. Nobody was thinking anything like that back in 2005. That was what we were working on back in 2005 and 2006.
Sramana Mitra: What form did the product take in that experimentation? What was the process of arriving at something that actually made sense?
Steven Boye: We had basically brainstorming meetings on a daily basis. We were discussing what was possible with the technology. It was more like we saw a big need for mobile workers to be able to use their devices to do more things than they could. At that time, what you could do with your mobile device was take a picture, take a phone call, and send an SMS. You had a browser but there wasn’t a website that will work with your browser. That’s the hole we tried to fill out back then.
We spent several years experimenting and trying to find a niche. We got a lot of press. It was basically just pure innovation. We didn’t make a dollar in any of those years at all.
Sramana Mitra: How did you sustain yourselves?
Steven Boye: We had investment.
Sramana Mitra: How much was the investment? Investors were letting you play around? That’s weird.
Steven Boye: Investors trusted our team that we knew what we were doing.
Sramana Mitra: Who were the investors?
Steven Boye: We got $1 million very early on, which sustained us for a year. We didn’t draw too much salary. A lot of people we had known who had started companies and were earning money were willing to give us $25,000 to $50,000. Altogether, that added up to $1 million. That’s what sustained us in the beginning.