Friday, August 13, 2004
Interview: Steve Iverson, Streamload
Steve Iverson is President and CEO of San Diego-based Streamload, which recently received a round of funding for its online services. I caught up with Steve to get a better idea of what Streamload is doing, and the value of its services.
BK: What's Streamload, and how are your users using your services?
SI: Streamload is an online service that makes it easy for people to send, receive, and access files of any size; including entire music and video collections. We offer free unlimited storage and only charge people when their files are downloaded. File downloads include when a user downloads his or her own files, when those files are accessed by other people, or when they are hosted on the Internet. Subscription plans start at just $4.95 a month. However, our most popular subscription is $10/mo. It includes unlimited storage and up to 10 GB of downloads per month.
Many of our customers store their entire MP3 collection with us and can then access it from home or work by streaming it directly to their home or office PC. Some more technically savvy users offload their DVR and DVD collections to Streamload, so they can access them from anywhere and move them to any viewing device they choose.
BK: How did you get the idea for Streamload?
SI: I was having a lot of the same problems our customers are looking to solve. I have a bazillion MP3s, a huge digital video collection, a DVR that's always full, and each photo from my new digital camera is now just over 1 MB. I needed a new set of tools to be able to listen to my music, access and store video, and a method for sending and moving these large files.BK: What is the history of Streamload -- I see you had a seed round in 2001?
SI: I founded Streamload in 1998 while I was still a senior at Pomona College in California. The company was initially financed by a small friends and family round and my two good friends, Visa and MasterCard.
We received our first significant angel financing in February 2000 from Charlie Jackson, who founded Silicon Beach Software in the 80s and several others since. We reached profitability about a year later and grew on our own profits. We had a number of additional small angel investments during that time as well, and we just closed our first significant institutional investment from Windward Ventures to improve our available marketing budget and grow the company faster.
I strongly believe the timing is right for our services to appeal to more mainstream customers, and not just early technology adopters.
BK: How did you hook up with Windward Ventures and how did you find San Diego's Emtek program?
SI: Our first office space was at the San Diego Technology Incubator located on San Diego City College's campus. They introduced us to the City's Emtek Fund which later awarded us $250k in debt financing. I guess it's a small world in San Diego, because that's then how I initially met the folks at Windward. David Titus, a managing partner at Windward, is on Emtek's board and had followed our company pretty closely for several years. He is now is also on Streamload's Board of Directors along with myself, John Belden, and Charlie Jackson.
BK: Why the big gap between your seed round and first venture funding?
SI: We didn't need to raise the money. We've been profitable and cash flow positive for over three years. I felt the time was right to secure additional equity financing so we could have a larger marketing budget to operate with.
BK: What are you planning on doing with the funds?
SI: This financing has significantly improved our marketing budget to help us get the word out about Streamload. Plus, the money is going to allow us to accelerate development on some exciting new functionality that I can't immediately elaborate on, but stay tuned.
BK: Finally, what has been the toughest part of starting up your company?
SI: Nothing's really been that tough. ;)
Each year there seems to be a significant new challenge for our company. At one point just raising money and having sufficient capital to work with was the challenge, 2-3 years ago I think we realized that we may be just a little too early into this market. Now we're focused on making our service easy to use for the larger number of not super-technically savvy people that are starting to find Streamload.
I think it's pretty easy to make the hardcore technical people happy if you provide a great solution in average form, but average isn't good enough for the majority of people who don't have the patience to figure things out that aren't immediately obvious. But, we're making good progress on this current challenge too - 78% of Streamload's customers now rate ease-of-use as a "10". We've only got 22% to go.
Contact Information For Streamload: More information »