New York City-based file-sharing startup, Minus, announced today that it has raised $1 million in seed funding from IDG Capital Partners, which the startup plans to use to expand its team and to invest in technology and infrastructure with the goal of creating a simple and universal sharing experience for its users.
There are a plethora of tools out there one can use to share files, from Skype to email, Dropbox, Box.net, and Ge.tt to WeTransfer. The list is long. We covered Sendoid a few months back, a Y Combinator grad offering a cool peer-to-peer, browser-based solution. In light of a crowded space, Minus’ value proposition is that it works on virtually any web-connected device and supports nearly every type of file you can think of.
With Minus, users can easily and quickly share photos, documents, music, videos, etc., simply by visiting Minus.com and dragging the file they want to transfer onto homepage. Once the file uploads, the user receives a shortlink, which they can then share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, in an email, IM conversations, and more. Minus is also free to use and doesn’t require users to register in order to upload and share files.
That being said, while users can take advantage of unlimited uploads and downloads without registration, there is a 25MB per file limit. If one registers and signs in, which is free, the limit lifts to 100MB per file. Minus Co-founder and COO John Xie tells me that, as the startup scales and gains its legs on the backend, he and co-founder and CEO Carl Hu plans to increase that limit even more. (The site launched in private beta back in October.)
But what’s nifty about Minus is, beyond the easy shortlink sharing (min.uses), that you can drag 100 files at once into the web interface and let them simultaneously upload. While you can’t send gigantic files, and with the 100MB limit you probably won’t be uploading any lengthy videos, a user could presumably upload and share hundreds of images, and then give those links to a few hundred people to browse and download. (Minus also has a “Download as zip” function, which zips your links for you on the fly. Example here.)
Xie told me that, beyond prioritizing scaling, the team wants to keep Minus simple, both in UX and UI, and continue to focus on the sharing aspect of the platform. Since Minus is cloud-based, registered users can create a profile so that once they upload their images, documents, etc., they’re hosted on Minus in the same way Flickr, Dropbox, Scribd and so many others do it. You can check out an example of Xie’s hosted files page here.
And, since launch, Minus has seen some good traction. The platform is currently serving 50 million downloads each month, according to Xie, and has just north of 500,000 monthly active users. What’s more, while Minus may be entering a crowded space with plenty of competition ahead, clearly the team’s resolve is there: Originally hosted on the Min.us domain, the team recently purchased the Minus.com domain for about $115,000. So, for those hoping for a Google-, you’ll have to look elsewhere, Minus isn’t budging.
And for those curious as to what’s powering the startup’s cloudy backend: The platform is built on HTML5 and fully deployed on Django stack on Amazon’s EC2/S3, and the team is currently building their own custom CDN solution for serving the needed bandwidth. Developers are welcome.
Minus is currently available for Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu in desktop app form, has both Chrome and Firefox extensions, as well as a Chrome app, and is available on mobile for Android. Mobile iOS and Windows apps are currently in beta, with updates coming soon. More on apps here.