Back in July, TechCrunch Disrupt winner, Soluto, raised $10.2 million in a series B financing led by Index Ventures. The new round of investment brought the Israeli startup’s total funding to $18 million, which it’s raised over the last two years from a list of investors that include Bessemer Venture Partners, Giza Venture Capital, and Proxima Ventures, as well as angels like Chris Dixon, Yuval Neeman, Saar Gillai and Nadav Zohar. Why all this financial excitement over the young startup?
Put simply, the Soluto’s value proposition has been its simple application that, once downloaded, allows the millions of PC users across the globe to quickly run diagnostics on their hard drives to locate all things wonky. Soluto’s software helps PC users find and identify printing problems, buggy add-ons, resource hogs, and so on, suggesting fixes for all those things that affect a computer’s speed and performance over the course of time.
Since debuting at Disrupt, Soluto has racked up about 3 million downloads, all without any significant marketing or advertising efforts — most of those users have been acquired by word of mouth. And though Soluto would probably continue to thrive based on its venture backing and the value proposition of an app for PCs that dives into the Windows core and leverages collective wisdom to help mitigate PC frustrations, Soluto has decided to change directions.
Starting today, Soluto is embarking on a new phase, and over the next year, will begin to look quite a bit different than it did when it launched last year. So why has the startup decided to — dare I say — pivot?
Well, for starters, the Soluto download will continue to be available for a few months, so users don’t need to lose their lunch quite yet; but, over time, the startup will be transitioning users over to its new browser-based look. The reason for this, according to CPO Roee Adler is that, based on user feedback and behavior, it’s become clear to the team that Soluto-ers are using the app mainly to support other people — whether at work or at home — (young) people have become what he calls “family CTOs”, helping parents, neighbors, and the less-technically-inclined with their computer frustrations.
The real issue for Soluto, Adler says, is how to more effectively help these “Mac Geniuses” of the world manage and fix the performance and speed issues of their luddite loved ones. And the Apple comparison is an apt one considering the startup’s future plans: While Soluto has been an exclusively PC product, the company plans to launch a Mac (and mobile) client in the near future.
In other words, Soluto’s new look builds on technology it already has in place, including its “low-level” agent and backend PC Genome servers — except that now these technologies will be wrapped in a webby user experience.
Still confused? Simply put, the new Soluto is built to assist the more tech savvy in helping the not-so-savvy optimize and fix their PCs. In the same way the startup has enabled users to identify problems and deal with frustrations inherent to the PC experience, the new build essentially allows people to remotely access their friends’ computers to quickly weed out slow, memory-eating applications, update their antivirus software and mobile apps, and so on.
In Soluto’s user dashboard, family CTOs will be able to view a full suite of easy-to-navigate information about PC frustrations, like non-responsive apps, and will be able to (with a few clicks) install a new browser or change the user’s default one, remove toolbars, eliminate app update reminders by pushing silent upgrades, track fan speed, temperature, and battery wear — or even easily install desktop apps like Skype, Dropbox, etc. — essentially all the things that your mom asks you to do over the phone or during your trip home for the holidays.
Again, all of these improvements to the user experience can be accomplished remotely thanks to Soluto’s existing agent (which means that you can make tweaks whether the user’s computer is on or off), and, of course, access has to be approved by the person who owns the computer you’ll be accessing. Your loved ones can give you permission by email, for example. Another bonus: It’s all free.
Which brings us to how Soluto plans to make money under its new model. Although this is just phase one of the process, in the future IT professionals, or those who use Soluto at work (or at an enterprise level) will have to pay to use it. For average, every day consumers, who are just using Soluto to help a small number of “favorite people”, it will remain free.
The new version of Soluto today launches in closed beta and will be evolving over the next few months based on feedback from the startup’s power users, specifically in relation to problems and scenarios they encounter most frequently when helping others.
For readers interested in testing out the beta product, Soluto is offering 50 free invites. All you have to do is head over to the landing page here and enter the code “techcrunchsentme”.
Right now, it’s just a web-based agent for PC users, but Mac and mobile agents are on the way.
Check it out, and let us know what you think.