From The Disrupt Battlefield To Cloud Storage Phenomenon With $7M+ In Funding, Bitcasa Tells All

If you don’t know about TechCrunch Disrupt finalist Bitcasa, you probably should. These are the same folks that blow Dropbox and SkyDrive out of the water, offering users not just a few gigabytes of cloud storage, but infinite storage for your PC or mobile device.

After launching on the Disrupt stage in San Francisco last year, the company has seen modest success, including a $7 million funding round led by Pellon Venture Partners. Bitcasa has also stored between five and six petabytes of data since June, when they opened up the public beta to their waiting list.

That said, we sat down with co-founder CEO Tony Gauda to find out how Disrupt, and their journey from then to now, has shaped the company:


TechCrunch: Take us through some of the highlights between Disrupt SF 2011 and now.

Tony Gauda: The most immediate thing we noticed was that, as soon as we stepped on stage, we got about 50,000 sign-ups. This is within the first 24 hours. And that grew to over a quarter million by the end of the first week.

Because of that, it was an amazing platform for us to get out and get the word out to consumers and let them understand that we’re here solving the storage problem, infinitely expanding the capacity of computers and mobile phones.

That was the first thing.

The second was that we were able to raise such great awareness of this new technology with this tremendous platform, that it gave us the ability to communicate our message about a very particular problem we were solving to people all over the world. Which, I think, allowed us to lead up into our Series A round.

We saw so much support from the Venture community, and ended up raising $7 million in a Series A. They reached out to us because they saw us on stage at Disrupt.

Since then, we went from having no active users in September to now storing around 5 or 6 petabytes over the past four or five months, when we opened up the public beta. Over a billion files saved, and 122 different counties accessing content from mobile phones.

And we’ve got some really interesting things coming at the end of the year.

TC: Launching a company on stage, rather than over the wires, can be an unusual experience. What was it like for you launching Bitcasa on the Disrupt stage?

TG:It was amazing to be given a platform and access like that to the tech industry and the VC community. The Disrupt audience is such a fast-follower community of people that really understand how to use the product. It’s a tremendous way for a tech product to gain instant traction.

The only thing is that it can be difficult — the format and the situation can be a lot more stressful. It is more of a show than it is a presentation.

It was interesting for us to launch in this way and I enjoyed every minute of it. The crowd was amazing.

TC: I’ve heard a lot of past Disrupt founders stress out over the Q&A portion of the presentation. How did you feel about it?

For us it wasn’t as difficult as I anticipated. We spend a lot of time thinking about our problems. Whenever you’re given an opportunity like this, you spend days and nights thinking about the product and the business and end up covering a lot of ground mentally. When they asked me questions, I had already had a lot of similar thoughts and it validated the amount of diligence we put into the product.

If you’re passionate about the product then you already know the questions. You’ve thought about them. So I just went into it thinking I would just answer like I was talking to a friend on the street.

TC: How do you think the Disrupt launch affected investor relations?

TG: It definitely added credibility to what investors thought of us.

There’s a long process of vetting when you go through Disrupt, and a lot of other successful companies came out of Disrupt. So just to be in the company of other companies that have raised millions and gone onto success gave us that extra bit of credibility talking to investors.

It doesn’t validate the idea by any means, but it’s an extra data point to investors that, most importantly, we can get our message out. That’s one of the biggest problems that startups have: even if you have a great idea, will anyone ever hear about you?

If you launch a product on stage with millions of people watching it’s a great way to get your message out and quickly. There really isn’t a better venue or go-to market strategy.

TC: Do you have any advice for the incoming companies that will launch at Disrupt SF 2012?

TG: Don’t treat it like a VC pitch. A pitch, in itself, is more informative than it is entertaining. When you’re at Disrupt, launching on stage, people are really interested in the product but they also want to be entertained.

Be excited and be interesting. Let your enthusiasm come through.

It’s a place where you can put your best foot forward and frame it however you want. Have plenty of energy and make sure your messaging is extremely clear — something they can hold onto and remember. Swing for the fences.

Disrupt NY pumped out crazy awesome products like the Gtar, UberConference and OpenGlass, among some other great happenstances. But when we bring it back to the bay, things are only bound to be better than ever. We’ve got an amazing list of speakers, and some of the coolest starups I’ve ever come across. If you’re interested in buying tickets to the show, or checking out the Hackathon, just visit our events page for more deets.