Turning to some good news in the world of venture capital, I’d like to point out Walt Mossberg’s review in the Wall Street Journal today of ZumoDrive, an online storage service that you can access from any device, including your iPhone — it’s a good place to store big files like your iTunes library and your videos and just about any other piece of data you want.
ZumoDrive is named to evoke the idea of large capacity — like what a Sumo wrestler has — and its creators are three young men who left safe, secure jobs at Amazon and Microsoft because they yearned to start their own company. They were backed first by Y Combinator and now by Tandem Entrepreneurs.
I met them by accident and wrote about them over a year ago for the San Francisco Chronicle. With help from the folks at Tandem, they were working day and night to perfect ZumoDrive, which had a different name then and was aimed at businesses. They started marketing to consumers after one early user said he’d “like to move his whole life” onto ZumoDrive, CEO David Zhao told me.
Gradually, ZumoDrive won acceptance — Zhao presented it to judges at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference last year in San Francisco, and it was accepted into Apple’s App Store.
To Tandem, which funds very early stage startups — sometimes just teams of engineers — and then helps them with whatever’s missing, like marketing, ZumoDrive is proof that very small companies can succeed on under $1 million if they can get a product in front of customers as fast as possible and are able to change direction if their first few tries don’t work out.
Tandem’s co-founders are all veterans of startups that didn’t make it despite being backed by enormous amounts of venture capital — Webvan is one — and they believe the “go big or go home” way of practicing venture funding is both ineffective and badly out of date.
Here’s the story I wrote for the Chronicle last year. It’s nice to see guts and hard work pay off.