Datownia: Will Lovegrove
Builds data APIs from spreadsheets in Dropbox
Tell us what your business does:
Datownia makes data APIs from spreadsheets in Dropbox. It turns the spreadsheet data into a cloud-hosted database, wraps it in a webservice API, and makes the API available via a custom developer portal (also created by us as part of the service). The practical upshot of this is that we’ve turned Dropbox into a content management system for mobile apps, web apps or in fact any app.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
We have another company called Release Mobile which builds mobile apps. We needed a way of helping our clients update content in their mobile apps quickly, cheaply and easily.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We went to our clients, described the datownia solution, and asked them if they would use it. They all said “yes”.
What were you doing before starting up?
We were running Release Mobile, our mobile app development company.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes. Pretty much ever since I started working.
How did you raise the money?
The money came partly from our own company funds (e.g. directors funds) and partly from a Technology Strategy Board SMART grant.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Our main challenges were never technical execution but always in the field of evaluating the customer value proposition, prioritising the features needed to support that proposition, and then evaluating our hypothesis with actual customer feedback.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Datownia offers its customers a free trial for three months. Thereafter customers choose from: Plan A, designed for the individual, £16 / month, 10MB of data storage and 10GB of data transfer Plan B, designed for the small/medium Business, £75 / month, 50MB of data storage and 100GB of data transfer Plan C, designed to support heavy API use, £120 / month, 250MB of data storage and 500GB of data transfer.
What was your first big breakthrough?
I don’t think we’ve had a big breakthrough yet. It’s early days and we’re only just starting.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Have a clear vision of your product. Get a clear vision of the problem it solves. Get your visions validated by potential customers long before you even think about making the product.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Running a multi-million pound company whose revenues are generated by products which we have created and have been sold to hundreds if not thousands of global customers.