File sharing start up Minus has gotten a $1M seed round from IDG Capital Partners to make sharing files as easy as sharing a link.
File sharing is a crowded space. Minus is up against competitors like Dropbox, SugarSync, Box.net, and Zumodrive. In order to succeed Minus is focused on a slightly different angle: providing a link to content .
“[They] are not meant for my mom or dad to use on a daily basis because they’re packed with a lot of features,” John Xie, chief operating and marketing officer told VentureBeat, referring to his competitors. “We want to make [Minus] the simplest way for people to share and upload, but we want to make it powerful,”
Minus allows consumers to drag and drop files from their computer into the Minus webpage on their browser. But while other companies enable this type of upload, Minus provides a separate, dedicated webpage for those files. A link is then automatically generated for yo to share socially, via e-mail, text, Twitter and more.
The link is the unique feature here. Most cloud storage services require a sign-in or access via your desktop. It is difficult to share content that way. With a link, your options are much more flexible for not only who you want to share with, but also how.
“We’re definitely more about the consumer and allowing anyone who shares on the fly,” said Xie.
To promote sharing, the company is integrating social features directly onto its website. From here, clients can publicly share their content and follow other profiles within Minus.
“People can follow you, so you can have a fanpage,” said Xie. “We want to make it a cool place for people to share and hang out and explore a little. We care about people having fun on the site.”
This element is still early days, acknowledged Xie, as it is difficult to search and find people on the current Minus website.
Unlike competitors, however, the company does not consider itself a form of back-up for files and is completely consumer-facing. “We are definitely not backup focused,” said Xie. “One thing we do want to focus on is allowing people to share from any devices.”
Currently, people can access and upload content from Windows, Mac OS X, Linus, Android, iOS, Firefox 5 and Google Chrome. Xie admitted, however, that the iOS application is unreliable and says an update is coming soon.
As for security, John explained that the company’s privacy model is similar to YouTube’s. YouTube allows users to completely privatize videos, allow videos to be public and un-searchable, or fully public. Minus employs the last two, but will soon introduce a fully private option.
Minus will use the funding to hire more developers. It will also expand its server power to enable larger uploads. Lastly, some of the funds will be used to flesh out the fledgling social component and make it easier to discover content.
John and Carl chose IDG Capital Partners because of its experience with file sharing companies and candidly, because of the size of the firm.
“Just the fact that there’s a lot of capital involved, it’ll help us feel a lot safer,” said Xie.
Minus was launched in 2010, is located in New York City and currently has only two employees, John Xie and co-founder, president and chief executive Carl Hu. Funding to date totals $1.2 million with IDG Capital Partners and angels participating.