It's hard enough to keep one small-business location operating smoothly. Running six locations can be a recipe for disaster. That's the challenge facing SusieCakes, a home-style bakery with half a dozen stores across California, and the reason chief financial officer Houston Striggow turned to Dropbox for Teams, a new premium version of the popular file-sharing application designed expressly for business customers.
"I used to think that all of our stores were on the same page in terms of files, folders and current versions of documents, but I discovered that a set of documents in one bakery can be very different from another, and not everyone was operating from the most current version of the playbook," Striggow says. "Dropbox forced us as a company to become more organized. When I talk to our management teams, they all say it has made their lives easier. It has definitely made my life easier."
Dropbox is nothing new, of course. More than three years after the original free solution launched--giving users the flexibility to share and access documents, photos and videos across virtually every smartphone or desktop operating system--it is now a standard at more than 1 million businesses, with more than 45 million users worldwide.
"Dropbox is changing how people work," says Sujay Jaswa, vice president of business development and sales. "Instead of e-mail attachments or being unable to check in on the latest draft of a PowerPoint presentation, people can access the files they need, wherever they are, regardless of device."
But customers demanded more. "Users want one Dropbox experience across their professional and personal lives," says Armando Mann, head of Dropbox for Teams. "We want to embrace that trend, so we worked with IT managers in companies of all sizes to enhance the product utility."
Priced at $795 per year for five users (plus another $125 per year for each additional user), Dropbox for Teams integrates administrator utilities like centralized billing and phone support, as well as controls to add and remove authorized workers. The base plan boasts 1,000 GB of storage, with 200 GB more for each additional user.
"It's a ton of space," Mann says. "We don't want people to be concerned about space. We want businesses to use [Dropbox for Teams] freely. At the end of the day, we don't want you to think about storage. We want you to stop worrying."
To that end, Dropbox for Teams also stresses data security and reliability. All files are encrypted in secure data centers hosted on the Amazon S3 web service; for added backup, files also remain on users' Dropbox-synced computers.
"Any worker in front of a device with an on-off switch should have Dropbox on it," Mann says. "It simplifies your life. It brings everything you care about with you."
Indeed, simplicity is the key ingredient. "I'm not a real technical person," Striggow says. "For me, if you can't engage applications easily and quickly, then they're not as useful as they need to be. I don't hire tech people--I hire people who can bake well, who can manage well and who can deliver excellent customer service. I wish I had an IT department, but I don't, so any solutions we adopt have to be very simple and very useful."
For SusieCakes, Dropbox for Teams is made-to-order. "With Dropbox, I don't have to worry if one of my servers goes down at a bakery. All our data is backing up 100 percent of the time, and it's automatically saved," Striggow says. "And with Dropbox for Teams, there's someone I can contact when I do have a problem. I like that [Dropbox] hasn't lost the personal side of business. That's how we've been successful as a company: by focusing on personal relationships."
Chicago-based writer Jason Ankeny is the executive editor of Fiercemobile content, a daily electronic newsletter dedicated to mobile media, applications and marketing.