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3 Ways Sync.com Grew Amid Incredible Competition The team behind the cloud-storage platform realized early on that charting their own path would lead to growth and new opportunities.
Google. Amazon. Microsoft. If tech giants like these are providing similar services to what your business plans to offer, most aspiring entrepreneurs would run and hide. That wasn't the case for the founders of cloud-based file sharing platform Sync.com. They had a plan from the start that enabled them to scale even while up against the likes of OneDrive, Dropbox, and others.
"We built Sync because we wanted a cloud storage platform that we ourselves could trust to keep our own data safe," Sync president Thomas Savundra says. Savundra co-founded the company in Toronto in 2011 with business partners and long-time college friends Suhan Shan and Darius Antia.
"Nobody offered the security and privacy we were looking for, not even the tech giants," Savundra continues. "The biggest companies in the world tend to move slowly and seem to be disconnected from the real-world challenges people are facing every day. That in itself gives startups and disruptors a huge advantage and gave us the confidence to get started with Sync."
In those early startup days, Savundra and his co-founders were laser focused on building the brand around keeping customer data safe. Today, the same goal holds true, even as the company reached the milestone of a million active users in January of this year.
"People are doing amazing, wonderful and world-changing things with Sync," Savundra says. "Educators, lawyers, health-care practitioners, and essential service workers use Sync to keep the confidential data entrusted to them safe and secure. Researchers, content creators, project managers, engineers and consultants use Sync's secure sharing and collaboration tools to keep their next big ideas private."
Here are three ways the team at Sync grew a startup amid what others would consider to be insurmountable competition.
1. Creating a memorable brand.
When the company first launched, its name was actually Sync.Us. The thinking at the time was that the name communicated a "Sync for Us" idea. But even from the start, Savundra says they knew it wasn't exactly right. "There's more to branding than just the name, however, and simply by launching we were able to build the core ideals that encompass our mission of keeping people safe and secure in the cloud," he says.
To Sync's co-founders, creating a memorable brand required having a clear "why," or purpose, that's inclusive to all types of customers. As the business evolved, they eventually dropped the "for Us" in the name. In doing so, they believed that Sync more clearly signals their purpose and it began to resonate with a much wider audience, Savundra says.
"Building trust is all about staying true to who you are while at the same time seizing opportunities and not being afraid to branch out," he says. "Customers will love you for this."
2. Collaborating to build a scalable storage infrastructure.
With a mission to build an easy-to-use platform that safely stores customer data, scalability was top-of-mind at Sync. That meant developing enterprise-grade availability, reliability and redundancy were key requirements.
At first, the Sync team set out to accomplish this in-house, on their own. "This gave us more control over the optimizations that were needed for performance, allowing for much closer integration with our syncing software," Savundra says. "This also gave us the ability to be very competitive from a cost perspective, at scale, without compromising on quality."
But the small team was pushing its limits. "We were sourcing hardware from multiple vendors ad-hoc and even bidding on drives from various ecommerce sites," Savundra says. "With this approach, we eventually found ourselves spending too much time managing a very shaky supply chain, and that in itself was limiting."
Eventually, Sync began collaborating with Seagate Technology, a global data storage company, to help them scale the business. "With more than a million users, our platform is scaling at the petabyte level, and as data demand into our infrastructure grows, so does the cost to expand our infrastructure," Savundra says. "We found a partner in Seagate who helped us lower our infrastructure cost without losing the predictable performance we wanted. Finding a reliable supplier has made a huge difference in how fast we can scale."
Turns out Seagate's Exos series storage solutions packed with today's highest capacity hard drives became a building block for Sync.com. The solution allows Sync.com to access data very quickly for its customers. In a high data retention environment and with infrastructure expected to scale accompanied by customer demand, the Seagate storage solution provided Sync.com the lower cost of hardware ownership they were looking for.
3. Having a passionate focus on delighting customers.
It's one thing to offer customers safe and reliable cloud service. Providing smart and friendly customer service on top of that helps set the Sync brand apart from the competition, Savundra says.
"The seeds for this approach were planted early on when we started mailing unique, hand-written thank-you notes to each of our new customers," he says. "We were so thankful that people were actually using Sync and we wanted to express our thanks on a more personal level."
While mailing hand-written notes isn't sustainable for a fast-growing company, they proved to be effective conversation starters in Sync's early days. Today, customer service remains a top priority. The customer service team is completely in-house and works closely alongside product development so they are quick, knowledgeable, and delightfully helpful when customers reach out with a question.
"If you can get your teams in alignment, everyone can help, and the rewards are incredible," Savundra says. "Engaging with customers on an ongoing basis has helped our company be more approachable, helped us establish trust and open communication continues to help strengthen our core values—that Sync provides a safe space for the world to collaborate."
Click here to learn more about how Sync.com can protect your data and help your teams increase productivity.