In recent years, the concept of the social enterprise has taken the business world, both small and large, by storm. In the early days of this transformation, it was the likes of Yammer (rapidly scooped up in 2012 by Microsoft) and Salesforce’s Chatter, or even Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box who were at the forefront of improving the way we collaborate, communicate, and share information in organizations. With the concurrent shift to the cloud, the popularity of deployed tools has receded and a flood of cloud-based productivity tools have entered the space, including the most recent star startup, Slack. With so many cloud-based collaboration tools out there, is there room for more innovation in this crowded space? Recently launched NYC and Paris-based startup FileChat strongly believes so.
How they plan to make cloud social
Founded in 2013 by Armelle Coquart, Emmanuel Salah, and William Ayache, FileChat initially started in Paris, where the project has been in private beta over the last year. As their name suggests, FileChat bring chat-driven social engagement to various types of files, which are increasingly stored in cloud. While most cloud-based services like Dropbox or Box allow users to add notes on to specific documents, with the exception of perhaps GoogleDrive, they haven’t yet fully integrated functionality for users to chat and engage in real-time on specific content (text/data files, photos or videos). The FileChat team is betting that this will become an increasingly important gap for users as teams become more dispersed as they internationalize or work remotely or, in the case of consumers, families and friends become more dispersed as a result of increased mobility. FileChat CEO Alberto Escarlate provides more context around issue, adding:
“Proven cloud storage solutions such as Google Drive and Dropbox need an easy and common way to make collaboration and messaging more effective for businesses and consumers alike.The new FileChat application gives users complete control over their cloud and will usher in a new way of managing documents and files and discussing them in one single user-friendly platform.”
An obvious question is whether employees or even consumers are prepared to use yet another productivity tool. FileChat is determined to resolve this issue by taking an integration approach; seamlessly integrating FileChat with all major cloud storage platforms, including Dropbox and Google Drive, and bringing a social layer to these widely-used tools. Users can easily invite new guests to view and collaborate on the files and remove guests as needed. They’ve also launched both Android and iOS apps to enable users to collaborate on the go. And, finally, being dead-easy and near seamless, the on-boarding is a big plus which will undoubtedly help them attract users of big cloud storage platforms more quickly.
$3 million seed round and big push in the US
In conjunction with their big launch earlier this month, they also announced closing a $3 million seed round with France-based angel investors, which will help them to quickly integrate with other platforms such as OneDrive, Box and Amazon Cloud Drive and scale-up first in the US. In terms of business model, their plan is to take a freemium approach, launching various value-added paid features in the near future.