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Fastrack 2012: Data protection firm Vaultize bets on increasing Cloud adoption

As Cloud-adoption gains traction and SaaS-based services grow in popularity in India, prominent angel investor and Google India head Rajan Anandan makes an interesting observation -– India will be a “Cloud first IT market”. Anandan, who himself has invested in various SaaS and Cloud start-ups, was underpinning the expanding horizon of opportunities for Cloud companies in the country.

It is in the backdrop of this emerging trend that companies and products which thrive on ring-fencing unprotected data are propelled into the limelight. Like Vaultize, owned by Ansoomar Technologies Pvt. Ltd., which is engaged in developing software for Cloud-based data protection in a country where the concept has always been perceived as an overhead cost and an extra burden.

Vaultize was one of the top 20 startups to watch out for in 2012 selected as part of Techcircle Fastrack 2012. (See other Fastrack winners here.

Waltz on the Cloud

Vaultize is in simple words a cloud-based data backup service. It takes data from your systems and embeds it in a hosted server in the cloud.  That is hardly anything new, but Vaultize claims to be different from other data storage companies in certain aspects such as – if companies prefer some kind of data to be accessible to a certain group of people alone, Vaultize allows that; another feature is disaster recovery of data and private cloud for companies that want to have their data with themselves and all the controls with it.

Ankur Panchbudhe & Anand Kekre

Vaultize was founded by Anand Kekre and Ankur Panchbudhe in 2010. The founder duo has worked together in various organisations including McAfee, Reconnex Corporation, Symantec and Veritas Software. Kekre and Panchbudhe have a host of patents.  Kekre has around 53 patents granted by USTPO and Panchbudhe owns over 20 patents in US and Europe in the field of data protection, security, disaster recovery and storage virtualisation.

The company was in stealth mode till September 2011, when it came out in the public at a tech event in Mumbai. From May 2010 to September 2011 they were assiduously building their product, acquiring customers and in the process generating a lot of buzz. The company is bootstrapped completely by both founders and remains externally unfunded till date.

The trigger

When they wanted to start Vaultize and approached some investors, they were goaded to start the company in the US on the premise that the product might not work in India. That was the trigger which has pitch-forked Vaultize into the spotlight now.

“That was something that we took up as a challenge and we just put all our strength to build the company from India,” Kekre says. Vaultize is now looking to raise funds, but there was a time after the launch when investors came to them to open their purse strings only to be politely declined. The reason simply was that since they were just starting out they didn’t have a traction or a consumer base, which was affecting their valuation by investors. So they wanted to wait till they have a reasonable market traction and then approach investors.  The duo, who had had left their jobs, are at ease to tell us that they “missed their salary a lot” in the initial few months. The founders were totally focused on building the customer portfolio of the company then and didn’t want any distractions. Though not revealing exactly what kind of traction they have gained, Kekre said that for last nine months, the company has doubled its growth in every quarter. Vaultize counts big enterprises including Allergan, KWE, Stoneridge, Varroc and Vantage among its customers.

The company offers its services in the U.S., India, Australia and Middle East through channel partners and is looking to expand in the same way. “We have a very channel-focused go-to-market strategy. We will grow and offer services through our channel partners,” said Kekre, co-founder and CEO, Vaultize.

Vaultize recently launched a new service called cloud-in-a-box, where the complete Vaultize solution comes bundled in a server (rack-mounted or tower-mounted) for companies that wish to utilise the services, but keep the data with them, physically, too. It is one of the unique services it provides. On the homepage of its website a fun animation not only tells you why to use Vaultize, but explains what is cloud-based data back-up to the technologically challenged. In terms of pricing, the company charges $1.2 per gigabyte (GB) per month on the amount of storage consumed in cloud after de-duplication and compression. Its server is hosted in the US. For businesses subscribing to less than 100 GB, the pricing is $1.5 per GB per month.

Kekre and Panchbudhe have also filed for a few patents for Vaultize. With a solid product in hand and soon-to-be-funded status, Vaultize seems to have everything going for it. Kekre admits that they were surprised by the reception in India. “India has always been a follower market, but we were pleasantly surprised to see how open the market was to cloud. There is very good adoption of cloud in Indian market,” he added. The company is looking to open offices in countries like US and UK, which will put Vaultize further on the international radar, though it currently also renders services internationally. The company’s focus is SMBs and it doesn’t intend to get into the B2C segment.

“We are architected for multi-tenant cloud with high scalability, reliability and robustness. Because of our architecture, we can give various deployment options like public cloud, virtual private cloud, private cloud, on-premise and Cloud-in-a-box appliance – which nobody in the world today provide,” Kekre claims.

Vaultize competes with sites like Druva Software in India and Dropbox, which is a B2C company.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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