Björn Kolbeck (Co-Founder, CEO) and Felix Hupfeld (Co-Founder, CTO) © Nils Lucas
What inspired you to found your startup?
We knew that software storage would take off in a big way when we were working on the parallel file system XtreemFS for our PhDs. But it wasn’t until after, while at Google, that it hit us. The benefits of software storage were so obvious: tiny teams operate the internet giant’s vast and globally distributed storage infrastructure. There was some ground to cover to get the product ready for real-world use cases, but we knew we could do it and there was no doubt about the need for better storage.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
Building a sustainable business and an inclusive workplace that people love. Only then can we build a great product that breaks with the storage status quo and brings it to the next level.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Business or product-wise we wouldn’t do much different and we’re still tracking the original plan. But there were a few D’Oh moments – like when we got our first server rack. WIthout much planning, we just bought one, carried it up to our office – these things weigh about 100kg – only to find it didn’t fit in there at all. So we ended up with quite an expensive corridor clogging device until we moved offices.
What problem does your product solve?
We keep the most important asset of today’s companies safe and sound: their data. That data needs to be safely stored while at the same time quickly accessible by all kinds of applications. Whether it’s a number-crunching financial institution, a life sciences company running genome sequencing, or a Hollywood studio with volumes of video data and the need for a scalable and universally accessible digital production infrastructure – their success depends on fast and reliable storage.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
If things go well, Quobyte becomes a household name in IT infrastructure.
How are you different?
We’re the first to prove that you can build storage for any real-world use case entirely in software while running on standard servers. We also show that it can be done without any downsides – quite the opposite: A Quobyte-based storage infrastructure is more flexible, more reliable, has a better performance, and is quite a bit cheaper to set up and operate than traditional products. We actually outperform the traditional storage solutions of our multi-billion dollar competitors.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
Daily. Systems like ours are used by companies of all sizes and we want them to not worry about where their data is stored even when it’s distributed over many different machines. Ideally, they just work with the data without any impediments. When your computer’s hard drive fails, that data is gone. If one or more of the drives in a Quobyte storage infrastructure fails, companies won’t notice because our system deals with it in the background and passes out the data as though nothing happened.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
I guess we free IT staff from tedious tasks and give them time to work on more interesting projects, for example in the Life Sciences and other sciences. Microscopes, genome sequencers, satellites, and other scientific instruments amass huge amounts of data that need to be efficiently stored and quickly accessed. Enabling fast analyses on Big Data and efficiently storing it is what Quobyte’s great at. So, in a way, we help push scientific progress.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
When we started in 2013, Berlin already seemed to be the rising star in the startup world, but it still seemed more hype than real business. That has changed: Berlin is now firmly planted on the world map of startup hubs and has a vibrant ecosystem of startups of all sorts, VCs, startup and tech events, and much more. It attracts talent and is hopefully developing its own sustainable version of a productive and inclusive startup culture.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
There’s nice, affordable office space here – with a view! We work from the top floor of one the tallest buildings at Zoo station. It’s also great to be able tap a pool of talented people that help us grow the company and develop an ever better product. As one the few startups in Berlin in the infrastructure space, we were able to recruit and retain a great team of engineers. But Berlin’s pretty far off when it comes to the storage business; that’s why we opened another office in Silicon Valley
Bonus Question: Anything else that we need to know about you?
Quobyte was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.