Sun and his three co-founders, Timothy Liu, Brian Tang and Vinod Chandru, have built an impressive productivity utility for use with Gmail, Google’s web based email service. I didn’t get to meet Chandru, which is why he’s not pictured here, as I took all of these pictures. Click on them to see them full size.
Liu, Tang and Sun allowed me to photograph them in their corner cubicle of the University of California Startup Accelerator @Skydeck, commonly referred to around campus as simply Skydeck. Have a look at the sweeping view in the photographs here. That’s San Francisco’s skyline directly behind the heads of Tang and Sun. Click the picture and wait for it to load in a new window. Then click the picture again to see the full size version. You can clearly see the San Francisco Bay Bridge through the glass window.
The Skydeck is located on the penthouse floor of the tallest building in Berkeley, at 2150 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California USA. This building is at the the top of the escalator from the circular exit to the Berkeley BART station.
Kloudless is still in private beta, and I have not personally used the service. But Sun did give me a great demonstration of the working site.
Eliot Sun knew up front that I am a blogger and that I would write this post.
Kloudless is targeted towards users that receive a lot of email with important attachments. Emails that contain attachments fill up email storage far faster than emails without attachments. Search in Gmail does not look inside attachments, according to Sun.
What Kloudless does is hard to believe hasn’t been done before, as it’s brilliant.
Kloudless has a plugin for Gmail that modifies the user’s options. A new option when one receives an email with an attachment is to move the attachment to that user’s account at either DropBox or Box, which are popular cloud storage services offered by two different companies.
If a Kloudless user directs the service to move the attachment file to DropBox or Box, the Kloudless service does so. What makes Kloudless deserving of winning competitions is that it remembers where it put the file. The next time the user views that email in Gmail, they won’t have the attachment directly available to them from Google. However, there will be a link to the file that is now stored in the cloud at either Box or DropBox. A file can be stored at both services at once, if the user so chooses.
Kloudless is storing the association between original email and the stored attachment now in the cloud outside of Google.
There is a screen in Kloudless where users can review all their attachments in a view that omits all the emails that did not have attachments originally. This condensed view is compelling, for its brevity. If a user finds a file they are interested in, that user can click back to the original email message that brought the file to them in the first place.
There’s a lot to like about the Kloudless business model. They are not a cloud storage provider, so they avoid having to store petabytes of data. They’re storing metadata, not attachments. Their own hosting costs should be moderate since they still have to pay for the bandwidth to move files around between Google and the cloud storage providers.
Kloudless is likely to be able to charge for this service, because it gives such useful control and quick access to users.
Users that embrace Kloudless are likely to stay customers forever, because if they quit the service, presumably they will lose their ability to associate their attachments with their emails, which could be painful.
Eliot Sun is a smart guy. He holds degrees in Mathematics and Economics as well as minors in Chinese and Latin, all from UC Berkeley. You don’t frequently find engineers that seriously studied Latin.
Sun also had the smarts to get his name as a domain name, which everyone should do if they can. There’s no better beach front real estate for your personal brand than your own name followed by .com.
Global Brain Corporation, a venture capital firm in Japan, invited Sun to attend their annual Global Brian Alliance Forum in December, 2011. Sun spent four days meeting with potential partners and one day at the Forum. Sun’s Kloudless presentation at the Forum was judged the best pitch of the event.
On September 22, 2011, Kloudless won first place in the Plug and Play EXPO at the Plug and Play Tech Center.
Including the IT and Web track at the Berkeley Startup Competition last month, that’s three wins in less than six months, and Kloudless hasn’t even launched yet.
Kloudless is a company to watch.
PS – I posted 16 more shots from my photoshoot with three of the four Kloudless co-founders to my Facebook profile, where you can subscribe to my updates. I had my studio lights with me as I was on my way to a photoshoot with model Annika, from my blog post about AlbertMing, an early adopter of Skydeck’s services that’s since moved to their own office space in Berkeley.