Startup of the Month: Younity - Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

by Tiffany Laurence
August 27, 2013

Interview with Co-Founder Erik Caso of Younity


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Tell us more about what Younity brings to the consumer and how this idea came about?

In a nutshell, Younity makes all of your devices work as if they were one device. You can access every file you have: photos, music, playlists, videos and documents, from any device you own. The idea was really born out of necessity. Like most people, I am a multi-device user. If you think about it, over the last 10 years, virtually everyone has become a multi-device user. We used to compute for certain reasons right? You had to write a proposal or do something from a productivity standpoint, which drove people to use a computer for that specific reason. But it’s not like that anymore, you compute all day every day for all reasons now. We have these new mobile devices because computing is really something that is contextual. When you’re on the street you aren’t going to get out your laptop, and when you’re at home editing family photos and videos you don’t want to have to use your phone. You want to use the biggest computer you have with the biggest screen and the most horsepower and storage, so you use a desktop computer. Each of these devices is totally relevant to what we are doing at different times, but while we have all become multi-device users at the same time operating systems just stayed single device operating systems. They were built around what you do on a specific computer only.


So most people would look at Younity and instantly think this is comparable to the cloud?

Well it is a cloud, but it’s consumerization of the cloud. The cloud was sort of the next step to how we solve this problem of: well I have something on this desktop so how do I get it to that one? We have great companies that have come out of utility online storage and connecting that to other devices. Really that was sort of making a bad problem worse, because you have it here now you’re storing it over there and now I have access to it somewhere else. What we then have is a central mediary and there’s all this activity that you have to do to access certain files. Of course it’s expensive...I mean, the cloud is not cheap. Really the cost of software, hardware and data ends up costing us an entire army of high paid engineered to harness everything.

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So when referring to the consumerization, if you look at the cloud, its success is going to change computing forever. No one is bad mouthing it, it’s very enterprise-oriented and enterprises are perfectly willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on this if there’s a benefit to it. But consumers aren’t that way; they don’t want to change their behavior. They don’t really want to buy anything unless it’s very cheap and easy to use. The cloud hasn’t done that. Younity needed to make it more affordable and very easy to use this platform which is why we built it into the OS of every device you have. It turns your them into your very own data center, which in turn becomes your personal cloud. It works just like a normal cloud, we just took ‘us’ out of the equation. The benefit is that it’s really affordable (in fact right now it’s free) and extremely user friendly.


Is this Apple-software related only? Have you also developed for android?

Right now it’s only on Windows, Mac, and iOS. We will be adding Android, and beyond that, we’ll see how the market shakes out on other platforms. Really, in the long term, every device will be a part of Younity. Even your TV or Xbox, eventually. What people want is not to have to think about where everything is. They want to think about which screen they want to access it from immediately. The goal is to say, whether I am at this laptop, my family TV, or my upstairs desktop, I can access anything I have at any time I want.


What is the type of feedback you’ve gotten from consumers during beta testing?

It’s been excellent. One of the biggest questions we get is why we aren’t on Android. But that’s something we’ll definitely come to. Android and iOS have different nuances, benefits and tradeoffs. Android is a great platform, but we are choosing not to deal with the fragmentation of that development. When you look at the consumer numbers, yes there are many Android users out there, but we have to be keenly aware of is the fact that lots of those users are on the non-technical, non-media centric side. They are using low-cost Android devices and running old versions of the OS which doesn't get updated frequently enough. Our target demographic is comprised of users with lots of computers and mobile devices, who are heavily involved in tech and media. When you have lots of data across multiple devices, that overwhelmingly leaves iOS to start with. For us, that was just the logical choice in our early development stage. For others, it could be entirely the opposite. So it’s tricky because a lot of the consumer world will be upset that we aren’t supporting the Android world initially. We don’t have any bias against the Android community, but we have to think: how do we get the right test group to figure out how things work? And as it matures, making sure it’s working well enough will help to bring it over to every device.

By end of this year or roughly beginning of next year, we are looking at releasing a big update to our platform, which focuses on our long-term goals. Right now it’s still an amazing product and I think as people come across it they will feel the same. Being able to access anything you want on any device at any time is really the ideal user experience with a personal cloud.

A little about Younity: brought to you by Entangled Media, a company focused on changing the relationship between people, data and devices. While designing and building software/online services, they consider themselves as a user experience. Their design philosophy is structured around user behaviour and the technology and content which surrounds us. They see the potential for it to exist simutaneously everywhere for us to access easily and on-demand.

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