Stage: Beta (public testing)
Number of employees: 6-15
Investors: Jai Choi
Investors: Brian Lee, Mark Kolokotrones, Tom Turney, Greg Arrese, Kamran Pourzanjani, Henry Parry-Okeden, Erik Rannala, Brad Jones
younity creates a personal cloud for all your files, built from your devices and your online services, so that all your devices work as if they were a single device. With younity, you can grab whichever device is most convenient without ever thinking about where a file is.
younity is a ubiquitous data protocol that integrates into device OSes, making them inherently multi-device aware. With younity, users can use any device they own and have access to any file as if it was stored locally on that device, regardless of available storage. With younity, devices simply become screens. Customer Problem: Consumers today are overwhelmingly multi-device users, yet OSes are still designed around single device usage. Consumers have lots of data stuck on their devices. They are unable to put it all in the cloud and/or it costs too much; existing solutions are also management intensive, requiring constant user interaction.
Solution / Product: younity makes all a consumer’s devices work as if they were a single device. By extracting the file system from an OS and putting it into the cloud, younity establishes a singular file system from multiple devices that is pushed back into the native OS. Thus, the OS does not know where files are stored – on the local hard drive, on another device or some online service or all of those places. This eliminates a file’s stored address from a device to an identity. Any device registered to a user has all that person’s files and all devices look the exact same. The only difference between devices is whether there is enough storage to store local or virtual copies.
Competitors: younity is most similar to iCloud. However, unlike iCloud, younity is OS agnostic, application agnostic, file-type agnostic, vastly easier to use and cheap or free for any amount of data.
Target Market: Consumers with 3 or more Internet-enabled devices (over 220M people in the US alone). Research shows: the average household will have 2.2TB of data by 2013; consumers will have an average of 5.8 devices/person by 2015; and 51% of households have both MS and Apple products (as of late 2011). Data synchronization products that accommodate partial data start at about $450/year for 250GB of online storage, with utility online storage costing vastly more. There are currently no cross-platform solutions for users that can accommodate all their data, let alone deliver it into their native device functionality.
Q. You've been around since 2010, What's the traction been like?
A. The idea for younity was born in 2010, but the company was angel funded and started hiring in summer of 2011. Our product is not a strong fit for "lean methodology"- it is enormously complicated and simply requires a lot of hands working the keyboard to make it work (typical for heavy duty, client-server software).
The additional challenge was making it simple for consumers. After hiring our team late in 2011, we were able to take our prototype and get a private beta done by July, then launch into public beta in December 2012. Traction has been good since launching in December 2012, we've been adding thousands of users/month and engagement is high.
Q. How are you marketing this? Is there a viral component?
A. Our product is inherently personal (it's a "personal cloud"), which makes the viral coefficient low. However, we've been developing a unique way for people to share any file that is stored on any device making them sharable directly to another person via a private Facebook post. This will be launched the week of Vator Splash.
Q. What's the distribution model? What's the business model? How much will you be charging for this service?
A. younity has a direct to consumer strategy and will be offered as a freemium service that is free for up to 3 devices. For 4 or more, there is a flat annual fee that we anticipate will be around $24/year (although we have not finalized this yet). Other than the limit on devices, the free version of younity is not limited in any way- it is the same as the premium version.
Q. Where do you go from here? What other services could you offer?
A. Currently we are working with a variety of app vendors to enable offline data in their apps via our API. As a ubiquitous data protocol, younity is really about unifying data around a user's identity. This has a variety of applications, with younity being the first.
Q. Is this a consumer-only product? Are you making something for the enterprise?
A. For now, we are focused on leading in the consumer market. However, we are well aware of a variety of enterprise applications to enable an on-premise younity server with a policy engine attached to it. In fact, we regularly are asked if this would be available now (it isn't).
While data synchronization aims to solve this problem, it is hindered by the requirement for online storage, local storage or both; and generally plagued by the high cost of online storage (costing hundreds of dollars/year Should this be hundreds and possibly thousands?). younity does not store your files online, rather it integrates with other online storage services. Should a device not have adequate local storage, it overcomes the need for it by virtualizing data. younity acts as a protocol, similar to WiFi, that is the glue between a user’s identity, devices and data. The result is these features being delivered natively into devices – no magic folders, no management, no configuration and no user interface.
Patent #8296338 Issued: "Method for a cloud-based meta-file system to virtually unify remote and local files across a range of devices' local file systems"