Geeked!

Tech entrepreneurs check in to Silicon Valley hoping to cash out

Photo by Scott Council

Chuck Baker
Age 41
Company Fileblaze
Description A service that lets you
securely transfer and preview large
files at maximum speeds.

Gaining the Right Skills
Whether tech entrepreneurs are part of an incubator or not, they must take key steps that enable their ventures to reach full potential.

“Technology is such that your idea needs to be special, it needs to solve a problem, and it needs to work,” says Chuck Baker, CEO of Fileblaze Inc., a cloud-based system for media professionals such as filmmakers, musicians, and producers who need to securely transfer and store large uncompressed files that can be viewed in real time without need of expensive, memory-intensive software.

Baker founded Fileblaze in 2009 with his partner/investor, Rhahime Bell. Fileblaze is differentiated from its file-sharing competitors such as YouSendIt and Dropbox by its speed; access controls, which require passwords to preview files and disable the recipient’s ability to download files; and streaming features. The 41-year-old former music producer and brand strategist put up six figures of his own money. The duo raised another $2 million in angel financing from 15 family members and friends, including former basketball star Alonzo Mourning and filmmaker Malcolm Lee. They’ve since brought on several angel investors, adding from $10,000 to $750,000 each, for a total that has exceeded $2.5 million. Baker plans to raise $15 million on their next round of financing.

The money didn’t flow into their coffers all at once. They would receive $50,000 here or $200,000 there. So instead of trying to build Fileblaze all at once, as the company received capital injections, Baker decided to target specific milestones such as the ability to stream media without downloading it or installing access controls that would limit viewing to the intended receiver. They started out with only four developers, recruited 75,000 users for a beta test group, and released the product four different times over 18 months updating after each iteration. Before the final launch on July 4, users had already transmitted 25 terabytes of data. With each milestone Fileblaze surpassed, the value of the company would increase. This way, Baker and Bell could command larger sums from investors for the same percentage equity stake and thereby raise additional funds without significantly reducing their majority equity position. Baker, the majority shareholder, projects revenues of $350,000 to $500,000 in 2011.

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ACROSS THE WEB
  • Yanni Brown

    I love the name of your business and the concept.