This Founder Evolved From IT Consultant To Online Backup Service With Over 200 Employees

When Raghu Kalkarni started IDrive in 2000 with the aim of helping companies backup their data online, that wasn’t even possible. Bandwidths were too low for companies to upload data to the “cloud.” But Kalkarni, then a programmer at Oracle, read the tea leaves.

“Something clicked in my mind. I knew it would happen eventually,” he says.

Adapting To Remain Competitive

Kalkarni and his team started out doing IT consulting. A few years later, when data transfer speeds increased, he was able to bootstrap the company’s shift to online backup services.

As competitors proliferated and the industry evolved, IDrive had to adapt. It introduced low-cost plans, the ability to backup multiple computers on a single account, and custom encryption keys to secure data before it left a client’s network. IDrive grew to nearly 200 employees and tens of millions of dollars in revenues. It carved out a niche serving small and medium-sized businesses.

Still competition remains fierce in the $19-billion cloud-based storage and backup market, expected to balloon to $65 billion by 2020.

More Data Than Ever Before

Several years ago, IDrive had to evolve again. The company realized that its clients were producing an unprecedented volume of data. That was both because IDrive was serving larger customers and because companies were producing more information than ever before in the age of Big Data.

Ongoing backups were speedy, but it was taking some new customers several weeks—and all their bandwidth—to do an initial data upload to the cloud.

To address the problem, in 2013 the Calabasas, Calif.-based company launched IDrive Express. Customers received a physical hard drive, backed up their data, and shipped it back to IDrive to be uploaded within a week.

“It sounds kind of funny to talk about physical transportation to do all this, but it is in fact faster to do that initial upload of data. Once the data is with us, everything else becomes incremental,” says IDrive developer Nic DeVos.

Overcoming A New Challenge

The success of IDrive Express created an unexpected problem. To track these orders, IDrive initially used its general support ticketing system, which was designed to help support staff interact with customers.

“We started getting so many of these IDrive Express orders, it was clogging up the ticketing system. It was just too much for one system to handle,” DeVos says.

The company knew it needed a dedicated order management database to efficiently track and process iDrive Express orders. DeVos planned to build one in-house, but other priorities interfered.

Building An Order Management System With Gigster

Kalkarni and DeVos decided to outsource the project to Gigster. DeVos handed over his design for the database and explained how it should interact with the company’s existing servers.

DeVos checked in with his Gigster product manager every day. “She was super responsive and easy to get in touch with,” DeVos says. “So the feedback cycle was really quick.”

Within two months, the system was ready. The product manager sent DeVos all of the relevant code so his team could easily deploy the system and build on it.

“The coding was very well done. It was easy to take it and run with it. To me that was big—we had the ability to extend it in the future, but we didn’t have to do that initial bulk of coding,” he says.

The new system allows staff to track IDrive Express orders through every step in the process, immediately seeing whether an order is pending, shipped, or at the data center. It sends email notifications to customers informing them of the status.

“It’s a win-win in terms of us being able to see exactly where we are in all of our orders and the customer having much better visibility,” DeVos says.

Most importantly, the new system has made the popular IDrive Express service more efficient. “Staff have all the information they need right on the page and can interact very quickly with the order. There’s been a pretty big amount of time saved,” DeVos says.

Continuing To Evolve

IDrive hasn’t stopped innovating. The company has been adding features in order to expand beyond consumers and small businesses to cater to larger enterprises.

It has also started exploring new services. For the past year, IDrive has been developing a free messaging app called Talq to help small businesses communicate with customers. When it came time to polish the app and improve functionality, IDrive again turned to Gigster.

“We don’t have enough manpower to dedicate, and I wanted to use Gigster again because I had such a good experience,” DeVos says.

It’s the latest evolution that is helping IDrive stay ahead of the game. “There’s a big opportunity there to disrupt,” says Kalkarni. “We want to be one of the players, if not the leading player, in this space.”

If you need help building your own database, Gigster can help.