SaaS Founder Interview with Andrea Pfundmeier, Co-Founder of Boxcryptor
Tony Zayas 0:07
Hey everybody. Welcome to the set on a tech founders show almost at SaaS founders show that our, plans to show up on our tech founder show. I’m Tony Zayas your co host, joined by Andy Halko. Andy, we are coming back after having our big tech throwdown. So that was an exciting week. I know you did that one from the mountains. How was that?
Andy Halko 0:29
Good. I feel like I’d been gone for a month. But I think it’s only been a week. And so yeah, last week, I was in Denver. And we did our tech throwdown. And we had a winner of our pitch contest, which was fun. And so, last week was an exciting week.
Tony Zayas 0:45
Yeah, it was cool, you know, unique show that we were able to do and to see new ideas and innovation was exciting. So always cool to talk to people who have really cool things in the works, exciting technologies. So this week, we have Andrea Pfundmeier, she’s the founder of BOXCRYPTOR. And BOXCRYPTOR is the market leader for security solutions in the arena of Cloud Storage. So there’s a topic that everybody deals with everyone uses cloud storage today. You hear the stories of you know, people’s iCloud accounts getting hacked and all that. And it’s crazy stuff. So, Andrea, how are you doing?
Andrea Pfundmeier 1:25
Hi, I’m fine. Thank you. Thanks for having me on the show.
Tony Zayas 1:29
Yeah, well, thank you for being here. You’re you’re coming in from Germany near Munich. So very cool to have international founders on. So tell us, tell us a bit about the company. And then we’ll dive in from there.
Andrea Pfundmeier 1:44
Yes, thanks. So I’m Andrea. And I started BOXCRYPTOR 10 years ago, together with my co founder, Robert. And BOXCRYPTOR is an encryption software. And encrypted software, it’s nothing new, like ancient cultures used encryption, or ciphertext to encrypt the messages. But when we became founders 10 years ago, we wanted to start a different company. And therefore we wanted to store files in Dropbox. And back then 10 years ago, there was no good encryption solution, which allowed us to use Dropbox without giving up comfort. So we still wanted to be able to share files to access files from different devices to work together from different places and still use encryption. And after there was no such solution available on the market. We developed BOXCRYPTOR and brought the product to market by ourselves. So BOXCRYPTOR is encrypting, for example Dropbox, but also Google Drive SharePoint. And we very recently added encryption for Microsoft teams as well.
Andy Halko 2:59
So you’ve been doing this for 10 years, you said, right?
Andrea Pfundmeier 3:03
Yes, exactly. Wow,
Andy Halko 3:05
that that’s an amazing time period. You know, that being in in a company what I guess what really took you over the edge of saying, like, we’ve got this problem, but now we need to get out there and solve it.
Andrea Pfundmeier 3:22
And so from the background, I’ve studied law and economics, my co founder, he started computer science. So from a technical aspect, we were sure we want to use like state of the art storage solution, we want to use Dropbox. And in combination with my background, we knew that just putting our information, our company information, our customer information in the cloud without additional security is not the best idea to do. So we looked out, how can we encrypt files. And as we couldn’t find a solution that matched our needs, we developed our very own very, very first prototype. So we had like an alpha version. And to get first market feedback on it, we put the alpha version online in the Dropbox forum. So we made a post and said, Hey, by the way, we’ve developed an encryption software for Dropbox, if you would like to test it yesterday. And within a week, 1000 people downloaded and installed the software. So back then we knew okay, we are not the only ones who had this issue. There are more people out there. So we started. And the journey was in the beginning the product was available for free. We just wanted to get feedback. And then we got emails, even from people from the US, for example, who said, Oh, I like this product or this product or this project. How can I donate money? Do you have a PayPal address? I would like to send you some money that you continue with the development. And this was also one of the signals we got from the market that we knew. Okay, there might be potential for product and for a company based on this encryption, and so we focused on it, we, we added more features to BOXCRYPTOR. We put our 1.0 version on the market. And then we grew the team and started the journey.
Tony Zayas 5:14
I would say that’s a pretty good signal when people say, hey, where can I send us some money? Right? Evidently, yes. Yeah, that’s awesome. So, again, having been in the space for 10 years, I would like to just get a sense of one of the big changes that we’ve seen in that, were you that you’ve seen him in the space of, you know, Cloud Storage, encryption, security? What’s What are the big changes that over the last 10 years, I’m sure there’s been a lot, but what are the key ones? And how have you guys adapted and evolved.
Andrea Pfundmeier 5:52
So in the very beginning, when we started encryption, and maybe it’s still today, it’s a niche market. So there were people out there who realized that they might need additional security and encryption for the data. But it was not like 100% of users came to Russia to us and encrypted their data. This changed in 2013, when there was the NSA affair, where this issue was, like very public, like your data is not secure, and other people are looking at the data. And also at the very start, when we started the company in 2011, there was a security issue at Dropbox, so they did a wrong coding. And for four hours, you could access the accounts without password, so there was no password checking it. And this brought us a lot of press coverage, because then magazines wrote about this issue. And then they mentioned us as a potential solution for this security threat. And then the NSA affair. And then also, quite recently, the European data protection laws, which were established the GDPR, which definitely is also for US companies, a well known name, which regulates how to how you have to protect, for example, your clients data. And this also asked explicitly for encryption. And so in the beginning, we had like to explain to people, why do they need additional security? Why is it maybe not 100% good idea to store everything from your personal information, your company information, and protected in the cloud. And this change now. So today, people know that it would be a good idea to encrypt the data. But of course, not everybody is encrypting.
Andy Halko 7:42
So how long were you in that free version before you ended up making it paid. Was that a short period of time or long?
Andrea Pfundmeier 7:51
So we still have a basic free version today. So we are still having the premium model, we have a basic free version available for personal users who can use the software for free. And then we have a paid version, and also this change during the last years. So in the beginning, we had a one time fee, users had to pay I think 30 euros one time to use the product. And but then, after a couple of years, we realized that a one time fee is not an adequate payment for our service. Because we’re continuing to develop BOXCRYPTOR we’re adding more and more features, we have certain maintenance efforts that we need to do to support new systems, for example. And then we changed also in 2013, to a yearly subscription model. So and this remained during the last year. So we have a basic free version. And users who need, for example, to encrypt on more than two devices, or who wants to encrypt several cloud storage providers, they have to pay a yearly fee. And currently, it’s in US dollars 48 US dollars per year for private personal user who wants to encrypt his personal stuff. And of course, we also have special offers for companies and for larger enterprises who want to use the product. And this change in the pricing was also difficult. Of course, we had a lot of discussions with other users. Because when we changed in 2013, the subscription model in the software space, it was already established, but it was not very well known. So nowadays, everybody’s paying hundreds of subscriptions for several services. But 10 years or eight years ago, there were not so many services who charged on a yearly basis. So we had to discuss and explain to our users. So what kind of value are we delivering? So why is it good to pay a yearly fee because they can update? We are implementing new features. So this was also a big discussion. And yeah, it wasn’t. But it was, of course, from the financial side, it was very important for the company. Because then we do, we will have the renewals of the clients, they will renew the license. And we can like better look into the future of what kind of earnings we have in revenue.
Andy Halko 10:19
Our audiences typically founders, and I think that is one of the things that they struggle with most, especially in the beginning stages is, how do I price my product? Is there any now that you’ve been doing this, and you’ve kind of gone through a different journey with that? Any advice that you would give out the folks that are, you know, maybe sitting on an early product, trying to figure out like, how much how much should I charge for this?
Andrea Pfundmeier 10:43
Oh, prices are very, very difficult. So also, in the beginning, we didn’t have any clue on what kind of price we should put on the software. So we had, I think we had 30 euros in the beginning as a one time fee. And then we got emails from clients asking us, well, is this the price per year or per month? And we were like, hell no, are you one time one once in a lifetime. And then we were like, okay, that might not be the good price. But then we said at the end, of course, there’s the market view that the users who are willing to pay a certain price. And of course, on the other side, your service, or your product has a certain value. And I think it’s important as a founder to define what’s your value. Because in the end, if you have a product that is needed in the market, the clients are willing to pay a certain price. And if it’s like three 510 euros more or less per year, per month, it doesn’t matter as long as the value side is appropriate. And as long as you’re delivering the right value. And I think that’s not easy to figure out. But as long as you as a founder are convinced that it’s the right price for your product, it makes it a lot easier and communication. Because the clients, they will realize if you’re yourself are unsure about the price, and if you think maybe, oh, it’s too expensive, or it’s too cheap, and they will realize it, and then they will complain, and then you will have to read think about it anyways. So I would always go from the other side and ask like, what’s the value of my product? And what do I think it’s, it’s the value it’s delivering, and then finding a price.
Tony Zayas 12:22
Premium model goes, how has that worked for you guys, you know, converting users from free to paid? Are there lessons related to that, that you’ve learned over the years as well? Obviously, that’s a super popular model. But just wondering how that’s worked.
Andrea Pfundmeier 12:38
Yeah. So I think the freemium model was one of our best decisions during the founding process and the price discussions and decisions. Because, especially in the first years, we didn’t spend any money on advertising. So we did, we didn’t have any money, we were founders, we did a very small seed round a one year after we started, but before that we didn’t have any money to spend on advertising or marketing. And the free product up until today is a very good marketing instrument. So we have a lot of users who just want to try it out and sign up, would use it for free. And we nowadays get a lot of companies who come and ask for the product, because they get the recommendation from their employees. So employees who are using it as a personal user, and then who are recommending it in the companies, and then the companies come and buy larger licenses. So even if it’s a free user, he has a certain and often a big value for the company. And that makes it easier like to commit to this free version. And regarding the conversion rates, we have approximately 10% conversion from free to paid user, which is okay, I think we’re not doing a lot of optimizing on this number, because we also see the value in the free users. And for us, it worked out very well. And especially in the beginning, we got a lot of press coverage of BOXCRYPTOR, as it was a very new thing, like encryption for Dropbox was very new. And with the free product, also journalists had a good argument why they write about it, because it might be interesting for the readers. So it’s always better to write about a product which every reader can try out for free. Instead of saying, Well, this is a good product, but it costs you whatever kind of money. And so the first the first step of the customers, and the clients and the users to use BOXCRYPTOR is very, very low. It’s a free product, just an app, you can test it initially like it that you can either continue to use it for free, you can recommend it to others, or you can also upgrade if you need more features. But then the difficult question is what kind of features do I need to have a good conversion rate? So I think this is very difficult. So In our licensing, we have the free version for personal users, then we have a paid license for personal users. And then we have our business licenses. And to define the features between a free personal user and a paid personal user was quite easy. But then we had to think about which features can we add to make companies pay? And what kind of features do they need to have, for example, a company plan. And then we have an enterprise plan for larger companies? And what are the different what differentiates these plans that was, I think, more difficult for us than the original decision to make a premium model.
Andy Halko 15:40
That’s another thing that we always talk about is product roadmap. And, you know, how do you figure out what features to put in? How have you over time, like, from day one, figured out like, this is what it should do? And then over time, how do you continue to determine what the features are that you’re going to build into the product?
Andrea Pfundmeier 16:01
I think my co founder, Robert is a very good product manager, he made very good product decisions in the past. And what’s very important for us is that we have our own product roadmap in mind, of course, we get feedback from the market. But if we get feedback, 10 times or 20 times, it doesn’t mean that we completely rearranged our product plan and change the features and development issues. So we asked ourselves, what is the product we want to have? What’s the roadmap that we see, as founders from a strategic perspective, of course, with the with the influence of the feedback we get from our sales team, the feedback we get from social media, from our clients, and of course, also from our support team. And then we sometimes reprioritize the issues. So, for example, one thing we had, we had an app kind of app protection and our iOS app, where it could protect with a pin that somebody can access your file your encrypted files on your iPhone. And when we redesigned the app, we dropped this feature, because we said we don’t think it’s so important because you have inbuilt protection from Apple, you have a device protection, you don’t need a separate app protection for BOXCRYPTOR. And then we got very, very negative feedback about it, we got a lot of users who complained and said, it’s useless now. I need this protection. And this was one of the very, very rare cases where we, again, discussed this issue, and where we actually like re added this protection again. But my experience is often no matter what you do, there will always be people who like it, and people who don’t like it. And it’s not possible to make everybody happy. And I think it’s similar to the pricing. You as the founder or the management, you have to be convinced that it’s the right decision. And then you can communicate it, you can argument it if you need. And in the end, it’s for us as a product company, it’s easy, like we make an offering, and the client or the user can either like it and use it or not. And if it doesn’t, then he can go and use a different product. And this is a mindset that we established very, very early. And which really helped us there are a lot of companies out there who do development for clients. And of course, then whatever the client’s client wants, you have to develop it. But we always said, we are a product company. And we have a product which is used by users in 190 countries worldwide, we have more than half a million users. And of course, there might be single users who complain every day and write us tons of emails about features they would like. But they’re not the majority. And if they don’t like the product, they don’t have to use it. And I think this is an attitude, which is also important for the beginning. Because I remember the times when we started, of course, you would like to have money from everybody. And you would like to make everybody happy, and everybody love your product. But it’s simply not possible. In the end, you yourself have to like it, and you have to love it. And I’m convinced then you will find the market and the users for it.
Andy Halko 19:19
That’s something we’ve never talked about really is and I’m not sure if it happened to you, but have you ever had a change that you’ve made that has, you know, lost customers that you then realize, okay, this is a decision we made with the product that actually, you know, did negatively hurt our subscriptions or anything like that. I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about that with any other founders in the past but what you said kind of sparked my my my mind about it.
Andrea Pfundmeier 19:50
Yes, so this app protection which we recently like first dropped and then rebuilt into the product was definitely one of these things where we like underestimated the impact. have this feature and our existing users. And we had like to rearrange the product roadmap and said, Okay, no, we need to bring this feature back and edit to the product again. But in the past, we didn’t make a lot of wrong decisions, of course, the oldest decisions will make us lose people. So for example, that subscription model was one of it. And we still up today have users who write us emails and say, In the beginning, it was not a subscription. I don’t buy subscription products, I don’t want it and I don’t pay for it. Please, can I buy a one time at a one time fee? And then I will use the product? But yeah, so we don’t do it. A subscription is the right thing for us. So this was one thing. And I cannot remember any any big issues where we had, of course, we always have complaints. The more users you have, the more different opinions can come to come to the table. Yeah, no, but But despite this one very recent thing with the application, it was quite a big one. But all the rest didn’t really like touch us.
Tony Zayas 21:14
Talking about the user feedback, whether it’s positive or negative, you know, the user complaints, how do you guys, how do you handle all that input that’s coming your way, and then use that to make decisions and prioritize, you know, features and the direction that you’re moving as an organization? What is your process for, you know, filtering through and, and using that feedback.
Andrea Pfundmeier 21:41
So the feedback comes to us from different sides, of course, we have, for example, public reviews in the app stores, or in any public software related websites, where users can read the software. So we look at these issues, then our teams get direct feedback, for example, our support team who’s like dealing with clients, very often we’re not happy or where the software doesn’t behave the way it should. And what we do there, we collect the feedback that they have. And, and we collect it internally, so we can have a look at it. And also, the feedback from the assessed team is collected. But the difference is that the sales team is handling our larger company and enterprise clients. And of course, the feedback we get from this side has some kind of different value than the feedback of, for example, a free user. So a free user who never will pay any single euro or dollar for the product, and is giving us negative feedback has a completely different evaluation of value than the feedback we have from a client who’s spending several hundreds 1000s of euros per year on our product. But nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that we completely rearrange the product roadmap only based on the feedback. So this is still something all feedback that we have is collected in one place, and then matched with the product roadmap we ourselves have. And one example is, for example, one example, when a large company, a large client is giving us feedback, which is on the roadmap anyway, but maybe in a later point in the year, then this might be a moment where we say okay, we rearrange the priorities. And then we bring this feature, for example, earlier, to satisfy this one big client, and do the rest later. This is something that we can do. But what we don’t do and what we never did in the past 10 years is when companies asked us to do like individual development for them. For example, they said, Oh, yes, I like the product. But we would need this, this this. And this only should work on our servers and this and that. And can you build me like a new product with your we’re in the middle, there should be BOXCRYPTOR. And the rest should be something individually for us. In 99%, we say no to these requests, because it means that the development we do can only make one client happy, and not all the other five or 600,000 users out there. And so we never, never did this. And of course, from a founders perspective, this is very important in order to focus on the important things. Of course, they can the money would be earned, like the money would be earned very easily. If a client says oh, I need your product, please make some more changes and I will pay you and then I will have like my individual product. Of course, this is money earned very easily, but it’s money only on with one client and not with all the others and we have our product and our roadmap in mind. So we very, very often say no to these requests.
Tony Zayas 25:01
Do you think you’re on mute?
Andy Halko 25:03
How hard is it to push back on requests like that, or, you know, to not stay focused, because I think for a lot of founders, it can be hard to stay focused on, you know, this is our mission as a product.
Andrea Pfundmeier 25:17
It’s difficult to say no to these requests. Because I think everybody wants to make the customers happy. And of course, a low, only might take us one day, and then this client would be happy. And I said, a big deal. Maybe we could do it. But what I always try to remember is saying yes to one thing means saying no to the other thing. And then we have to, to make a decision. Like, do we really want to say no to the further development of our core product, which is like the future for our company, and which is important for our mission and vision? Just because we want to say yes to a client who might be unhappy, but still will remain client. And this is something that really helps me, like not saying yes to one thing, but asking myself, to what other projects? Am I saying no, in the moment that I decide to go this way. Of course, sometimes, for example, when you get paid for a certain development for a special client, it’s like, yeah, it’s only one day, and we could get money for it. But it doesn’t have you for the big product. And for the big picture.
Andy Halko 26:27
On the long term. I think, you know, any developer knows that if you build a feature, you still have to maintain that feature of the next five years. And so there’s much more than one day of cost.
Andrea Pfundmeier 26:40
Tony Zayas 26:44
Andrea, what is the what’s the team look like? I know, you mentioned a few different team components that you have. And you mentioned your co founder, I’d love to hear more about the BOXCRYPTOR team.
Andrea Pfundmeier 26:58
We are a team of 30 people. And we all located here in Germany, in the south of Germany, and Robin, I, we are the founders, we started with the companies. And then we have our development team, the marketing team sales team, customer service, and then of course, our office management. And one thing that I’m very happy of is that the team is very diverse. So we have almost 50% women 50% Men, which is very difficult in the IT space, and especially in the IT security space. And the biggest team is our development team, which also shows that we are very, very product focused product oriented, that the product for us is very important. And then comes marketing and sales. Customer service is a team of three people who are working with the clients. And what’s also important, although for example, the US is our second largest market, so 30% of our users, our clients come from the US. We have the whole team here in Germany, and can handle everything from here so that the team can also talk to clients in different time zones. That has never been an issue for us. And actually, being located in Germany was also often a very good marketing instrument, because the company said, Oh, Germany is very well known for for security for privacy for IT security. And that also makes it easier for us.
Andy Halko 28:28
How’d you end up meeting your co founder? I always think that that’s interesting. And I don’t think you mentioned it. You talked about you guys looking at this product. But how did you guys come together because a lot of founders struggle to find that technical lead that can partner up with them.
Andrea Pfundmeier 28:46
We met at university. So I studied law and economics, Robert studied computer science. And at the University here in Oxford, they offered an entrepreneurship weekend where like students could come and learn more about entrepreneurship and like, make a virtual product and build up a virtual company. And we came there and we were the only ones who didn’t have a team ready. So some students signed up already two, three or four others for team and we didn’t have a team. So like we were put together in one team. And then we met each other. And this was also very important because we met each other in kind of, in a similar situation like the real founding situation. Because we had to build up like a virtual company. We had to make decisions of where do we want to invest our virtual money? What kind of market do we want to serve? And we had to make presentation investors meeting for our imaginary products. And it was a very good moment like to see how does the other person react? How does he think and how does it work together? And then, like both of us continued our studies and we didn’t see each other for quite a long time. And then we met up in a restaurant and Oxford couple of years later, and we both were at the end of our studies, and I was asking, Robert, yes, Robert so what are you planning to do now after you finished your studies? And he was, yeah, I want to start a company. And I was like, oh, okay, I don’t have any job offers yet. And if you like, I can come and be your co founder. And this is how it ended up. So it was like, very, yeah, like very quick and easy. And then we said, Okay, let’s start and try to give our best, we had a different product idea in the beginning. And for this first idea, we developed BOXCRYPTOR , because for this very first idea, which we then never followed, again, we wanted to store files in Dropbox. And then we needed the encryption. And only a couple of weeks after, like we said, we want to be founders, we had the idea for BOXCRYPTOR . And then everything went after the other.
Andy Halko 30:52
So you had another business concept before this, though, and why did that not, you know, end up being the focus?
Andrea Pfundmeier 31:02
So what we what so we knew we want to start a company. But the thing was, we didn’t have a good idea to start a company. So we said, what could be there in our direct environment? What could be maybe a good startup idea. And as we were students back then, we got a lot of discounts in companies when we showed our student ID. And we said, Okay, well, as a student, it’s annoying every time to send your student ID to your I don’t know, telephone company or to your fitness studio. So your other sets, you always have to send them your student ID. And on the other hand, the companies always have to check the ID, is this ID related to the correct person is the student ID valid? And in this process, we wanted to make this process easier. So we wanted to collect the student IDs, check them, are they valid? Is it connected to the right person, and then give the company’s information Hey, yes, this person is a student, and he or she can get a discount. Basically, maybe there might be a market for such an idea. But of course, what are the kind of companies who have like a need for such a product, these are not the companies who receive 10 student IDs to check per month, but there’s other companies will receive like 10,000 off of student IDs and where it’s like a big, big deal. I don’t know, like Amazon offering student discounts or student offers, they would have been like, maybe a potential customer. And we were to students like 23 and 26, from a university from Oxford. And when we wanted to talk to big companies like nobodies isn’t. And then we said, okay, then we might need investors to build the product. And when we talked to investors about this issue, one of the first questions always was privacy. Because like, we got documents, we had to check them like name, date, birth date, and everything, which is like sensitive data. And they always ask us, so how do we how do you make sure that this data is protected? And then we said, I, you know, what, we have developed our own encryption software. And we use this to encrypt everything. And then they were like, add on talk about the student ID think, tell me more about BOXCRYPTOR . And so we need Okay, yes. The first idea might not be such a good one. Let’s focus on BOXCRYPTOR .
Andy Halko 33:29
It’s always interesting to hear the you know, path not taken.
Andrea Pfundmeier 33:33
Yes, definitely. And the good thing was that, because we had BOXCRYPTOR , it was also very easy to give up the first year. I know, I know, a lot of customers who like continue to follow one idea because they say it’s my idea and it has to work out in sometimes it never works out. So this is also a learning that we had, like, don’t follow the road, if it doesn’t work out at all. And if you have other options, and so we said, Come on, let’s forget the first idea and only focus on the things that might have a bigger potential.
Tony Zayas 34:11
So really interesting history with you. And Robert, the co founding of this. You mentioned earlier, you know, mission and vision. How did the two of you come up with that joint mission and vision? And how has it changed over the years? And what are some of the things that have stayed consistent?
Andrea Pfundmeier 34:31
So one thing that has stayed consistent definitely is our wish to offer privacy to all users. So this is also one of the reasons why we still have a basic free version available, because we are convinced that privacy and data protection is like basic human rights that everybody should have in times of big data and everything is trackable and available online. And that everybody has like a certain part of data information that he or she wants to be protected. And of course, the kind of part of the data, what it is, is different for every person, there are people who say, Oh, I don’t very, I’d love to have a backup of all my photos online, and that’s valuable. On the other hand, there are people like, for example, me who say, I don’t want to put my children’s photos online, and I encrypt all the pictures of my children, because they can decide by themselves if they’re old enough if they want to publish anything online. And also for our company clients, that companies who say, Oh, I don’t worry about cloud storage, I put everything in there. But I need additional encryption on HR data, for example. And this is, this depends on what kind of threats do you see, what’s your valuable data. And we are sure that everybody, every person, every company has some very basic, or like, a part of their data, which needs to be protected. And we want to offer a solution for them. This is one part of the vision. And the other part is also related with the fact that you’re a technical and a non technical founder. So I’ve studied law and economics. And I know, like a lot of lawyers, I know people who did not study computer science. And I know how they use tools, how they use emails, what they know about data privacy. And it’s always funny that when I see that people who are studying law, they never talk about how to secure emails, for example, like you sign hundreds of NDAs and say, yes, yes, protection protection, and then you send an email with a business plan. So what kind of protection is it? And when I talk to these people, it’s always like this, say, Yes, I would love to encrypt things or make things secure. But I don’t know how to use it, it’s too complicated. And this is also the second part of our mission, we want to make complex security solutions, easy to use, because we want everybody to be able to use it. And especially people who are not familiar with the with the IT environment. So out to our clients. So we have clients, lawyers, we have a lot of medical personal, like dentists who of course, they are maybe not very familiar with it encryption solution, but to say they have their patients data they want to encrypted. And they want to make sure that they have a product which they can use without having their own IT department without having their own IT consultants, which is like really easy to use. And there, I think it’s very good that I was one of the founders of the company, as I’m not that technical. Of course, I understand a lot. And by now I guess I’m more on the technical side than everything else. But I have this view and know what people think and how they behave when they are not used to software product. And 10 years ago, when you looked at the encryption market, and what kind of encryption solutions were out there. There were a lot of good products, but they had a website, where, for example, my father would never download anything. Like the web, of course, the products were secure. But the website, they didn’t look like a fancy and valuable product, it looked like I don’t know, I’m downloading something that destroys my computer. And this was also something that we wanted to solve, to have a product that everybody also wants to download, and wants to give it a try without hesitating and wondering, oh, I’m very, if I install it and download, everything will crash, and I will never be able to access my data again. So this was also very important. And I think it’s also part of the success of our company, because we’re not developing a product from developers for developers, but we bringing out a product which can be used by everybody.
Tony Zayas 38:54
How did you address that? Because I think that’s a very valid concern, people who have you know, some hesitancy towards, you know, downloading or installing new type of technology? How did you address that and get past that.
Andrea Pfundmeier 39:11
So for one thing, I think wording is also very important as like when we, when the software code, for example is written and the user interface is finished. Like we always give it a check, we always check it like what kind of wording is in there. That’s a person who has never installed the product before understand what it is about. Today, like we have explanation videos to explain how to use the software, we have a good documentation where everything is documented, documented, and of course for the for the users who need additional help. We have a very good support team who can assist. But I think like this check from a person who did not develop it and who’s not that technical is often very, very important. And in the early days, I just Did it it was the Andrea test. And I tested everything that went out to clients. And if I said I don’t understand it, when I first clicked through it, then we had to rebuild it. And today we have our teams, for example, the marketing team who checks it also with having our customers in mind. And especially like the customers who have no IT background, who are not part of the IT administration team, who are actually like the end users for using the product. And this became also more important during the last years, because in the beginning, we had this early adopters and the early adopters, they are used to having a product that does not work out really well, where they have issues figuring out how to work it, but but they are used to it, and they still love the product. And then you have the users who are not the early adopters anymore, who are maybe, like got the product recommended, and they want to try it out. And they give it like two minutes. And if they don’t understand it within two minutes, then they drop it. So that’s also very important to have to have a product that can be easily understood within a couple of minutes. Because I can say by myself, I don’t invest like one hour to understand how a product works. I install it and if it if I don’t, understand how it works within five minutes, then I don’t want to use it anymore. And today, we also have enterprises and large companies who use the product. And then the actual end user never made the decision for the product. So they gathered from the IT department that IT department says okay, now you’re using BOXCRYPTOR and they have to use it. And this is like even the most difficult users because they didn’t make an active decision for it. They have to use it now. And still, we also have to make them happy. And this is also in the on the product roadmap, the development, a very big topic for us to make the software easily to be used by everybody.
Andy Halko 41:58
You know, one of the things that you used spoke of that caught my attention was kind of your business mindset and your co founders technical mindset. And I’m interested to hear how important do you think it is that, that you have a co founder and someone that thinks differently and maybe has a different background? Versus someone that maybe is either all technical and trying to do it themselves or all business and doing it themselves and hiring out other people? How important do you think that co founder relationship is?
Andrea Pfundmeier 42:32
I think co founder is very, very important. So for us. For us, I think it’s a big part of our success, while we could develop the company so far, because of the diverse founding team of the two people. So for one, of course, in the beginning, two people can do more than one person can do. So when you have two founders, two people can work day and night to develop the company and the product. With other co founder you have to do everything by yourself. And also during the years. There were so many situations where it’s always good to have another person with a different view. So still today, we have some issues where we like check each other emails and say, Well, I don’t know, I’m not sure can I write it like that doesn’t have the right effect. And these are very often topics where you wouldn’t want to involve like an employee, for example. And in the beginning, when there are these up and downs, where it’s like, often very difficult. The co founder is the person who understands like the situation as it is, of course, I have friends and I can talk to my friends, but they don’t have. For me, I don’t have many friends who have started a company, they have different, they have often a very different view on the things than a founder should have. So for example, a lot of issues you have is with your team, you have people who are not performing very well. And maybe sometimes you need to fire people. And when I talk to my friends who are all like on the employee side, they see things differently. When I tell them, I have a person who doesn’t perform and what can I do to push them and make out the most of them? And they’re like, well, what kind of boss are you I wouldn’t like to have a boss like that. And of course, it’s a different mindset. And a co founder is always the person who understands it and who’s in the same seat. And I’m convinced, if you have two views on a thing, in the end, things will be better. Of course, we also have discussions where we sometimes say well, if I can decide by myself, I know this way to do and then no discussion. But in the end with the discussions in a different views. The end result is in 99% always a better result than if one of us would have decided by ourselves. So also on the product side I’m involved all the time in product decisions, and I can give my feedback. And of course, we have internally the rule, everybody in the end can decide by himself. So my co founder, Robert, you can ask me stuff, I can give you my feedback. But I don’t expect him to 100% to what, what, what is included in my feedback. So if I say, I don’t like this feature, he doesn’t have to drop it. But what happens is, I give him a feedback. And this starts a process in his mind, and he starts to think about it and sees it from a different side. And in the end, most times, the end result is always better, all. And yeah. And it’s good to have a person with you in the same room, when times are hard. We also had a time where cash was an issue where we said, Oh, my God, we don’t know what will happen in two or three or four weeks. And it’s always good to know, like, you’re not alone, not alone. And you have somebody else who’s behind you next to you, and to push things together.
Andy Halko 46:00
Yeah, I’m kind of continuing on that. One thing that I’ve asked a number of founders is, what’s the mental, emotional, you know, a roller coaster? Or what’s your approach to that? Because only a business can be up and down? And, you know, how do you look at the emotional side of having to deal with the things that you do, and in founding a company, both the highs and the lows.
Andrea Pfundmeier 46:29
So it’s definitely a roller coaster. In the very beginning, we like took this roller coaster completely. So for example, we got a call from in the very beginning, like, half a year after we started, we got a call from a big enterprise who said, Oh, interested in your product, please send us a quote, like 10 years later, I know like a quote is nothing and has no value. Like basically, back then we were like, oh my god, biggest client, yes, Party Party Party. And four weeks later, when you’re like, whenever you’ve tried the product, and it was only one person who asked for it, and nobody’s interested and like the low was then very, very deep. In what did we do like to handle these emotions? I think by time, like we we didn’t have this very, very high emotions and very deep emotions anymore. So like, we learned that, of course, it’s good when good things happened. But we didn’t let us like completely be overwhelmed by emotions. Of course, sometimes this is bad, because we don’t celebrate successes a lot. Like today, it’s often Oh, we got a big deal closed, cool, what’s next on the agenda, and like, we don’t really celebrate a lot. That’s also very bad. So I think we should celebrate more often. But I think it’s an attitude which helped us especially during the first years, like not to be too happy about anything that happens because we always know, tomorrow, something very bad can happen, an important employee he could leave or whatever could happen. And so we learned like to regulate our emotions.
Tony Zayas 48:11
Andrea, what’s in store for the next 12 months for BOXCRYPTOR .
Andrea Pfundmeier 48:18
So for BOXCRYPTOR , we will continue to improve it. Of course, there are always feature requests from clients that we have. During the last years we focus more and more on on our enterprise clients, for example of single sign on support. And I think this will also be a big part of our work within the next 12 months. To focus even more on this enterprise clients, what kind of features do they need? How do we reach them in marketing? What can we do to convince them to use the product? Then we grew our team. During this pandemic time, we added five new people to our team. And this is also not the part like to fully include them in the team to set up the new processes the new team, and this will be part of the next 12 months. But also to be honest, like on the product side. Of course, we have a very, very long feature list with staff who comes up but the concrete planning for us internally is always like three to six months. This is a time where we really have like concrete ideas and plans what to do next. And the rest can still can still change.
Tony Zayas 49:35
Great. Andrea tell our audience where they can find out more about BOXCRYPTOR as well as you if they want to follow learn more try it out.
Andrea Pfundmeier 49:48
Sure, so you can find us on BOXCRYPTOR .com. We also have a Twitter and Instagram accounts where you can follow us I can definitely recommend our blog on our website where we cover a topic works ranging from starting a company, of course, a lot of security and privacy issues, but also topics like how to build up a diverse team. These issues can be read up in our blog, we have a newsletter where you can sign up on our website. And of course, as mentioned before, we have a basic free version, which every personal user can use. And I am very happy to let you know that we are often also offering our product for free for startups who are not VC funded. So if you have a startup and want to make sure that your data, your business plan, whatever is encrypted, just reach out to us. And we had to set up privacy for that. It’s great.
Andy Halko 50:44
Yeah, the the kind of wrap up question that I always want to ask every founder is, if you were able to go back in time, right before you started the business and have coffee with yourself, what advice would you give?
Andrea Pfundmeier 50:58
I think my advice would be worry less. In the beginning, we worried about so many things which never happened, which never happened the way we expected them to happen, but which like blocked us in our mind, and I would definitely give me the recommendation, worry less and just start doing get on doing our doing, and no matter what happens, you will find a solution for it.
Tony Zayas 51:24
It’s great. It’s awesome. Well, thank you so much, Andrea Pfundmeier from BOXCRYPTOR . They want to go check it out, sign up for a free account. Thank you so much for joining us here today, Andrea, and thank you to our audience for tuning in. We will see you again next time.
Andrea Pfundmeier 51:42
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Andy Halko 51:44