crowdsourcing
Storage Management

Crowdsourcing Innovation: Sam Nagar, CEO, Pixeom, LLC

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour...

ceo-sam-nagar


  Name
: Sam Nagar

  Job title: CEO

  Organisation: Pixeom, LLC

  Location: Mountain View, CA

 

 

Product: Pixeom X1

pixeom-1

What it does & how it works:
It is a personal cloud device that does more than just store/access your files – things like hosting discussion boards and interactive shops.

What makes it special:
Now people have a secure, easy to use, and overall higher value alternative to NAS boxes, personal servers, and most of all, online services built on the foundation of datacenters: treasure troves of personal data used for soliciting subscription fees or selling personal data, and prone to security breaches, downtime, and privacy concerns.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?
I am a former software engineer from Microsoft who founded the company with my sister, Karishma. The initial inspiration came from a conversation we were having about online services. Seeing in the news things like Dropbox getting breached all the time, or Google and Facebook continuing to change their terms of service to better take away our privacy,  we wanted to provide a solution that has all the convenience of these services but brings control and ownership back to consumers and small businesses everywhere.

Why Kickstarter?
Normally, to raise money and bring your vision for a product to life, people traditionally approach angel investors and venture capitalists. With Kickstarter, people pledge money because they believe in your idea. Sure they are ordering something tangible like a book or movie, but they provide a way for you to bring your idea to life without giving up ownership of the idea. That is the beauty of Kickstarter, you get validation from hundreds of backers from all over the world and are able to pursue your idea on your own terms. Even though we are only a few days into our Kickstarter, it has been a truly humbling experience to watch so many people come together and support our idea.

Is crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?
It is both good and bad. On one hand, it provides everyday people the ability to rally support for their truly inventive ideas and get the funds they need to make it happen. On the other hand, many people who create crowdfunding projects may be brilliant dreamers, but correct execution and follow-through of those ideas can be a huge challenge for someone who may not have actually mass produced and shipped a product before, someone who is learning as they go and may end up angering backers. It is a dual-edged sword, but when used correctly, crowdfunding is a powerful alternative that I see becoming the de facto standard for raising money, potentially bypassing venture capitalists and angel investors altogether.

Reactions on KS so far?
So far we have gotten a very positive response. I cannot stress enough what a great feeling it is to see your vision get validated by so many people!

What have you learned from your campaign?
Well, we have learned a lot for sure. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to just be patient. It is a slow process that lasts a month or more, and sometimes people can get caught up in the numbers of a single day, instead of focusing on whether or not we are on track.

There’s been much in the news about backdoor access and hacking that means Cloud providers may not be as secure as first thought – how do you ensure users’ Pixeom stays safe?
Not only do we use AES-256 bit encryption, but we allow the user to customize his or her own encryption keys. So now everyone has their own separate key in a de-centralized network of devices. Even if someone found a way to break into one device, they would have to start all over again to break into the other device. Compare this to other cloud providers who store everyone’s data in one convenient place for hackers, and who make claims that your data is encrypted, but are the very ones who are holding onto your key – the provider employees can decrypt and leak or steal your data at any time.

pixeom-2

You say the Pixeom is a product that is for the benefit of the customer, not for the service providers. How have you done that, and what makes you different from other service providers?
We make money off of device sales, and users store data on their own device…we don’t continue to seek ways to profit off of their data every month. To us, their data is sacred, so we do not store it or touch it in any way. We also give users full control to keep their device private and off the grid if they want, or to have a clear separation between the private and public content, ensuring they are only sharing exactly what they want to.

Pixeom was started with brother and sister co-founders. Does being a family and a business at the same time impact things?
For us, it works very well. We set the right expectations up front, and starting a company together has been something we always wanted to do. I think the fact that we have been planning for this since we were kids, and generally played nice with each other throughout our lives has enabled us to be such a great team together. However, there are plenty of siblings I know who I would not recommend going into business together, it really depends on the individual dynamic of the family members.

Possible business use?
We are also targeting small businesses with this first release. Businesses with small profit margins who would normally not be able to afford a web host, web/app developer, or understand how it all works together. With the click of a button and a low one-time cost, small businesses can now have a digital presence, and can better engage their existing customer base (with our built-in payment processing, inventory management, and CRM features), or they can now reach out to expand their customer base by advertising on our personal exchange network, as well as using other social media sites that we have integrated.

Aims for the future?
Once our Kickstarter is over and we have initial momentum, we are going to work our way up from SMB to enterprise, having a whole range of easy to use and secure solutions that rival the datacenters themselves. Our intellectual property is in software that scales easily and it is just a matter of pre-configuring hardware platforms to match the amount of people these businesses expect to visit or use their box.

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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