On Our Radar helps you keep track of tech companies with promising futures.

This week we look at AeroFS, an enterprise file, sync and share (EFSS) and collaboration provider which some compare to Dropbox with more security.

AeroFS is deployed on the customer’s infrastructure, "allowing the company to keep control of its data and enabling employees to securely collaborate both inside and outside the organization," the company explained.

Last August AeroFS debuted Amium, which company officials called the first content-centric collaboration solution. It allows users to engage in group discussions, content creation and development activities in one collaborative environment.

Year founded: 2010

Founder: Yuri Sagalov, CEO

Founder’s background: Sagalov was born in Russia, emigrating with his parents to Israel as a child and then again to Canada when he was a teen. 

Both times, the family built a new life from the ground up, based on the conviction that “you have to make it yourself because you can’t expect anyone to give you anything.” 

He graduated from the University of Toronto and went onto graduate school, where, with a classmate, he co-developed the technology that became AeroFS. Sagalov decided to leave his graduate degree program and applied his experience to building a company.

Yuri Sagalov
Yuri Sagalov

Headquartered in: Palo Alto, Calif.

Number of employees: 11 to 50

Number of customers: AeroFS claims hundreds of customers across a variety of sectors from finance, professional services, media, telecom and automotive

Awards/recognition: Cool Vendor in Cool Vendors in Content Management, 2016 report by Gartner, Inc. Hot Vendor in Mobile Content Management for 2016, by Aragon Research

When was your latest major platform release, and what did it entail? We released the Amium platform in August 2016. Launching Amium, a collaboration solution for work teams, required a significant pivot in the company’s product and sales focus.

The initial AeroFS EFSS product was premises-based. Amium is cloud-based. Sales were originally focused on a well-defined universe of IT professionals, but had to change to selling to customers without knowing who they are.

Whereas initial customers were focused on data security, Amium customers want to save time and increase productivity. The AeroFS premises solution was known, with quantifiable benefits. The company didn’t have visibility into how customers use the new Amium solution, and had to quickly figure out how to engage with these customers and align the prospecting, sales, marketing and customer support organizations accordingly.

And selling to customers online required a different, less technical skillset than the traditional IT sale. Translating product usage patterns into meaningful data also required deploying a new analytics solution. The launch of Amium resulted in significant changes to our operational tactics and implementation of new monitoring and course correction techniques to assess progress as we go.

AeroFS office in Palo Alto Calif
AeroFS office in Palo Alto, Calif.

What's the one thing you have no one else does in this space? The hosted Amium solution is the only content-centric collaboration solution for work teams. It unifies file sharing, file synchronization, chat, messaging and associated collaboration activities in one place and in real time to make collaboration much more efficient.

In addition to the Microsoft Office Online integration, Amium also includes integrations with many other popular workplace tools, including HelloSign, Stripe, GitHub, PagerDuty, JIRA and more.

What is your total funding from investors to date? $15.5 million in four rounds from 14 investors, including Avalon Ventures, NHN Investment, Andreessen Horowitz and Y Combinator.

What can we expect in terms of innovation in 2017? In 2017, Amium will deliver several innovations around the following themes:

External collaboration: The most requested capability by prospects and customers is the ability to easily collaborate with external parties such as contractors, vendors and partners. In the first quarter of 2017, Amium will provide the ability to invite external users and teams to collaborate on files within a team’s Amium instance, improving collaboration with external graphic designers, PR firms, technical partners and more.

Improving the signal-to-noise ratio: One of the biggest complaints about today’s chat applications such as Slack and HipChat is the amount of “noise” created by the apps. Amium will not only improve its already granular notification system, but will also introduce automated adaptive notifications based on each user’s actions.

More unique integrations: Due to Amium’s file collaboration focus, there are some unique integrations and workflows that will be released in 2017, including signing contracts and paying invoices directly from Amium. Many of these integrations will tie into the external collaboration theme to make it even easier to work with outside contractors and vendors. An emphasis on innovation around information retrieval will make it easier to find things (files, conversations, mentions and more).

Some call for the death of EFSS. How do you respond? AeroFS certainly saw this coming more than 18 months ago when we began building Amium. We've always felt that EFSS is a piece of a broader puzzle, which is team and enterprise collaboration. We expect to see consolidation of EFSS companies by larger vendors in 2017, as well as the outright failure of some of the less-agile competitors.

Customer Take: Landed

Jonathan Asmis, co-founder of Landed, a residential real estate investment company based in San Francisco, said Landed needed a way to manage workflow at each stage of a deal and to track collaboration for auditing and compliance purposes.

For instance, the company’s partners collaborate on pre-purchase agreements, option agreements, deeds of trust, offering letters, term sheets, private placement letters and other documents. Each document is specific to a certain deal, and each deal requires between five to 10 different documents.

“We looked for a business-class collaboration tool to add more structure to our team’s process,” said Asmis. “We tried Amium online and actually started using it within minutes.”

The company says that it got the flexibility, security and structure it needs with Amium. It incorporates team messaging and conversations with project files and saves and tracks every change.

“Amium lets us put structure around our conversations and documents,” said Asmis. “When we have real drafts to work on, we put them in Amium."

(Make sure to read our first On Our Radar profile of 2017 featuring chat provider Kezmo.)