With 917% revenue growth over the last 5 years, Backblaze has just secured itself the 128th spot on the list of the fastest growing technology companies in the United States. The journey has been exciting but could have come to an abrupt end at various times. Let me share a bit about how we grew and what we’ve learned.
In 2007, Jeanine had a computer crash and begged Brian for help recovering her files. She had no backup. He could not help.
Five of us talked about this experience and realized that 100% of the photos, movies, and personal and work documents were going digital. But with fewer than 10% of people backing up their computers, eventually all of these digital items would vaporize. We quit our jobs and started Backblaze to solve the impending disaster.
While we had previously raised VC funding for startups, we decided to start Backblaze differently, committing to each other that we would work for 1 year without pay, and to put a bit of money into the business. This would effectively be the seed round.
After five years of steady growth, we decided to raise our first VC round.
From the outside it seems like a simple, beautiful exponential growth curve up and to the right. From the inside, the challenges along the way don’t fit onto a single page. Probably not into a book either. Paul Graham has a fantastic chart of this experience he calls the “Startup Curve”.
I thought of many issues we might have: not getting the product/market fit right, not being able to build the product, not being able to attract customers, running out of cash. And some of these bumps, such as finding that many of the expected ways to find customers don’t work, we actually did run into.