Editor’s note: FileTrek, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, and launched in February 2012, is a provider of mobile content management and tracking solutions. The software gives companies total visibility into all the sharing, syncing and editing of a file, whether it takes place on the desktop or in the cloud. In this interview CEO Dale Quayle discusses the content-tracking solutions market and shares insights for other startups on product development decisions and his perspective on following offered advice.
Sandhill.com: How did your company originate?
Dale Quayle: FileTrek’s solution originated from the creative services industry as a very successful solution for creative professionals to help them manage large projects and collaborate with other artists. It automatically tracked files, users and project relationships. The product won many awards including DigitalArt’s Editor’s Choice and MacWorld Best of Show.
Then something happened.
Organizations in huge numbers began to utilize cloud storage to store and share files and data. At the same time, the rise of the mobile workforce and new digital media channels helped to create a ten-fold growth of data.
We saw that popular file sharing services were making it easy for employees to share and collaborate but were creating a critical problem for IP because these services didn’t provide visibility into what was being stored in the cloud. We viewed that as a collision course between the desires of the mobile workforce who use their iPad, Android, or iPhone to get to their data and share it with other people versus the desires of business to make sure they can securely provide that information to both employees and people outside.
We saw an opportunity to fix this “data sprawl.” So we added file-sharing and collaboration capabilities to our proven tracking and auditing capability. We make CIOs and IT managers very happy because we give them that visibility and sense of control they want, yet we also allow employees to work the way they want.
Sandhill.com: So the tracking of shared files is the differentiator of your product from competitors’ solutions?
Dale Quayle: We like to say that we help companies stay “IP-Aware.” Our main differentiator is definitely our tracking capability, which no other cloud-based file sharing solutions offer. Earlier this month, we released FileTrek for iPad, a management dashboard tool, which lets teams easily track the flow of projects, data, and activity from anywhere.
SandHill.com: Did you make any changes in your product design because of feedback from users/potential customers?
Dale Quayle: We have a few companies that would like to “track everything” not just files that are shared and sync’d. We now offer this option due to customer feedback. I have seen entrepreneurs develop solutions without consulting potential customers. I believe this is a pitfall and startups must be maniacal about assuring that customers love your product and provide vehicles for feedback that assist in continued innovation of the solution.
Sandhill.com: What is the worst advice you received, and did you follow it?
Dale Quayle: Just trust me. A person I knew well offered advice on a topic in which I had a differing view and my instincts told me to go in a different direction. But since the advice came from someone with great experience and enormous success in the area, I followed it. Big mistake. Lesson learned: in the absence of proof, follow your own instincts.
Sandhill.com: What is the best non-business advice you received earlier in your life that you have found helpful in pursuing your entrepreneurial vision for your company?
Dale Quayle: It was from my mother: Work hard but always do what is right no matter the consequences.
Sandhill.com: How did you hire your first employee?
Dale Quayle: It was a friend from a previous company. We worked well together and I trusted him. Easy decision.
Sandhill.com: What was your most worrisome event in the first year of starting up your company?
Dale Quayle: Making payroll.
Sandhill.com: If you could go back and live another business day over again, when would it be? What happened that day?
Dale Quayle: It would be the day a large bank told me they were going to choose another company’s product over mine. The buyer gave me great detail as to why he had made the decision and what aspects of our product needed to be fixed. He agreed to review his recommendations with our engineering team. We fixed everything he mentioned in six months then went back to him. Upon seeing what we had done, he cancelled the other order that had yet to be implemented and bought ours. So the first day we learned about our shortcomings was a good day; when we actually received the order — that was a great day.
Sandhill.com: Who are the advisors and mentors behind your company?
Dale Quayle: The FileTrek Board of Directors is an amazing resource for FileTrek management. The members are proven experts in our market and provide sage advice regarding our product development and company growth.
Sandhill.com: Is there a story behind your company name?
Dale Quayle: We wanted a name that made it obvious what we do — FileTrek — we manage your data journey.
Sandhill.com: What does your company hope to accomplish over the next 12 months?
Dale Quayle: We’re doing some interesting things about security and policy, which will be important for the enterprise. We’re also asking all of our customers to think outside the box — syncing and sharing data is the easy part; figuring out where that data is traveling, and who’s touching it, so that it’s safe and secure is hard. And that’s the piece with which we’re going to excel in providing solutions. Also over the next year we want to educate companies about becoming IP aware and let them know a solution exists that will allow employees to use modern cloud-based file sharing technology with a robust tracking back-end that will be attractive to any IT department or compliance officer.
Dale Quayle is CEO of FileTrek. A 25-year veteran of the enterprise software industry, Dale understands the needs of businesses, and has been helping customers take advantage of innovative new solutions throughout his career. In 2000, he was instrumental in the sale of Trinagy Software to Hewlett Packard. At HP he led the integration efforts of Trinagy and went on to head Mergers and Acquisitions for the HP software division from 2001-2004. Most recently he was president and CEO of Integrien, a California based performance analytics software company that was sold to VMware in 2010. He also serves as chairman of the board of Univa, a high performance computing company.
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor at SandHill.com.