Hi, we wanted to kick off this blog with a quick story of who we are, why we decided to start a company, and of course, talk a little bit about our product.
The idea came to us in a dream. No wait. We should save that version for the Hollywood movie. The story is really quite simple. We built Meldium because we felt that dealing with users, accounts & logins on the Web was too complicated.
If you check out our short bios, you'll see that we've worked in giant tech companies as well as tiny startups. One of our favorite things when we worked in smaller organizations was the advantage of relying on "consumer-class" cloud-based apps to get our job done. We laughed at our friends who were stuck using antiquated internal tools when there were beautiful hosted products available that didn't require help from IT (we didn't even have an IT department).
All this flexibility came with a cost: each of us maintained spreadsheets with dozens of passwords and figuring out how to get people in and out of every tool was a headache. We decided to solve this problem for other small & medium businesses out there that don't have the time to automate the process.
We incorporated at the end of May 2012, found a small office in Pioneer Square and started working full-time in June.
Getting to v1
Once we got past the high of finding an office, we set out to build out an alpha version of our idea so we could start engaging with users & companies to learn more about the space. We were lucky to have a network of friends and colleagues in the Seattle technology scene that were kind enough to introduce to some businesses around town that fit our "theoretical" target profile.
We decided to approach the problem from the perspective of administrators, albeit not necessarily people with a background in IT. We started talking to people who are in charge of on-boarding new employees, trying to understand how they deal with giving people access to all the tools they need. We asked questions like what software tools did they use and how did they track people once they were in the company.
We quickly discovered that everyone codifies and maintains a process for helping people get up & running on their first day. While this process was often digitized (in wikis and spreadsheets), it wasn't automated. Thus, we started fleshing out a user experience in which companies could select the tools they use (e.g. Box, Google, and Salesforce) and we would provide a central view of all the people in each tool. Adding (or removing) someone would now just be one click instead of walking through a checklist and going to each web app in turn.
So that's how we started. Fast-forward a few months and we're now iterating on the product, which is in open Beta, with a few customers. If you're curious, just head to meldium.com and try it out!
Going forward, we want to broaden our dialogue with the world at large. We live in an exciting era of computing in which cloud, social media, and mobile are driving enormous changes in the way we conduct our work. People have dubbed this trend "consumerization of IT," which highlights that the apps and devices we use in our personal lives will increasingly appear in our work lives as well. This shift (some might say revolution) empowers everyone at the edge of the business whether it's the ability to purchase and deploy software or collaborating from anywhere.
When these kinds of shifts occur, there's an explosion of new ideas & products. Along with these come a lot of uncertainty and chaos as we don't yet know what the end state will be. We hope that over time Meldium will help people "tame" this chaos without enforcing rigid mentality of the old approach. Along the way, we want to participate in the conversation about all these changes in our industry. Of course, there are a few topics that are particularly interesting to us:
- Identity. This is the cornerstone of the Web and a key aspect of what we try to manage for our users. It's a space that is clearly in flux, with old & new technologies including SAML, OAuth, OpenID, and even BrowserID (check out this crazy list). What's going to happen? Will we see a world in which people no longer have to remember so many passwords? What about the advent of consumer services (i.e. Facebook & GitHub) that cross over into work in which identity is preserved? We think about this last one as "Bring Your Own ID" akin to the BYOD craze.
- SaaS & APIs. We love cloud-based software. It's inevitable that most if not all infrastructure will be abstracted from individual companies in favor of easy to use software interfaces that just get the job done. One of the key developments in this space is the advent of APIs. It's almost the ante required to put up a web service nowadays and it makes it possible for apps like Meldium to exist.
Of course, we'll also talk about building our product and our company, so you can look forward to technical discussions about how build the experiences in Meldium.
See you out there!
Boris, Brad, and Anton (aka BBA)