Q&A with Dropcam co-founder and CEO Greg Duffy about bringing an easy-to-use Wi-Fi video monitoring service to the cloud

By Editor October 12, 2011

Dropcam_logoDropcam offers a cloud-based Wi-Fi based video monitoring service that integrates with almost any device. The San Francisco–based company was founded in 2009 and recently closed a $5.8 million Series A funding round.

SUB: Please explain what Dropcam is, and the value proposition you offer.

Duffy: Dropcam is the maker of Wi-Fi video cameras and intelligent cloud-based video services that capture life’s moments. We make it easy for users to check in on the things they care about from anywhere, anytime on any device, including computers, smartphones and tablets.

Dropcam’s Wi-Fi video cameras are easy to set up and the Dropcam DVR service seamlessly integrates into your life: iPhone, laptop, tablet, you name it. Our service allows users to keep a watchful eye on what they care about—which could be different for everyone whether they are keeping an eye on the living room, a new baby, pets, garage, second home, etc.

The Dropcam DVR service also handles motion detection, audio detection, and related email and mobile alerts.

SUB: How does the technology behind Dropcam work?

Duffy: Dropcam is a cloud-based video platform that allows users to have 24/7 video of anything they care about, receive alerts about events and store up to 30 days of video all through Dropcam’s cloud based infrastructure. This means users do not need to worry about having any sort of local storage that users have to manage themselves and that could fill up.

Your Dropcam video is encrypted before it leaves the camera. Dropcam uses the same data encryption methods as banks—so you know that it’s safe and secure.

SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?

Duffy: Companies like Panasonic and Logitech offer home video monitoring solutions.

SUB: What do you offer that differentiates Dropcam from your competitors?

Duffy: Easiest platform for cloud video monitoring: the video from your Dropcam camera is stored in the cloud—which means easy access from anywhere and no worry about losing video or filling up space on your hard drive. And you never have to worry about your footage being lost or stolen.
Live, 24/7 continuous streaming and recording: because Dropcam’s cameras are AC powered you don’t have to worry about batteries dying and missing any important video. The camera is always on and always streaming and recording up to 30 days of minute-to-minute video—based on the DVR plan you have. When a camera is battery-powered it’s limited to recording only short clips—usually only about 5 minutes per day.

Secure sharing of video feeds: your video is encrypted to ensure your privacy, only those invited to view are able to. Many competitors do not offer this level of security.

SUB: What was the inspiration behind Dropcam?

Duffy: After seeing my dad get frustrated while setting up IP cameras around his home, I thought, ‘there has to be an easier way to do this.’ Since it seemed like lots of people would want to keep an eye on things while they were away, I was surprised to find that there was not—you had to be a tech wizard with a lot of spare time to get anything to work. So I quickly began developing a more consumer-friendly and approachable method for remote video monitoring with Aamir Virani, a skilled software engineer I had worked with at Xobni. The goal was to create something simple, affordable and user friendly, while not compromising video quality. Very early on, we pivoted as a company about three times helping us figure out exactly what our customers wanted. What we offer today is the product of the knowledge gained in this process. For instance, our cloud DVR service was the result of a pivot from live-only monitoring. Now, the DVR is really where our product benefits users the most, and we are continually improving it.

SUB: When was the company founded, and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?

Duffy: Dropcam was founded in 2009. The first step in establishing Dropcam was to find the ideal founding partner. While working at Xobni, I met Aamir and found the perfect fit for Dropcam’s co-founder and COO. This was the first major step in establishing Dropcam.

SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building Dropcam?

Duffy: We have been confident in how we have gone about building and developing Dropcam. If we could do it again, we would build the product and hire people first. Building up the team as soon as possible is key as a startup. All the people we want to work with are here now, but we wish we pushed for them earlier. Lesson learned: as you find good people, bring them in as fast and early as possible.

SUB: You just raised $5.8 million in Series A funding—how do you plan to use the funds?

Duffy: This funding round will be used to build on Dropcam’s current cloud-based video platform and expand its software engineering team in San Francisco.

SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise new funding?

Duffy: We found it interesting to be a hardware and service startup (DaaS/SaaS) raising money in Silicon Valley where for the past several years the buzz is about social software. Our funding was led by Accel Partners, which is best known for its recent investments in social companies like Groupon and Facebook. The Angels who backed us often invest in software, but they took a bet on Dropcam, so they saw something that had promise.

SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?

Duffy: Our focus now is on making Dropcam even better for our present and future customers and hiring software engineers who love coding and want to make something people use daily. Our Series A round provides an ample runway for us.

SUB: Where do you hope to see Dropcam in a year from now?

Duffy: We hope to continue providing the highest quality, easiest to use Wi-Fi video camera on the market to our users. This has been our mission from day one and we will continue to adapt and develop our offering to continue to meet and exceed this objective.

Dropcam – www.dropcam.com