10 years after – lessons from a small & profitable storage vendor

by Robin Harris on Thursday, 4 July, 2013

If I were starting a storage company there are several things I’d do:

  • Start up in an area where there was lots of storage engineering and marketing expertise.
  • Get substantial financing once I had my first customers.
  • Be aggressive about marketing the company.

But my friends at Object Matrix did the opposite of all these things and, partly as a result, are now celebrating their 10th anniversary as an independent storage company.

Independence Day
You probably haven’t heard about Object Matrix – unless you are a regular reader of StorageMojo. But they were one of the very first companies to adopt object storage for video archiving.

10 years ago almost no one knew about object storage and even fewer believed it had a future. But it’s widespread adoption by hyperscale companies has changed the perception of objects. Now OM looks smart.

Rare Welsh Bits
Object Matrix is probably the only Welsh storage company. Based in Cardiff, they are small – about 20 people – and focused on video archiving.

With $1.5 million of venture funding and hundreds of thousands more in sweat equity, OM has built a profitable business in a highly defensible niche. Their customers include Sony, Universal, NBC, BBC, and other large producers of video content.

I asked Jonathan Morgan, CEO and cofounder of Object Matrix, what lessons they’ve learned.

  • Focus. The company started out to archive video on Final Cut Pro Server. While Final Cut Pro server is no more they kept their focus on video and that has paid off.
  • Workflow. The key to the company’s success is not object storage but the fact that they have integrated object storage into a smooth commercial workflow. Sell the workflow – not the technology.
  • Be local. Their UK location has made it easier to get into the London HQs of big media companies. Early on focused only the UK and the video market – then moved onto Europe With customers in Belgium, Norway, UK France, Brazil. The US is up next.

OM started as a software-only company, but discovered that people want appliances – tin-wrapped software – that are fully vendor supported. So that’s what they do.

The StorageMojo take
In the last 10 years dozens of storage companies have flamed out. OM’s longevity is a model for non-US entrepreneurs.

Their continued independence makes them a natural for a July 4th post. But lest anyone wonder, they aren’t allergic to being acquired.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. A happy July 4th to my fellow Americans. And yes, 10 Years After is a favorite of mine.

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