From Paris With Love, Infinit to Reinvent P2P Sharing
“Culture is probably the most important thing in a startup, and it starts with the people you hire.”
– Baptiste Fradin, COO & Co-founder at Infinit
We all remember Napster, the company that undoubtedly made peer-to-peer sharing popular and is classified as the first generation of file sharing systems anywhere in the world at such a mass level. Sure, they were hit with thousands of cease and desist letters by every music studio in the country and were later shutdown for copyright infringement, but they are responsible for sparking a global sharing enlightenment. Today, users are only limited by what they decide to share.
The newest P2P sharing network, Infinit, is trying make file sharing even better and their users can share much more than just music.
Childhood friends, Baptiste Fradin and Julien Quintard, founded Infinit in 2012 while participating in the Parisian incubator, Le Camping. Since then, Infinit has raised a total of $2.3 million in funding and includes investors such as Alven Capital, 360 Capital Partners, Alive Ideas and several French angel investors. Although still based in Paris, Infinit is currently attending the Techstars New York City accelerator program. CG Magazine met up with co-founder, Baptiste Fradin, to learn more about their growing enterprise and get some valuable insights from some really cool tech entrepreneurs.
CG: Baptiste, what exactly is Infinit and where does this story begin?
Baptiste: Infinit is a free desktop application that enables users to share files of unlimited size, publicly and privately from one person to another without passing through the cloud. Basically, it’s an all-in-one solution for sharing files. Our network is open to anyone, but we are targeting creative professionals because they tend to share the most.
We founded the company two years ago in France because we saw issues in peer-to-peer sharing. Traditional file sharing was slow. Not only that, but they had ridiculous size limitations and file type restrictions. We built our own application and did away with those.
CG: Who uses Infinit?
Baptiste: Our application is built for anyone who wants to share their stuff with other people across the World Wide Web. We have, however, seen significant adoption by creative people in film, design and photography. But, whether you’re sharing high definition film footage with your post-production team or vacation photos with your family, Infinit is a quick and reliable solution to deliver your files.
CG: Does that mean you’re going head-to-head with Dropbox?
Baptiste: Not at the moment. We are more complementary. Dropbox operates more like a backup and all files are stored in the cloud. Infinit operates more as peer-to-peer sharing. When you simply need to send a file, we are for that. People can use us both at the same time. Store in Dropbox. Send with Infinit.
CG: Tell us about the biggest challenges you faced when starting out?
Baptiste: Well, the need for a better peer-to-peer sharing application was obvious. So we had to build the technology fast and we had to hire an amazing team to do that. That was our first big challenge – hiring talented people and then making them involve in love with our vision. I think this is common for many startups. We learned that you have to first make friends and then make them trust your story. Once we had a product, our second big challenge was making VCs fall in love with our vision so we could hire even more people.
CG: Ok, so once you had an amazing team, did you still have struggles?
Baptiste: Oh, yeah. Once we had a team, we needed people to execute. That’s sometimes a struggle. We also had some team members leave the company because they weren’t sharing our vision. You need to find people who don’t mind spending part of their life working on your product, sometimes without salary.
It’s asking a lot – to work long hours with little pay. Your team spends days, nights and weekends working with you. So, almost all people need to be co-founders. This is why it’s so important to hire the right people and create a supporting culture. I f you can’t do that, then you won’t survive.
CG: The Infinit culture seems fun, yet laid back. Was that intentional?
Baptiste: Any culture develops organically. We are providing the business and the vision, and the team is what shapes the culture. In the end, that’s why people join and that’s why they stay. So you have to always be sure that you’re creating an environment that people really enjoy. If the team is happy, then they work better and the company stands a much greater chance of achieving success.
Another key aspect of culture is really about marketing. We want to make the user feel that we are human – that we’re not just a great tool, but that we have a personality and a team of cool people that are down to earth.
CG: How has your move to The Big Apple affected the team?
Baptiste: So far, it’s been good. Our user base is worldwide but it was important for us to start to build a network in the US because the ecosystem is much more developed there. Plus, Techstars New York invested in our product and gave us so much access and exposure.
New York was a financial cost, especially moving the entire team, but it was necessary for the future of Infinit. We know so much more about our product and the resources available to us. In some respects, it doesn’t matter where we go. Either way our users can reach us, but it’s important to be close to those we are developing relationships with. When we are ready to raise another round, we will have relationships established here.
CG: Besides raising more money, what are your plans for the future?
Baptiste: We are first, very excited and confident about our product. We are set to go far and want to become a reference for other peer-to-peer sharing applications, like Skype. It’s still early and we are still a startup, which means we are still at that unpredictable stage, but partnerships are happening and things are looking up.
CG: You are 2 years old. That’s a lifetime for some startups, but you say it’s still early?
Baptiste: Yes, it’s still early. Infinit is a fairly new technology so our vision will take more years to truly realize. We are not making an iPhone app. We are making something truly useful that has potential to go mainstream.
CG: It sounds like you have big plans. Any advice for other startups out there?
Baptiste: Try to do impossible things and compete against companies who are already huge. Make them nervous. Make them scared. You can do with lots of PR and lots of marketing, sure, but if you truly solve a problem with your product, then they will take notice. Product is huge. Once you solve the problem and improve lives, then you can have spotlight.
CG: One more thing. What’s with the yellow chicken?
Baptiste: Oh yeah. That’s the mascot of Infinit’s support team.