Twenty years at Silicon Valley startups gave Brian Jenkins most of what he needed to know to start a software business. His own frustration with storing and finding content online gave him the inspiration.
Jenkins, a Duke University graduate, moved his family back to North Carolina in August 2013 so he could launch AnyCloud, a cloud-based platform that aggregates all the sites and platforms people use to store and share content in one easily-accessible and searchable place.
He's currently based at Groundwork Labs, where he's both building his business and mentoring other young companies.
So far, he's launched a beta test for a photo-only service with more than 1,000 users. It already integrates with 10 different services, including Gmail, Facebook, Flickr and Dropbox, giving a user access to all platforms and the ability to find content stored or shared with a person. Users can then share and move content between the various platforms using AnyCloud. The NC IDEA grant funds will let Jenkins hire front and back-end developers—at least two or three immediately—to expand the MVP to include all forms of content, and launch the product later this year.
"Almost everyone we've talked to immediately understands the problem they have and what we're doing to fix it," he says.
Though his vision hasn't yet been realized, that (and the large beta test) is what convinced the NC IDEA judges, says Idea Fund Partners' John Cambier.
"There's an intriguing initial response from the MVP," he says. "The main thing they will test with the grant money is whether they can get adoption from early users."