This is part of a series of startup stories about founders who are building customer solutions — and their dreams — on Microsoft stack technologies acquired through the Microsoft BizSpark program. This story comes from Sanjeev Arora, founder and CEO of Tabillo. You can follow him and Tabillo on Twitter @tabilloinc, and through Tabillo’s blog.
Building a Company on Content Chaos
For several years, I owned a consulting firm that specialized in enterprise project management for medium-to-large sized firms. My company didn’t do much business with small-to-midsize firms, because those firms often found that collaboration technology provided more functionality than they needed, and required more of an investment than they were comfortable making.
It seemed clear to me that there had to be a way to tap this market segment. With my experience in enterprise solutions, I knew that smaller companies, too, could benefit from a collaboration tool, especially one that could help spur their growth. Smaller organizations suffered from what I call “content chaos,” where information is spread across several folders, computers, or web applications. These companies saw the advantages of secure team collaboration and the centralization of information as ways to address content chaos—but those features had to be part of a solution that was simple, highly customizable, and inexpensive.
What if I could come up with a solution that met this combination of needs? Would my target market like this idea as much as I did? I validated an early version of the solution with a local government agency of 25 employees. It came looking for an affordable collaboration solution to manage its contacts, documents, research and projects, all in a single application. With the power of our underlying Microsoft architecture, ability to import Microsoft Excel data, and customizable user interface, we won their business. That’s how Tabillo, which I built from the ground up in 2011, came to market.
Fast forward to 2013, Tabillo is now the only collaboration tool for that agency, which has thousands of records and more than 100GB of searchable files, all centrally organized. Tabillo now also has clients in fields including engineering, legal, business consulting, non-profit, and professional associations. They collaborate on both data and files from a single interface, using our out-of-the-box, customizable apps (e.g., CRM, HR, Projects, marketing, board management, deal room, extranet), or apps that they can create themselves, without coding.
We’re succeeding, in part, because we are able to offer simplicity and affordability in an enterprise-level solution. Among the keys to that simplicity and affordability are the Windows Azure cloud-computing platform and Microsoft BizSpark program for startups. The combination of Windows Azure and BizSpark is tremendous. Our Windows Azure benefits serve as a great runway to help get us where we need to go. Our Windows Azure fees, for example, are about 20 to 30 percent less than what they’d be without BizSpark.
We use Windows Azure Virtual Machines for maximum flexibility, and geo-replicated Blob Storage for the business continuity we need to satisfy both our customers and ourselves. We differentiate ourselves from competitors by offering customers dedicated private clouds as well as multi-tenanted Tabillo deployments. Beyond features, just being able to use the Microsoft name has been a great help to us, opening doors and setting customers at ease.