Andy McLoughlin – Huddle 1 of 2

“As a founder you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.” Huddle is a leader in cloud collaboration and content management for the enterprise.

Matthew: Hi, this is Matthew Wise with Founderly.com. We empower entrepreneurs to have voice and share their story with the world, enabling others to learn about building products and starting companies. So I’m very excited today because I’m here with Andy McLoughlin, who is the founder of Huddle. Huddle helps businesses connect, share, and work better together online. With that said, Andy, we’d love for you to give our audience a brief bio.
Andy: Sure. So hello, my name is Andy McLoughlin, I’m cofounder and VP of Strategy of Huddle. As you can tell from the accent I’m a Brit, but I’m based here in San Francisco, having been here for about a year or so, and I look after all of our corporate development, business development, and act as GM for the US office, which is kind of interesting given I’m kind of awful at HR, but it’s kind of a cross that you bear. Before doing Huddle I was a consultant working in London and before that I was a designer/developer, so I’ve kind of run the whole gamut of kind of jobs you might need to do inside a start-up.
Matthew: Excellent. So, can you tell us, what makes Huddle unique, who’s it for, and why are you so passionate about it?
Andy: So, Huddle is an HYPERLINK “http://www.founderly.com/tag/online-collaboration/” \o “Posts tagged with so, you know, we’re positioning as the leading cloud collaboration, content management sort of business. We’re currently used by about 85,000 businesses globally across 180 countries, available in multiple languages, and I think what we see as the unique point is that it gives you all the tools that you need to collaborate in one place. I mean, there are a ton of great source for file sharing or HYPERLINK “http://www.founderly.com/tag/project-management/” \o “Posts tagged with or online meetings but nothing that kind of really brings them cohesively together in one place. Why am I passionate? I guess because working together, you know, when we started this project, working together was still so damn hard, you know, it was… everything was still around email and telephone or email and file or ftp, you know, and I thought there must be a better way than this, and, you know, we’re kind of getting along that way on the journey now, which is exciting.
Matthew: What are some of the technology and market trends that currently exist, and where do you see things developing in the future for your space?
Andy: So, we think a lot about the consumerization of IT, you know, how business systems are becoming a) friendlier and b) easier to purchase, you know, so you look at something like (unintelligible – 0:02:16.9) you know, great tool, started off as, effectively, Twitter for (unintelligible – 0:02:19.9) and how do you talk about the concept? I think five or six years ago I’m sure you would have been laughed out of the room. What that means for us is, you know, how can we make it easier for businesses to buy a tool like Huddle without necessarily having to initially engage IT. You know, what we’re seeing is that business users will have a need, they’ll buy (unintelligible – 0:02:37.6) and then IT will say, actually, you know, this is kind of cool, come to us and say can you help us get our arms around this (unintelligible – 0:02:41.2) you know, help us control this, help us to integrate it with our own systems. And I think the second piece is that we’ve seen the great wave of Web applications and I think what we’re seeing now is that people are expecting more than that; they want their apps to be available not only on the Web but also on mobile and also integrated into the apps they use every day, so for our users that means integration with their desktop, integration into Word itself, PowerPoint, Outlook, and integration into their (unintelligible – 0:03:11.3) apps like SharePoints.
Matthew: So, we’ve covered your background in (unintelligible – 0:03:16.7) we’d like to dig into the details of the Huddle story, so can you tell us what inspired you to start Huddle—was there an aha! moment, or did you do research to identify the opportunity?
Andy: It was, I think it was more of a, kind of leading up to an aha (unintelligible – 0:03:33.6) finally kind of blossomed in my mind. My background as a designer meant that, you know, I was kind of passionate about building something that looked great, you know, and worked well, and then getting kind of dragged in to the more business side of consulting, you know, helping businesses to kind of manage their information better, so one of the jobs I was doing was putting in these big, dirty, information management systems, like workflow, document management, business process, and what I saw was that only a tiny fraction, maybe like five percent of these systems, were ever really used actively by employees, so I was thinking, you know, surely there must be a way that we… that I could, you know, build something like this which would be delivered in the cloud, priced in a way which a company of any size, you know, it wouldn’t have to be a big bank or insurance company, it could be, you know, like a five-man consultancy, so a company of any size could buy it and roll it out and deliver it, and I think with the advent of broadband, the advent of kind of cheaper computing power in the cloud, it made, you know, what we’re doing, you know, really… really very valuable.
Matthew: Who are your cofounders and how did you meet, and what qualities were you looking for in a cofounder, and how’d you know that they would be a good fit?
Andy: So all right, yes, well, to start, Alistair Mitchell is my cofounder, he’s based in London, he’s our CEO. Alistair is, I’d say, the yin to my yang, you know, he is incredibly operational, very kind of strategic thinker, great at getting stuff done, whereas I’ve always kind of been kinda slightly head in the clouds, thinking, “Ooh, wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this,” and you know and then thinking and getting almost kind of flip side, becoming extremely neurotic about the button sizes and font colors. So we met when I first moved to London and I moved into a house with a friend of mine and the guy that’d been living in that room just before me was a guy named Alistair Mitchell, so, you know, we kind of started hanging out, we—me and some friends, Alistair—would go and play badminton once a week and of course we told everybody else we were playing squash, because, you know, badminton is not the most manly of sports, and so we just kind of got to know each other from that. I think one night, probably in 2006, I was talking to my friend Tom and I was kind of bitching about how I was sort of bored at my job and, you know, I was looking for a new challenge and he said, “Well, you should talk to Alistair, he’s feeling the same way. You guys always got on and you’re both passionate about the Web, so, you know, why don’t you go out and have a chat about it?” So we, a few months later we finally got, you know, got round to meeting up, we were in London, we, as Brits do, we went for a few pints of beer and curry for the (unintelligible – 0:06:04.4) and really that’s kind of where the idea for Huddle was born from, you know, this idea of work sucks and how can we build a tool which makes working together easier.
Matthew: From idea to product launch, how long did it take, and when did you guys actually launch?
Andy: So, I mean, idea, it’s kind of hard to say because, you know, it had sort of been twinkling on in the back of my mind for a while, but I left my job in November 2006, to kind of do this full time, as did Alistair, and we launched, I would say probably April or May the next year, so, you know, it was a pretty short, I’d say a long gestation period and then but, you know, very quickly getting to market once we were kind of prepared to, you know, push that button and go.
Matthew: Are there any unique metrics or social proof about Huddle that you’d like to share with our audience?
Andy: I think probably the things that we’re proudest of are, you know, the number of businesses that are using Huddle, you know, to, you know, to collaborate, to share, so 85,000 businesses globally, which is a terrific number, you know, and we count amongst those, you know, tiny companies, you know, consultancies, all those (unintelligible – 0:07:07.1) or Disney, huge organizations where we’ve seen, I think we’ve seen (unintelligible – 0:07:13.6) across UK government, so, you know, these are our proofs which I think not only kind of send shivers down my spine, but when you’re talking to potential customers it makes them sort of listen as well, you know, this isn’t any longer a business of just two people in a bedroom, this is actually a real company with real revenues and real clients, that, you know, depend on our product and that’s incredibly exciting./AT/sg/

 
 

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