From winning TechCrunch Disrupt to raising a total of $18.3M in funding. I invited Tomer Dvir, the CEO and Co-Founder of Soluto as he talks me through his entrepreneurial journey so far, especially how the idea for Soluto came about.
Tomer Dvir is the CEO and Co-Founder of Soluto, a web service that helps people to make their own PC and other people’s PCs better.
The full interview is below.
Hi Tomer, Thanks for doing this interview with me. Can you give you some background information about yourself, were you the entrepreneurial type growing up?
When I was 7 years old, I got two rabbits as a gift. Quickly I found out that rabbits multiply every few weeks. That was my first business. I started programming at the age of 9. As a teenager I worked for various companies as a programmer and helped people with their computers, while also working on my own projects – such as a computerized home and various other projects involving hardware and software working together.
At the age of 18 I joined the army for 3 years, serving the air force in an R&D unit. The day I left the army I started a small software company with a friend from high-school. We loved programming but we were pretty bad at marketing ourselves – so we failed miserably. Then I joined a small start-up that developed a very cool medication dispensing system, where I grew to lead development as the company’s CTO.
After 5 years I decided it was time to move on and start something huge that would affect hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Tell me how the idea for Soluto came about?
The real Soluto story started back when I was a teenager, when I began helping people in my hometown with their computers. At first it was just to help people and make them happier, but quickly I realized that I could make people all over the world happier by helping them enjoy their technology more. A seed was planted and the idea for Soluto grew, to help anyone anywhere get more from their computers. In the beginning of 2008, together with Ishay Green, Soluto was born.
What were you doing before you started the company?
Before co-founding Soluto, I was CTO at MDG Medical, where I led the software and hardware development of medication dispensing products for hospitals. Before that I co-founded InetB, a web applications software provider.
What is Soluto?
Soluto helps you get more out of your PC. It’s a web-based service that lets you manage your PCs and help your friends, family and colleagues make their PCs better too, so that everyone will be a little happier with the technologies they use every day.
What are you trying to solve with Soluto?
We all use technology in our lives every day, in our offices, at home and even in our pockets as we move more and more towards a world of smartphones. Unfortunately many people are not naturally good with technology and this is where Soluto comes in. Our aim is to make everyone happier with the technology they use every day by allowing people to do more with their computer and also providing a simple way for friends, family and colleagues to help each other get more from technology.
Soluto currently works for PCs and we’re planning to support tablets, Macs and smartphones in the near future.
Talk me through the first few months of running the business? What would you say was the hardest part of starting the business?
When people think of fun-to-use, easy technology – PCs aren’t the first things that come to mind. We knew that people use PCs every day and that they are an amazing technology that can make people’s lives better and easier. We also knew that most people don’t know what to do with them or how they can get more out of their PC. We knew this, but the challenge was to convince investors and the market that there was a need for Soluto and that we could change the way people think about, feel towards, and use their PCs.
The hardest part of starting the business was taking an idea (that sounded great) and turning it into a real product (that proved itself) so others could actually see that we were really onto something. It was a lot of hard work, conviction, and not a lot of sleep or money. But our dedication and belief in what we were doing got us to where we are now.
How were you able to fund the business?
To date, Soluto has raised a total of $18.3M in three rounds. These were led by Index Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Giza Venture Capital, and Proxima Ventures and also Chris Dixon, Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund, Eric Schmidt. For a complete list, see our Investors page.
How has your market changed in the past few years? How has your business changed to keep pace?
Over the last year it’s become clear that many of our users are supporting other people, either at work or as ‘family CTOs,’ helping parents, neighbors, even grandma with their computers. We realized that finding a way to efficiently help multiple people with their PCs was the real challenge for our power users. We decided that we could make it easier if power users could remotely help PCs from a web dashboard. That’s how the Soluto web-based service came to be.
Soluto, which was once a software application that helped people with their own PCs, has always been focused on helping people get more from technology. Now, our business has taken the next step in making technology better for everyone, by creating the web-based service that can help people not only get more out of their own PC but also help others make their PCs better too.
Would you say the initial idea for the company, or that your business model has changed since starting the company?
Soluto has always been focused on helping people get more from technology so the initial idea has remained the same throughout, how we can best do this is adapting as we learn from our users.
What would you say has been some of the most crucial that you've done to build the company to this level now?
We believe that technology should be easy, clear but also Fun. One of the most crucial things we’ve done is focus on our user experience and design. Soluto has reached the level it’s at now due to our team’s focused dedication to creating an easy-to-use, beautiful, and enjoyable product.
For us it’s crucial that we always find a way to make our service as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. We strive to give people only the information they need, and not overload users with tons of unnecessary technical data.
But in addition to that – we try to make any experience with Soluto as fun as possible. Our ultimate goal with every design and feature is to get the person who’s using the feature to smile.
Is the business profitable? What is your business model?
Soluto is not profitable yet. Soluto is free for use with up to 5 PCs. Users pay a monthly fee to use Soluto to manage more than 5 PCs.
What’s been your most memorable moment so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
Our most memorable moment was releasing our first public version and winning TechCrunch Disrupt in 2010. It was amazing to have our hard work and vision recognized.
What pieces of advices could you give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Be ready to work hard, and really believe in what you are doing. Be prepared for some disappointments, challenges and unexpected hiccups along the way, but don’t lose sight of your vision and goals.
The start-up and entrepreneurial road is fast-paced and full of unexpected highs and lows, so be ready for anything.
Most importantly - Trust yourself wholly, and believe in your idea. Many people will be non-believers and will tell you that you have no chance. Always listen, but don’t assume someone else knows better than you.
What can we be expecting from you and Soluto in 2012?
You can expect Soluto to continue improving and embarking on new ways to help make technology better for everyone. Moving forward we are working on our PC Genome project. Soluto’s PC Genome project aims to make data about technology freely and publicly available.
Also, Soluto will become available on additional platforms and provide more and more value to everyone’s digital life.