A Q&A with Hojoki co-founder and CEO Martin Böhringer. The company is based in Germany and was founded in March of this year.
SUB: Please describe what Hojoki is, and the value proposition you bring to users of cloud-based apps.
Böhringer: Hojoki makes all your cloud apps work as one. Connect with Google Docs, Dropbox, Delicious and all the other tools you love. Integrate them into one personalized activity stream. Share your activities with others and get instantly notified of theirs.
People work in lots of separate apps. Currently, there is no way of getting all the team on the same page. This leads to problems like; nobody knowing what’s going on. Coordination costs are very high. Search risks are very high. Discussions around work items are fragmented.
Hojoki provides an inbox for your cloud. We build a Facebook-like activity stream including all your connected apps. This creates a complete overview on what’s going on in your projects. Plus, you can comment, like or write micro-blogging postings.
SUB: Who is your target market?
Böhringer: We target everyone who uses one or more cloud apps to work with others. The number of people using Google Docs, Dropbox and Delicious is vast and it continues to rise. We focus especially on the following sub-markets: developers, knowledge workers, creative types and business.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
SUB: What differentiates Hojoki from the competition?
Böhringer: Hojoki provides rich activity streams and creates a knowledge base for all your apps. You can split your stream into multiple projects and work with others. That’s something none of the others seem to have. All of them are still in beta, though.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Böhringer: The company was established in March 2011 with the development starting a few months before. We pretty much bootstrapped the first months with earnings from our previous jobs and other sources of funding. After we had the initial prototype and received lots of great feedback, we decided to take the next step and looked for funding. We found it very quickly with Kizoo Technology Ventures, who recently invested in us.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for Hojoki? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Böhringer: All of us are power users of cloud apps in the first place and suffer from all of them being separated. Also, some of us were involved in some microblogging projects with tools like Yammer and Status.net which showed us how streams work to connect teams. We suddenly came up with the idea that those streams could not only be fed by people typing messages, but also by cloud apps posting their activities. The basic model here is Facebook. Hojoki is like a Facebook fed by cloud app activities.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Böhringer: Doing what Hojoki does is quite a technical challenge. There was not really the possibility to just code a quick prototype to make user tests or convince investors. We had to come up with a sophisticated solution at first which was a great challenge for us.
SUB: You recently raised $620K in seed funding—how do you plan to use the funds?
Böhringer: We will use it to keep up the speed of development. Our goal is to add three new integrations each month. To meet this goal we hired additional engineers. Also, Adam, our new community manager, joined us to take care of our users. But basically, we want to keep the team at a small size to stay agile.
SUB: Why was this a particularly good time to raise outside funding?
Böhringer: The time is perfect for a tool like Hojoki, with cloud productivity apps becoming standard more and more. We just have to launch it now and the funding made this possible. Furthermore, we see competitors showing up and the funding helps us to keep our edge.
SUB: Do you plan to raise additional funding in the near future?
Böhringer: We’ll have to see about that.
SUB: What are your goals for Hojoki over the next year or so?
Böhringer: Hojoki to integrate more than 20 apps, have several hundreds of thousands of users and help them each day to rock their cloud apps.
Hojoki – www.hojoki.com