Top 25 European Cloud Computing Rising Stars: Huddle

One can hardly say that Alastair Mitchell and Andy McLoughlin, co-founders of Huddle, entered an underdeveloped and non-competitive market when they started Huddle.com in 2006. The cloud-based platform competes with collaboration and project management solutions like those offered by 37signals and Cisco, while products like Central Desktop, Sosius, Ximdesk, LiquidPlanner, and Project Manager   are directly competing with the Huddle’s platform.

Huddle, like all major project management products, can be used online, on mobile devices and on desktops. In addition, the platform supports a number of businesses social networks and can be accessed via Microsoft Office applications.

The main challenge to developers of collaboration software and project management software products is the fast development of mobile devices used by business people to access and manage their databases, documents and run their businesses remotely. Huddle offers various options to access and manage corporate projects and information and via numerous mobile applications developed in-house. The company offers applications for iPhone, iPad, and BlackBerry while desktop applications include add-ins and plug-ins for Microsoft Office, Xobni, Chrome Web Store, LinkedIn, Xing, and Ning.

It is not unusual for a cloud-based platform to provide support for various devices, office suits and online services but Huddle offers an impressive set of options to connect to different web-based services using mobile devices.

The company’s software allows users to store their work on the Huddle’s servers while backup procedures are also conducted in the Huddle’s platform. The platform allows sharing of documents and features search function, which is a must-have functionality in each and every project management software. The profile of each member of a team created shows his/her area of expertise, contact details and work schedule enabling team leaders and managers to assign tasks to the right person who is available at the moment.

The web-based software tracks versions and revisions of documents and features phone and web conferencing, functionality lacking in some other products of the same caliber. The whiteboard function allows virtual brainstorming sessions, the company claims.

Interestingly, Huddle offers functionality to add unlimited number of users to a workspace which can collaborate using online whiteboards, calendars and free online MS Word and Excel via secured connection within the entire site. Another interesting functionality, in addition to email alerts related to projects, is the ability to track project progress and changes via RSS.

The search function offers full text search functionality and searches within both titles, descriptions and text in a single workspace or across all user’s workspaces. Huddle enables users to upload multiple files to its data centers supporting various file formats including MS Office docs, PDF, images, video and others. The company has made a step further in organizing its support department, offering support to users via Twitter, in addition to traditional methods like email, ticketing and classic online support.

The emergence of the cloud computing concept urged investors to re-think their investment priorities in the IT sector and companies like Huddle are increasingly in the spotlight. For good or bad, cloud computing companies and clod services providers quickly managed to become a new Silicon Valley myth attracting interest of venture capital firms, angel investors and even individual investors.

Huddle secured a Series A funding in October 2007 with Eden Ventures pouring USD4 million in the company. Eden Ventures, together with Matrix Partners, led a Series B funding in May 2010 and Huddle received USD10.2 million in new financing. Therefore, the company is not lacking financial resources to develop its product and services unlike many other start-ups in the cloud computing sector.

The company boasts customers like HTC, Kia Motors, AKQA, and Fujitsu which is a good indicator of Huddle’s ability to attract corporate clients that are able to spend larger budgets on cloud-based services. However, many peer companies are also expanding aggressively, offering free or discounted services to small and medium businesses, for example. Huddle offers a good product but the company faces fierce competition which will determine its corporate behavior and businesses model in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, Huddle already demonstrated its ability to survive in a highly competitive environment.

By Kiril Kirilov

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