Cloud storage services are dime a dozen, and yet there are very few that have managed to survive in the era of cloud giants like Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox. Yet, Switzerland-based pCloud has managed to carve a niche for itself with its lifetime accounts, focus on data security, and more. In the latest edition of SaaS Talks, we managed to chat with pCloud’s founder and CEO Tunio Zafer to understand the company’s evolution, and how it stands out from the competition, among other things.

PS: the interview has been edited for the sake of brevity.

1) What insights led you to launch pCloud?

pCloud was born out of a concern for privacy and security in the cloud storage space. Back in 2013, we identified the need for a more robust offering that didn’t limit usability. Our team aimed at designing a platform that built upon existing tools in the market, but had data security at its core. Personal data is highly sought-after these days and we know that data stored in the cloud had long been a way for tech giants to wrongfully make a profit.

We understand what consumers and businesses are looking for – a way to keep files safe, the ability to move and share important documents, and for personal data to not be sold or used for targeted ads – and this is still at the heart of pCloud.

2) Could you share how pCloud has evolved since its inception in 2013?

We started as a simple web platform, and we gradually joined the Desktop platforms for Windows, macOS, and Linux as well as the mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone (we have discontinued the WP app support, since OS was officially discontinued in 2017).

Our pCloud for Business was introduced in 2015. And in 2017, we had started our winning product for the individual accounts – the Lifetime plan, which had a significant positive impact on our database.

Most recently, we have introduced our latest product – pCloud Family, which allows splitting 2TB between 5 users for a Lifetime payment, which gets sufficient storage for the whole family for a very reasonable price.

3) How many customers do you have now?

We have over 14 million users at the moment, which is gradually growing each year. Several years ago, we were steadily growing with a million new users per year, but since the start of the pandemic, we have grown by 70% over the last year and even more this year.

4) How are you able to focus on both individual users and businesses at the same time?

Our pricing model is split three ways – individual, family, and business. These plans are available to suit all different types of users. Additionally, our individual plan gives customers the option to sign up for a monthly, annual or lifetime account, with competitive costs and whole range of features, including our market-leading backup function.

For business accounts, users can choose between a monthly or yearly subscription. Each account includes access to the pCloud Crypto folder, to ensure the highest level of security, for businesses’ most sensitive data. Designed to help control and optimize workflow, pCloud Business allows teams to collaborate within the platform and organizational tools to manage user permissions. With multiple access points, we’ve implemented intelligent monitoring tools to record all account activity, so business leaders can rest assured knowing that both current and older files are safe and easily-accessible in pCloud.

pCloud Family is used both by individuals and small companies, as it allows up to five users.

We have different teams dedicated to each of the products and we can focus on each type of user separately.

5) Considering that the cloud storage space has giants like Google and Dropbox, how does pCloud stand out from the rivals?

Our main point of difference from the US giants is our commitment to keeping our users’ data private, safe and secure, without risk of data sharing.

We have our own European data centre, to give customers the choice over where their data is held, the USA or Europe. As we know, regulation around data security is stricter in the EU, so we appreciate many of our customers may prefer to hold their data in the European cloud. Also, our client-side encryption means only encrypted files might be uploaded to our servers and plain text files don’t leave our customers’ device.

Giving our customers options is important to us, we allow users to decide where they wish to keep their files and if they require the strictest security. As mentioned earlier, we have a Crypto folder that gives an extra level of protection, something we have found is especially popular with business users.

6) Could you shed a light on your marketing strategy?

We split our strategy in two. First, we need to acquire new leads – users that will test the basic and free pCloud account and would get reassurance by experiencing the platform. Using the product is key – we offer a great product but the only way to know it is to try it.

Then, when the users are already confident with the product, we offer it at the correct price, at the correct time.

7) How has the ongoing pandemic affected pCloud – both in terms of users of your software and the business itself?

As previously mentioned, the ongoing situation is affecting us in a very positive way, both in the number of subscribed users and on a business level. Around the globe, every person’s personal and professional life was impacted. The lockdown made people and organizations rethink how they could keep working without the physical office.

Therefore, video-conferencing and secure file sharing services received more attention, and we took our share in it. As a comparison to previous years, our pCloud for Business has had over 100 percent growth.

8) Any new things that you are working on? Or any acquisition on the cards to grow faster?

A new introduction in our service – the online file modification, which we’re looking at introducing this year. This would include implementing the Online File Office, allowing users to simultaneously modify documents in the web platform.

As for our growing faster model – with our steady growth, we do not feel the need to rush and overgrow our potential.

9) What are your favourite SaaS software (apart from pCloud) out there?

We love the products of Atlassian – Jira, and Confluence. We also really loved seeing the rise of Zoom, as we use it daily and the crush of our Marketing Team is DeepL, the best software translation ever.