15 8 / 2011
Dropdo becomes Fileslap, a paid service
Summary: Dropdo has been renamed to Fileslap, redesigned, and relaunched as a paid service ($7 per month with a free trial). This post delves into the reasoning behind these changes.
Earlier today, we sent this email to all registered Dropdo users to tell them that things are a-changing around here.
You’re receiving this email because you signed up for Dropdo.
There have been some big changes around here. First and foremost, Dropdo has been redesigned, relaunched, and renamed. Dropdo is now Fileslap (http://fileslap.com)! All of your files have been transferred over and your login information will stay the same, so head on over to http://fileslap.com and click “login in” to get started.
Dropdo was a free beta, and with the launch of Fileslap, we’re ready to turn it into a serious professional service. It’ll be completely free for the next 3 weeks for you (as a thank you for being an early user of Dropdo and taking a chance on us), and then you will have to make the choice to start paying $7 per month to keep your current service, or downgrade to the free plan, which will be limited to 1MB per file and 20 total files. You’ll get an email to remind you in a couple weeks.
We can’t thank you enough for your support so far and we hope that you’ll stick with us. If you have any questions or want to talk about this announcement, just reply to this message.
Thanks! Mike from Fileslap
So why the changes? Well, let’s go back to the start.
Dropdo, like most startups, started out of necessity. I was tired of downloading files and waiting for Open Office to open Word docs, or having to boot up a Windows VM to glance at a Photoshop file someone sent, or sending code as email attachments, etc. As a web developer, I tend to try to find ways to solve problems using the web, so that turned into Dropdo, a website that lets people view your files on the web, thus avoding the download.
Dropdo was launched as a completely free service. At first, it was just a pet project that I enjoyed using, and then people actually started using it, and then it was suddenly getting lots of use and I found myself buying a bigger hosting plan to support it.
I’ve been told time and time again that “Dropdo” is a crappy name. People say that it’s not memorable, it sounds too close to Dropbox, or it just sounds stupid, and after awhile, I began to agree. So I started the hunt for a new name, finally settling on Fileslap.
I set out to rename Dropdo to Fileslap throughout the site, but then got the feeling that I was missing out on an opportunity by renaming the service without doing any other changes. If there’s ever a good time to make big changes to something, it’s when you change the name, so I decided to start brainstorming.
Money, money, money
Around this time, I got the bill for the past month of file hosting at Amazon S3. Up to this point, it had been steadily increasing, but had never topped $30/month. All of a sudden, it jumped to much more than that, due to a booming month of uploading for Dropdo (we were getting close to 30,000 files).
As much as I really wanted to be giving people a useful free service just for the fun of it (trust me, I really really did, and that’s why I held out for so many months despite the rising costs), this just wasn’t sustainable.
The many options
I decided if the site is to stick around, it needs to start paying for itself, so I looked at my options for making or saving money:
- Start using ads throughout the site, which I also didn’t want to do.
- Start putting aggressive limits of things (smaller file uploads, start deleting files older than X weeks, etc.) to save on S3 costs. I avoided this one so as to not lessen the usefuleness of the service.
- Look for an investor. I’ve had a couple offers but just don’t want to go that route. For now I prefer being a single founder.
- Start charging people to use it. This seems like the most logical way to go.
So I ran with it, and the result is Fileslap.
Calculating the cost
From talking with power users and a bit of estimation, I guessed that I could probably pull in about 25 paying members in the first month (out of all 1900 currently registered users and the hundreds of active users who weren’t registered). My goal was to get somewhere around $175 in the first month so that it would hopefully match the S3 cost for that month (i.e., I’d break even).
Therefore, 175 / 25 = 7, so I went with $7 per month, as it seems like a reasonable amount (GitHub’s smallest plan is $7 per month, Dropbox’s smallest paid plan is $9.99 per month, etc.)
So I launched Fileslap, sent the email out to all of Dropdo’s users, started redirecting Dropdo to Fileslap, and waiting for the responses to pour in.
I expected a bit of a backlash, since people never like hearing that something which was once free now costs money, and as predicted, a few people have told me they’re pretty upset about it. I can understand that, and I’m far from happy about it myself, but it’s really what had to be done to keep the service going. I hope some of you will stick around.
So that’s the story of the changes. If you have any questions, as always, feel free to shoot us an email at email@example.com, or just post it in the comments.