Deskdoo – browser-based operating system from Poland
The idea of an operating system operated entirely in the browser is coming to fruition thanks to Polish start-up Deskdoo. It is not, however, what you might think it is based merely on the description. Learn about it and why it may greatly improve you workday from Deskdoo's CEO Adam Adamczyk
For at least the last several weeks Deskdoo has managed to create quite a buzz online. Hardly surprising for a start-up that claims to have developed the first operating system that works completely in the browser. But the topic requires a lot more explanation than this catchy slogan. For Deskdoo came up with a very specific solution dedicated to specific groups of people – small- and mid-sized companies and start-ups.
We're talking to Adam Adamczyk, CEO and co-founder of Deskdoo, about what it actually is and aspires to be in the future, how it makes money and how it plans to make it big.
Deskdoo to realize a years-long dream
In the past many tried to develop a browser-based operating system. This would allow it to take full advantage of the convenience and security storing files in the cloud provides. A system like this could also be accessed from just about any device out there at the same time being independent from those devices. It wasn't until the core browser HTML technology evolved into its current 5th version that such attempts had any chance of succeeding.
Dawid Krawczykiewicz, one of Deskdoo's co-founders, was so curious about the concept of operating system in the browser that he worked on it individually for nearly four years. At this point he decided to search for some business opportunities to turn his part time hobby into an actual start-up. This is how back in 2014 he met Adam Adamczyk, successful Polish start-up entrepreneur (nowyinteres.pl among others), who liked the project a whole lot:
“He showed me his project and wondered what can be done to further develop it as a standalone business venture. I found it really promising and decided to invest in it in a seed-like acquisition. We founded a company with shares split fifty-fifty. Aside of money, I provided my business know-how and a team of five people and vowed to support its growth all the way” - says Adam Adamczyk for web.gov.pl.
What is (and isn't) Deskdoo?
Deskdoo is a browser-based software which looks a lot like Windows desktops and serves as a shell through which you can use many different programs such as Google Docs or Trello as well as Deskdoo's original programs, including a CRM system. What makes Deskdoo worthwhile?
“Deskdoo's benefits can be divided into three categories. The first one is all about sharing resources. Deskdoo makes it easy to share all kinds of documents among users and assign them proper rights (from read only to full access). The second centers around collaboration. With Deskdoo, you can create a number of remote desktops – for different employees or for special projects and grant access to them according to your preferences. The third is a choice of applications dedicated to speeding up your work. Those include Microsoft Office-compatible office software, original CRM software or invoicing program. There are also a lot of apps specific to particular departments and skills of employees” – explains Adamczyk.
Deskdoo uses the operating system analogy for its product as it feels like one to the end user. On Deskdoo, however, you don't install any software, nor do you worry about making updates or drivers. It works out of the box. Deskdoo is dedicated to small- and mid-sized companies and makes remote collaborative work amazingly simple as several people can easily work on one desktop environment on many files at the same time. It's a perfect fit for just about any small company where remote browser desktops may replace classic desktop workflow often compromised by low quality of hardware. Not to mention, several remote desktops are easier to manage than laptops and PCs. It's also more secure to store your data in the cloud as this way it's independent of the hardware and you can access it from any device. For start-up companies it makes it much easier to work effectively without one common space, benefiting from the talent of remote freelances.
“With Deskdoo, we target small- and mid-sized businesses that have a lot of remote workers. This is how we work on everyday basis. I got an office in Warsaw, the whole sales team of mine works remotely in a variety of cities. I personally believe that people should be able to work in the places they like the most. Imagine if you could allow all of your people to work remotely like this without any loss of efficiency. So this is an operating system that is largely beneficial for companies whose workforce is to a lesser or greater extent geographically dispersed”– continues Adamczyk.
Deskdoo's capabilities are remarkable, but not endless. Deskdoo won't replace your desktop OS (at least for now) and at this point it really has a very specific, but numerous target base. Before you start your journey with Deskdoo you should know that...
“With Deskdoo, you can't use programs that require substantial computing power, e.g. video games. It's a domain of desktop computers equipped with powerful graphic cards. The same is true for sophisticated graphic software even though Deskdoo features a decent cloud-based graphic editor.”
What baffles many about Deskdoo is how this innovative projects, which allows individuals to work simultaneously on one desktop and aggregate their cloud services, at the same time tries to recreate this classical era Windows desktop in the browser. As Deskdoo is still very much a work in progress, Deskdoo team still considers different ways of evolution for the user interface and overall user experience:
“UI is a topic that is being constantly talked about at Deskdoo. When we first released Deskdoo, we just couldn't wait to see how people would react to an interface like this that emulates the desktop experience. The biggest advantage of this approach is that users easily and instinctively understand how to get the most out of Deskdoo. Sometimes they actually think that it is Windows that powers the system, while this is obviously not the case at all. Some say - “OK, that looks like Windows 95 and it's 2015. You are 20 years behind the times.” We will change the interface, but it's not our first priority. What we tried to do with our early adopters was to explain the concept of Deskdoo as clearly and easily as it was possible. We wanted to avoid any distortions of the reception our general idea was to receive. Again, the interface will change but it's difficult to say at this point what it will evolve into” – says Deskdoo's CEO.
Change your workflow with Deskdoo – use case
“A mid-sized company that hires a few dozens of employees and freelancer is a perfect use scenario for Deskdoo. The owner creates desktops for managers of each department. The desktops serve as a multi direction communication platform for all users. It also works as a document repository which allows all users to integrate their private cloud storage (Google Drive or DropBox). This solves the problem of storing and sharing company documents. Deskdoo also makes it possible to access all cloud storage without typing the password thanks to the One Login – All Resources feature.”
“The same goes for small companies that work closely with their clients on every project. The company can generate a new desktop for each project. An access to this desktop can be granted to the employees, contractors and/or clients with different levels of privileges. All the basic features are the same – explains Adamczyk potential use cases for Deskdoo.”
Start-up success takes effort and... money
At this point, Deskdoo has about one thousand clients around the world that use it in the 'try before you buy' model. Deskdoo experimented with the freemium model, but eventually opted for a per user pricing. You create an account and a 30 day free trail of the full version begins. Once you complete the trial, you decide whether you are interested in continuing and make a purchase.
Deskdoo is currently in the process of searching additional funding abroad to accelerate growth.
“Soon I'm going to the U.S., to Silicon Valley, in the search of new investors. It's not easy to find a good one in Poland. I believe that in Poland it's hardly possible to find a VC investor that would put its faith in a unique pioneer solution. They often focus on copycat solutions, trying to cash in on projects that worked in the biggest markets. I don't think that's a good approach. Such solutions are cheaper to introduce as they no longer require a lot of R&D, but at the same time it's close to impossible to find an investor that would provide your start-up with anything beyond $100-200 thousand. To achieve our goal of 50 thousand users worldwide in the next year, we will require at least $500 thousand.”
To get scaling right
The additional funding is needed to further research the needs of small- and mid-sized companies to pick just the right mix of software, polish user experience and establish Deskdoo's presence on new markets. As for expansion direction, Adamczyk has a clear goal in mind.
“From my perspective the U.S. is by far the best market. We're planning to set up a company in the U.S. That's one of the messages I'm bringing to the investors. Deskdoo wants to follow suit of the most successful Polish companies such as CD Projekt RED (The Witcher games) that made their business global from the start.”
“We don't focus on benefits in the first year. We dedicate our funds to researching the user and searching scalable ways to grow. I modify the strategy every three months. We analyze all what's going on well and badly.”
Adamczyk believes that targeting new markets will require a lot more than just launching a new language version.
“In come countries certain apps are a lot more popular than in others. For example, filling in timesheets is popular only in some countries – those that pay more attention to formalities. We definitely need to perform a thorough analysis of markets we are interested in, such as Saudi Arabia or Japan that, what's interesting, have already brought us quite a lot of customers. Customers from Japan seem to be interested in different features than those from Europe or the U.S. Deskdoo is doing well, but a lot more preparation has to be made to truly scale it globally” – says Deskdoo's CEO.
Cloud-based solutions are taking over the world. Deskdoo stands out even among this dense crowd as one of the first serious attempts to bring such a major part of desktop experience to the cloud. Will it succeed or not is yet to be determined, but it's hard to deny that Deskdoo knows what it wants. Perhaps it will join the ranks of globally successful start-ups that originated from Poland.
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