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Summary:

The German secure server outfit only set out to raise €500,000, but it ended up with 6 times that amount. Since investors get a cut of future profits, and as Protonet has more than enough to internationalize now, it was time to press pause.

Protonet

The Hamburg-based secure server firm Protonet made history earlier this month when it raised $1 million through crowdfunding in a mere 89 minutes, smashing the Veronica Mars movie’s 4-hour record for hitting the same milestone. Now Protonet has closed its crowdfunding round at €3 million ($4.1 million).

That’s not bad for a funding round that originally sought €500,000, then upped the limit to €1.5 million once the Protonet team realized people really liked the idea of its Maya server for small teams that want to collaborate securely. Then it raised the limit again but, according to business development chief Philipp Baumgaertel, “obviously at some point we had to say this is enough money for us to last the next 12 months.”

“We were getting lots of calls and emails from hundreds of people saying ‘We want to invest, please come on, re-open’,” Baumgaertel said of the repeated decision to raise the round’s limit. “We thought if there’s such a desire from the crowd, why should we shut the door?”

One reason to shut the door eventually, of course, was that the campaign was being conducted on Seedmatch, meaning investors get a cut of Protonet’s future profits and stand to benefit if and when the company eventually goes public (they don’t get voting rights, though). Upping the limit on the round didn’t dilute what the round’s early investors had signed up for, but from the main shareholders’ perspective the party had to reach an end at some point – for now, at least.

“We’d rather optimize those €3 million as well as we can and then open another round,” Baumgaertel said. Protonet previously crowdfunded €200,000 through Seedmatch at the start of 2013, then picked up $1.2 million from local angel backers.

The fact that the company is now swimming in much more cash than it anticipated will lead to swifter internationalization of its product. As Baumgaertel explained, the original plan was to start pushing beyond the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) around the middle of next year. “Now we can already take the first steps in this direction,” he said.

That means becoming active further afield in Europe, so as to learn more about customer support, import and export and so on. Then onwards to the U.S., which Protonet hopes will provide a springboard for the rest of the world.

Perhaps you can expect to see Protonet’s orange box and its secure collaboration software in operation near you over the coming years.

  1. Nice looking box, hard to stick it in a rack. Since a huge part of the product is the Protonet SOUL operating system, I wonder if the chassis itself is just part of the branding, and SOUL could be run on other hardware. I do not see why not. Especially if you could get the software-only option for a lower price.

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    1. At the moment it’s just on the Protonet boxes, but there will be other versions to use the software SOUL in the future!

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