Home MetaASO: A Bootstrapped P2P Startup From India

MetaASO: A Bootstrapped P2P Startup From India

Anyone who has followed my posts on ReadWriteWeb, knows that I am interested in how innovation is going global, particularly innovation from India, and that I think P2P is the next great disruptive technology – the only one that could derail the Google steamroller. So it is no wonder that MetaASO caught my eye — via Pluggd.in, a site that tracks Indian startups.

MetaASO is a self-funded, bootstrapped startup that claims north of $1 million in revenue. In fact, being self-funded, that means they’re very likely profitable. I commented about this with some skepticism and here is how one of the founders responded:

“Some facts:

MetaASO is the name of the Company. Mermaid is the name of the Product Suite.

We started in Oct 2002 and our Release 1 happened 1.5 years back in limited circle beta. Full public Beta Release 2 happened a few weeks back.

There are 5 founders and the engineering team is of 20 people.

We can do a belle dance in front of customers but we never say ‘Give us work.’ We just mention softly that besides giving away software for free we also develop custom P2P softwares for organizations. And that typically costs around $300-$400,000 per software we develop. We have 3 enterprise customers. This is besides the money we make from ads on our softwares.We are not proud that in the 6th year of operation we have 3 enterprise customers. We could have made a lot of money by providing services but that would make us a yet another services company. Which we are not and don’t want to be. So just enough to sustain ourselves, but our emphasis is on product development. We plan to do away with all services very soon and concentrate purely on product development.”

This is smart self-funding. I bet they learn a lot from each enterprise job as well as getting cash. This is the classic “3 custom jobs to a product, iterating and generalizing on each project” that the enterprise software business has been built on for decades.

MetaASO stumbled at the first hurdle for me, which was that you need Silverlight and that means a PC (I use a Mac). So I would be interested in any first hand experience with their product. PC is still the best shot for volume, so I don’t doubt the strategic wisdom of going that route.

The other requirements:

“Mermaid softwares can be used on the LAN e.g. at office, campus etc. with out any internet connection. To use them on the internet you require a “Globally Routable IPV6 Address” for your computer. Ask your ISP for one and it should get done within 15-20 minutes. They will do whatever is required. You don’t have to do anything.

Apart from that a powerful computer always helps. And even though Mermaid softwares will run on 256MB RAM systems 1GB is good and 2 GB is awesome.

As far as the internet connection speed goes. We recommend a minimum of 256Kbps (for all our audio/video based applications) for the rest 128Kbps would do. But nowadays its best to get a 512Kbps or 1MBps connection if you are starting your own TV Station.”

So one can see that an “enterprise first” strategy makes sense for MetaASO. I am not sure about getting “Globally Routable IPV6 Address” from your ISP. Has anybody had experience with that?

Get past those hurdles and the big message is “no servers needed.” That’s right, no supernodes, no nothing. Real Peer To Peer. Your very own TV station. Sounds like YouTube — except you don’t need a server farm costing gazillions.

This is the same idea that got me excited about Faroo. Two other similarities: both use Microsoft base technologies (no surprise, given the P2P focus), and both originate outside USA (Faroo from Germany, MetaASO from India). The latter maybe to do with the fact that funding is a bit tougher if you don’t live in the Valley, so you tend to focus on things that are big enough to warrant the years of bootstrapping.

Go to MetaASO and check it out. Listen to their welcome message on their Pickle Player (no download). Is real serverless P2P viable for search or video?

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