America's Best Young Entrepreneurs - Sam Lessin, 26
Sam Lessin was working on leveraged buyouts at Bain & Co. when he and co-worker Darshan Somashekar noticed how difficult it was to share media files securely in private with clients or outside companies, even as sites like YouTube and Flickr made public file-sharing a snap. "Why is it so easy to publicly share stuff and so hard to privately share stuff?" says Lessin, a Harvard grad. The pair left in August 2007 to found Drop.io to solve the problem. They had a prototype working in six weeks, and raised $4 million in venture funding in early 2008. (Somashekar, who is 25, left the company shortly after co-founding it.)
Drop.io lets users create an online "drop" where they can place media files like audio, video, or documents. They control how it can be accessed (with a password or a paywall, for example), published through an RSS feed, or even made available to other users in real time. Users can even call a number assigned to the drop and leave a message that will appear online as an MP3 file. Individual users can sign up for a free version, but the premium Drop.io service ranges from $10 a year and $100 a month, or higher for more involved custom applications. Last month, Yahoo Mail started using Drop.io to let users send large files of up to 100 megabytes. The company now has 12 employees. Lessin says Drop.io has millions of users each month, with 1% to 5% using paid services. Revenue in 2009 is up 500% so far from the same period last year, he says.
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