Lima, a startup headquartered in the Paris Region, has come up with a new kind of home-based, automatic cloud computing service. This could be the beginning of a new era – even for the average Joe.

Séverin Marcombes is a geek. He studied electrical engineering and has mastered all the ins and outs of computers. But his vision is to make cloud services easy to use, even for people who don’t have his background. That’s why, together with his fellow student Gawen Arab-Laffon, Marcombes created Lima, now one of France’s most successful technology startups. It is poised to revolutionize cloud computing.

Their product: a home-based server system that gives you access to all your files from all your Internet-connected devices such as smartphones, laptops, etc. Just connect a hard drive to the compact Lima box with a USB cable and download the company’s software onto each device.

Waiting for the revolution to arrive

“When I was in college, we were always waiting for someone to come up with a new kind of cloud computing service, because Dropbox and its ilk have too many downsides,” Marcombes said.“Users are not provided with enough space, they have to drop files manually into the cloud and if Dropbox goes bust, their data will be lost forever.”

By the time Marcombes and Arab-Laffon finished their studies in 2011, the much-anticipated cloud computing revolution still hadn’t occurred. So the two graduates decided to make it happen themselves.

Marcombes set up the new company, while Arab-Laffon helped out during the weekend – he was working full-time at another tech company at the time. After several months of intense work, they came up with a limited demo of their new product – a program to send a large number of pictures from one computer to another all at once, regardless of their sizes.

“Everybody had been telling us our project wasn’t feasible and we wanted to show them, with that first demo, that it was,” said Marcombes. And show them they did. In nine months, 90,000 people subscribed. Marcombes, by then joined by Arab-Laffon on a full-time basis, went back to work. By mid-2013, they re-emerged with a full product concept for Lima and launched a Kickstarter campaign.

France’s most successful Kickstarter campaign

They aimed to collect $69,000 – just enough to manufacture the first 1,000 Lima boxes and keep their company afloat. But they achieved a flabbergasting $1.2 million – France’s most successful Kickstarter campaign!

The two founders beefed up their headcount to 21, rented office space near Paris and promised to ship the first batch of beta products to their supporters by December 2013. But when they missed the deadline by a year, they received numerous emails from angry backers. “Of course I understand that they were mad at us – after all, they had paid out of their own pockets for our research and development,” said Marcombes. The company replied individually to each email and went to meet its supporters at face-to-face events in cities like Berlin, Las Vegas and London.

Now, one and a half years later, the anger has somewhat abated and Lima says it has learned a lot from the feedback, albeit negative. Meanwhile, the company banked an additional €2.5 million from investment fund Partech Ventures.

One thousand pioneer beta kits have been sent out to its backers, and more are being shipped at the rate of one every 30 minutes. The final product, known as the Lima unification kit, will come out this September and cost €149.

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