Digital for all now

Séverin Marcombes : “Reinventing the concept of storage to make life easier for thousands of people”

Séverin Marcombes 16 Sep 2014

Lima is yet another tech startup to have emerged from France. In just two months, it managed to raise $1.2 million on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter – a highly promising start for digital makers Séverin Marcombes and Gawen Arab-Laffon, founders of Lima, who are reinventing personal data storage

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In an age when Big Data is being hailed as 21st-century gold, this little gadget looks set to revolutionise data storage for both organisations and individuals.

 

“Before you invent tomorrow’s technologies you have to optimise the way we use today’s”

 

Lima acts as a “brain for an external hard drive,” says Séverin Marcombes. This electronic console, the size of a hand, is plugged into an internet router or TV set top box and external hard drive and then onto each of the user’s devices and miraculously consolidates and unifies all the users’ files across their devices (PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc.).
The gadget then enables the devices to communicate to each other, regardless of their make or operating system, and ensures the user has access to the same content across all the platforms, whatever their size. Users thus have easy access to their data on any device, thus optimising their existing tools – and without any interoperability issues.
The system can thus improve data circulation within organisations:

“Our company is totally about making technology accessible to everyone,” says Séverin. “Digital for All is what we’re about. And with us it’s happening now. Bluetooth was invented in 1994 but it’s only now that that we’re using its full potential. Before you invent tomorrow’s technologies you have to optimise the way we use today’s.”

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Breaking with 20 years of data storage philosophy

Marcombes and Arab-Laffon, two embedded systems specialists, came up with their idea by observing problems commonly encountered with data storage:

“We realised that most people use two different computers every day (desktop and laptop). But current technologies don’t allow you to have the same files on both of them. We decided we had to address that issue.”

The tech-savvy reader may well argue that there are already a number of solutions for transferring files – personal and business – from one piece of hardware to another. The two young entrepreneurs dismiss this as “tinkering”:

“We didn’t want to waste time and energy transferring documents from one platform to another by copying and pasting them onto hard drives and USB sticks, or via the cloud,” says Séverin.

And this presented quite a challenge: with the current cloud computing wave, online document hosting is the subject of much debate, particularly regarding the issue of data protection. With Lima, users can manage their own files without using a third-party server. “We’ve changed the way people have been thinking about storage for the past 20 years!”

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“We decided to shake things up”

Whilst the device itself isn’t exactly a technological revolution, the concept is very attractive: with 17,000 already on pre-order, $1.2 million raised online and a further $2.5 million from seed fund Partech Venture, Lima is off to a spectacular start.

But launching the project wasn’t all plain sailing: the Lima team came across a number of obstacles, particularly at the beginning. The first challenge, says Séverin Marcombes, was selling the idea.

“No one really believed in the project. They said: ‘we already have the cloud, we don’t need anything else.’ This is a natural reaction in today’s world. But we decided we had to shake things up, we had to persevere. And of course we had to deal with critics and their arguments.”

The first issue raised is that of protection of personal data: the problem with storing data in the cloud in order to access it anywhere is that we don’t know where the servers on which the data is stored are located. But with Lima, the major advantage for organisations and individuals is that the data is stored on a physical hard drive, at home or in the office.

Where storage is concerned, Lima empowers users and puts them in control of their data.

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