Over the years I’ve noticed that when a tech trend heats up, I discover successful vendors that have been toiling away out of the limelight for years. In cloud computing, Caspio is one such pioneer.
I spoke recently with Caspio founder/CEO Frank Zamani and was surprised to learn the company has been around since 2001 and has thousands of customers using 150,000 applications. Including some big enterprises and media companies like the LA Times.
Zamani, by the way, is not a newbie as an entrepreneur. He was a co-founder of Autoweb, which eventually led to a successful IPO and acquisition by Autobytel.
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The focus of Caspio is non-developers who want to “publish a database on the web and make it search-able,” Zamani says. A few examples: a car manufacturer managing vacation and overtime; a professional service firm managing orders; a financial services company managing conference logistics; and non-profits managing memberships. And, some SMBs are using Caspio for lightweight CRM applications.
Sam Nelson, founder of Private Equity Database, uses Caspio to track 1,400 private equity firms, 16,000+ portfolio companies, and 15,000+ professionals as part of a paid service offering. He didn’t have the coding experience, so decided to build his own application around Caspio, due to low start-up costs and an “intuitive” setup that got his initial application online in less than a week.
Another good example is a home sales database published by my local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle. But maybe this is not such a good time to look!
Most SaaS vendors use a per-seat pricing model, which can be problematic if you have a lot of low activity users. Caspio is different. For just $39.95 you can put up to 10 “datapages” (essentially, web forms) online, with unlimited users. That’s a pretty good deal, but note that additional fees could apply for extra storage and data transfer.
Rather than rent utility computing from Amazon.com or elsewhere, Caspio runs its operation like most SaaS vendors, using its own equipment in a colocated datacenter. Zamani claims this enables him to deliver a reliable service while keeping costs low.
While Caspio is not really intended to be a full-fledged CRM application, I could see it being used for basic contact management and lead tracking. In fact, Caspio offers a free SOHO package that includes a “mini-CRM” app.
Business users will be looking for more DIY tools as budgets get tighter in the months ahead. It wouldn’t surprise me if the down economy is a boost to Caspio’s business.