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SimplyBlock secures $2.75M in seed funding to supercharge greener cloud storage

simplyblock founders
Simplyblock founders. Image credits; Simplyblock

Our society has become dependent on fast and efficient handling of vast amounts of data. Data centres all over the world provide this service, however, the technology behind them has stagnated. Advancements that make a real difference are few and far between so the only way to deal with the on-going exponential growth in unstructured data is by adding more servers, data centres, and upgrading components to more powerful [and more power-hungry] ones. Even as issues with latency, inefficiency, and aging networks worsen, pressures are also being applied to reduce the substantial carbon footprint of this technology.

SimplyBlock is a German deep-tech startup focused on developing low-latency, high-performance storage software. The company’s goal is to help businesses maximise the efficiency of their cloud storage for critical workloads, databases, and applications. Operating on a remote-first basis, SimplyBlock’s technology offers up to a fifty times improved cost-to-performance ratio compared to legacy storage solutions.

The Berlin-based high-performance cloud storage startup has just announced it has successfully raised $2.75 million in a seed funding round led by 42CAP, a pan-European seed-stage VC firm. Other key participants in the round include Antler, the most active early-stage investor in Europe, and Begin Capital, an international VC firm based in London. The round also saw contributions from high-profile angel investors such as Johan Svensson, the founder of Neo4j, a leading graph database company. SimplyBlock is currently hiring across engineering roles.

Transformative technology in cloud storage

SimplyBlock is positioning itself as the sole European startup dedicated to developing low-latency, high-performance cloud storage software. In an industry traditionally dominated by U.S. cloud providers and Israeli startups, SimplyBlock stands out by leveraging the latest technology advancements in SSD drives, specifically NVMe technology. The company aims to provide predictable, ultra-low latency software that unlocks the full potential of underlying hardware for users.

The technology, primarily written in C/C++ to harness low-level Linux features, boasts the capability to perform millions of operations per second (IOPS) with sub-millisecond latency. This translates to software that is up to ten times faster with a fifty times better cost-to-performance ratio compared to existing solutions in the enterprise and cloud storage sectors.

Growing demand for efficient data storage and environmental impact

With data volumes expected to surge by 1,000% by 2030, the data storage market is projected to be worth $250 billion. SimplyBlock is strategically positioned to tap into this growing market by offering fast, affordable, and secure storage solutions. The startup initially targets database users of various types (SQL, NoSQL, Vector, or Graph) with its first release set to be available for AWS users worldwide.

In addition to its performance benefits, SimplyBlock’s technology addresses an essential environmental concern. Data centres are significant contributors to carbon emissions, surpassing even the aviation industry. The International Energy Agency has called for data centres to halve their emissions by 2030. SimplyBlock’s low-latency, high-performance solution is poised to significantly reduce the energy consumption required for cloud storage, aligning with sustainability goals.

Expansion and the team behind SimplyBlock

While SimplyBlock is already open for early-access customers running databases on AWS, the recent funding round will enable the startup to expand its engineering team and move the product to general availability later in the year. The funding will play a crucial role in further developing and enhancing the innovative cloud storage solution.

SimplyBlock’s founders, Rob Pankow and Michael Schmidt, who first met during an Antler residency in Berlin in 2022, bring considerable technical experience to the startup. The team, which already includes engineers with backgrounds from notable tech companies, is set to grow with the expansion facilitated by the recent seed funding,

Rob Pankow, CEO, comes from senior roles at Rocket Internet startups and Delivery Hero. He has experience with scaling up businesses at different stages of growth and leads sales and business development at Simplyblock.

Michael Schmidt, CTO, spent 20 years working in IT, holding CTO positions at large businesses as well as founding several businesses in the enterprise software space. He expressed the need for innovation in the enterprise data storage industry, “As a CIO, I started to question the cost/performance ratio of Enterprise Storage Systems in the light of the latest generation of storage hardware such as ultra-fast NVMe SSDs. It turned out that Enterprise Data Storage is quite an inert industry. And later on it became evident that fast cloud storage has at least the same potential for innovation and optimization. That is how we came up with an alternative, which is more flexible and better scalable, has better performance at much lower cost and reduced carbon emissions than today’s systems and services.”

Praise from investors and industry observers

Investors such as Moritz Zimmermann, General Partner at 42CAP, have commended SimplyBlock’s innovative approach, breaking existing paradigms in storage access and consumption. Zimmermann commented, “We were surprised how much room for optimisation there still is in data storage – something that at first glance might seem like a commodity and highly optimised thing. The deep-tech nature of such technology makes it relatively sticky, and innovation must be radical for the users to make the switch. The technology change in storage usually happens in 10-20 years cycles. Simplyblock is tackling the problem from a really innovative angle, breaking many of the existing paradigms in terms of how storage is accessed and consumed, and we believe that they can be a leader of the next technology wave in cloud storage.”

Joël van Dijk, Partner at Begin Capital, highlighted SimplyBlock’s strengths in the European cloud storage sector, “The Simplyblock team is one of the strongest tech teams out there in the European cloud storage sector. There is momentum and a necessity created for optimizing data storage. Data usage and storage will be growing exponentially and therefore there will be an expected price increase from the supply side. I am looking forward to working together with the team and to supporting them in this entrepreneurial journey”.

Alan Poensgen, Partner at Antler, added, “Rob and Michael really excited us as a founding team. They make a very compelling combination – one deeply technical founder with decades of experience who built this technology to solve real problems that he faced, and one operating founder with a proven track record scaling some of Europe’s most successful tech companies. They are uniquely placed to build this type of cloud storage solution – a first in Europe – and we are delighted to have supported them from day zero.”

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