Boosting Web Site Performance
June 25, 2009— Vancouver, British Columbia
Strangeloop Networks Inc.
The Internet has undergone a tremendous revolution during the last five years. Web sites are no longer passive sources of information. Today, users are co-creators who generate content and Web pages are larger, more dynamic, more complicated, with people accessing them globally. All of which presents a problem for the companies and organizations trying to manage these pages and keep pace with their traffic.
But where others see a problem, Jonathan Bixby sees a business opportunity. That's how Strangeloop Networks Inc. was born.
Bixby is a serial technology entrepreneur. In 2006, along with his twin brother Joshua and co-founders Kent Alstad, Lee Purvis and Richard Campbell, Bixby sold Ironpoint Technology, the previous company they had co-created, to The Active Network. As a group, the team moved on to create Strangeloop.
Strangeloop designed and now manufactures a piece of computer hardware known as the AS1000. When companies install it, the networking device boosts the performance of their Web site, making it up to 10 times faster. It also enables the site to use existing hardware to meet peak user demand more efficiently.
"There's no code, no infrastructure changes. Your Web site is changed – made faster by default – the minute you install it," says Bixby, who as CEO is in charge of the company's sales, business development and management.
The AS1000 is aimed particularly at large network Web sites accommodating millions of regular users, such as social networking sites. These sites coordinate traffic through thousands of servers. Strangeloop's device serves as a gateway, sending users to the appropriate server depending on what application the person interacting on the site wants to use.
With financial assistance from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), Bixby and his fellow founders first built a proof-of-concept prototype of the AS1000. NRC-IRAP then helped them bridge the gap between seed investments and their first round of angel financing, where investors lent them money in return for an equity stake in the company. Later, NRC-IRAP's funding assistance enabled Strangeloop to build another prototype of their hardware device. Then they took their product to market.
Strangeloop, which now employs about 40 people, raised $11.5 million during its first angel investing round – the largest private angel deal in Canadian history, according to Bixby. They have subsequently raised another round of private financing.
"NRC-IRAP's involvement allowed us to start the technology to get us to our customers," Bixby explains. "It allowed us to ask them, 'Does this solve the problem that you have?'"
Bixby and his team were familiar with the financial support and expertise that NRC-IRAP offers because the Program also helped them take their first company, Ironpoint Technology, from an idea to a successful private technology company. According to Bixby, the expertise, strategic advice and the networking contacts provided to both companies were even more valuable than the financial assistance.
"ITAs from NRC-IRAP are adding legitimacy to our business every day that they're involved – that's hard to buy," Bixby says. "By taking a calculated risk on companies whose products have promise and market potential, the National Research Council and NRC-IRAP are instrumental in supporting the entire technology sector in British Columbia."
Strangeloop's AS1000 has won several industry awards, including Best of Microsoft TechEd 2007 and 2008. This year, Strangeloop was named a finalist for British Columbia Technology Industry Association’s (BCTIA) 2009 Technology Impact Award in the Most Promising Start-up and Excellence in Product Innovation categories.
"NRC-IRAP's financial assistance allowed us to hire and nurture a world-class development team in Canada instead of having to go abroad for less costly resources," Bixby says. "We consider our relationship with NRC-IRAP as a key success factor in becoming a world-class Canadian technology innovator."
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