From StorageRoom to Contentful

June 23, 2013


As mobile app developers we had to include content into our clients’ apps. Content like news, announcements, help text, recipes or points of interests. Managing this content has been a major pain in each of these projects.

Some of our customers sent us Excel spreadsheets with product information, which we imported into the application bundle and then sent to Apple for review. Updating the content meant finding out which of the 15 spreadsheets was the current one, then importing the content again, sending the app for review and waiting days to weeks for app store approval. End-users only received the updated content after they updated their applications, which often took months. I think I don't have to go into more details why this approach makes absolutely no sense...

Other customers had legacy content management systems that we had to plug into. These CMS were stuck in a decade-old, HTML and page-centric architecture that didn’t allow serving content to native mobile apps on iOS or Android. They only superficially separated content from presentation, which brought big problems in mobile apps, where access to structured content was required to render the content in the native interface, like a table or map view. Some CMS are better in structured content than others, but in general they were all created as web publishing tools and tightly coupled to one presentation layer: HTML pages.

We’ve been very frustrated with the state of content management and therefore decided to scratch our own itch. As a side project we developed StorageRoom, a cloud-based service to manage content in mobile apps.

Hundreds of users signed up in the first months. From individuals working as freelancers, to agencies, small app providers, global publishers and media companies. We saw that content management for apps is a real pain, not only for our own clients, but for many organizations we never worked with directly.

Now that even normal website are becoming more interactive web applications, content needs to be managed in a presentation-independent format, so that it can then be delivered to new platforms: mobile apps, web apps in HTML5 and JavaScript (Backbone, Ember, Angular and many others), but also to smartwatches, connected cars or Google Glass.

With StorageRoom we had revenue coming in, but not enough to push the big vision we had in mind.

But then we met a set of amazing investors: Roberto Bonanzinga (@bonanzinga from Balderton and Christoph Janz (@chrija) from Point Nine. They have a ton of experience in building startups themselves and provide very useful advice, which in the end is worth much more than the money we raised.

Besides the investors we also assembled an impressive team of advisors. They have held key roles in companies like Apple, WPP, the BBC or Rovio, or are or are leaders in the space of content and mobile. We are very fortunate to be able to plug into their deep knowledge about content, mobile, tech and startups.

A decision we had to face was how to proceed with development. StorageRoom has always been working solidly, but after taking on funding we decided to take a step back to the drawing board. Real life feedback from our customers taught us that we can build an even better service. That's why we decided to build Contentful, a content management platform with the same underlying idea as StorageRoom, but with a new architecture that will allow us to deliver amazing features right from the start, but which also has much more potential for the future.

Contentful has been created from scratch - with a ton of hard work by our great team (thanks!) - with an API-first approach, and high performance and scalability in mind. Our whole API is served through a global content delivery network, where content is put to the geographically closest server of your end users. This guarantees high availability, but also makes load times of content super low.

We'll start to give out invites for the Contentful beta this week. Leave us your e-mail and we will invite you in as soon as we have a spot free.

And as a last note, as an existing StorageRoom customer you don't have to worry. We understand that you have apps in production that rely on content delivery from StorageRoom. StorageRoom will be closed for new sign ups, but StorageRoom will still be available until the end of 2014, which will give you enough time for migration. We're working on tools to make the migration as easy as possible.

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