We recently sat down with the co-founders of Ninite.com, Patrick and Sascha, to learn more about their awesome company and how it helps IT Professionals. Ninite was one of our favorite tools to add to TechWARU, so it was fun to learn more about what they do and how they started. So without further ado, here’s the interview:
Thanks for joining us guys. First off, can you guys give us a little bit of background about yourselves?
Yeah, Sascha and I actually met at YCombinator, we were both doing single founder companies back in winter 2008. It was pretty tough going alone, so we teamed up midway through it and started work on what Sascha was doing, which was application sandboxing for Windows. We did that for a while and had trouble figuring out how to market and explain it to people.
So the next time, we decided to try something very simple. At the time, we were setting up all these test virtual machines and always installing Firefox and all these other apps on those machines. So, we thought we could automate that and people might find it useful. And they did! So we switched over and started doing Ninite stuff. We quickly heard from a bunch of people that wanted more features and that became Ninite Pro and Ninite One.
Nice. Just out of curiosity, how did people react when you added Ninite Pro? Was there any backlash on that or were people pretty receptive?
I think still to this day largely people don’t realize that there is a pro version. We’re not too in your face about it. We should probably get better at that to tell you the truth. But there are still tons of people signing up for Pro. It all works out.
Regarding Ninite Pro, how does your pricing work exactly?
So we do per machine and price it by blocks. So 1-100 machines for just 20 bucks a month. We count those machines in a rolling 30 day window of unique machines. We do it that way to make it easy for repair shops and people who work on different machines every month. If you’re selling to a company or computer lab in a university then they are always going to have the same machines every month, that works well for them too.
Sure, that seems like a suitable pricing model for most repair shops that I can think of. How did you guys come up with the name “Ninite”?
We initially were calling it “Volery” but we couldn’t get the domain name. Paul Graham had just seen Dropbox go through all their chaos trying to finally get the dropbox.com domain. So he advised us to change it. So we wrote a little script to generate nonsense words and look to see if the .com domain name was available. We had that generate a big list of those names and Ninite looked like the best one so we picked that.
How was your experience with YCombinator?
Are you guys still in those offices? You said you were in YCombinator back in 2008 right?
We haven’t been there in a while but we catch up with the alumni fairly often, every month or so. Its just an incredible group. It’s such a great thing, starting a company. YCombinator provides such a low barrier of entry.
What tools do you use in your infrastructure to help you automate and maximize your efficiency when you are dealing with anything from customer service, sales, payment processing, etc.
Python! We use python for most of our backend stuff. We do a lot of our own backend tools.
Why do that rather than use something that is already existing?
Being able to know that everything is working correctly and doing exactly what we need. We like being able to customize everything to suit our needs, so that’s what we built!
Do you have any cool stories about creative ways that people have used your products or some funny stories users might have told you?
We have a lot of blind people that use Ninite. It was really surprising when we figured this out! So we have a special accessible access page on Ninite, https://ninite.com/accessible, where people tell us what things work with the latest screen readers. So, learning that about a segment of our customers was a pleasant surprise.
In what ways can Ninite get even better?
We’re very interested in making it easier to use Ninite Pro. We’re investigating in that area these days. We’ve made the process simpler and begun to open up to new markets of people who could get things done with Ninite.
What is your go-to pitch on the value you provide to IT professionals?
We watch for the updates of popular software and automate their installation so that technicians don’t have to. They can have their Ninite.exe ready on a flashdrive or in a scheduler and the technician can know that each time, Ninite will install the programs perfectly, even if there is a change to the installer or an update put out.
For more information about Ninite, visit their website at ninite.com