At six-years-old, file-sharing service WeTransfer, co-founded by Nalden and CEO Bas Beerens, is making an aggressive bet on the already-saturated U.S. marketplace.
On Monday, WeTransfer announced that it hit one billion global transfers in 2015, and expects to double that number by 2016. It also announced that entrepreneur and investor Troy Carter would be joining its board of directors, though it wouldn't disclose his equity stake.
Carter, who's credited with launching the music careers of Lady Gaga and Meghan Trainor, is also a guest on season seven of Shark Tank, and an investor in companies like Uber, Spotify, Lyft, and Warby Parker. He owns and operates SMASHD Labs, a startup accelerator that counts WeTransfer as one of its new members, through Atom Factory, his Culver City, Calif.-based entertainment company.
In an interview with Inc., Carter explained that the uniqueness of WeTransfer's business model -- and namely, its banner ad-free approach to marketing -- was especially attractive. In fact, he sees WeTransfer as more of a media business, and even goes so far as to call it "Apple-esque."
"When you have an audience that are downloading files, you essentially become a media platform," he says. "We love the simplicity [of WeTransfer]. You know how to use it as soon as you log on."
Carter admits that he's selective about which companies he'll actually join the board of (WeTransfer is one of just two). The fact that the company is profitable, of course, was another big sell factor.
"It's one of the rare companies in this wave of startups that has been profitable from the very beginning," he says. "To be in that position shows that the model actually works and that high-quality advertisers appreciate the uniqueness of this sort of product." The company makes revenues through wallpaper advertisements, as opposed to banner ads, and by selling bonus features through WeTransfer Plus.
What may set WeTransfer apart from competitors -- Dropbox, most obviously -- is the ever-so-hip target client.
"I compare it to an art gallery. You can go to WeTransfer to share or discover a file, sure. But you can also be inspired by beautiful, high-quality art as you're uploading or downloading," says Beerens.
If it's not clear that WeTransfer bills itself for the more artistically inclined, consider that more than half of its global users work in creative industries. It also gives away one third of its total page views (900 million) to artwork by visual artists for free.
With 35 million monthly users, and about $25 million in venture capital funding, WeTransfer's prospects aren't too shabby. Still, that's nothing compared to Dropbox's staggering $10 billion valuation, and its roughly 400 million active users.
Additionally, expanding into the U.S. will come with its own set of challenges, where concerns over security are generally more heightened than they are in Europe.
Carter isn't worried, and points again to the uniqueness of the revenue model.
"I'm bullish on the growth opportunity, and also bullish on the non-dependency on what the current model looks like," he says.