This Cincinnati Startup is Rethinking How Files are Shared

a smiling woman using a laptop

Pieces breaks large projects into shareable chunks to improve workflow

When you’re working on a project — from simple things like a presentation to complex jobs like a film or piece of software — transferring files can be a pain. Everything needs to stay together, and file sizes continue to get larger and larger in complex, clunky projects. But what if a designer could grab one image out of that gigantic file to share with a colleague? What if a team member could instantly share one slide instead of the entire presentation? That’s what Cincinnati startup Pieces is enabling.

“Today, if you want to send a project, it’s bound by the entire file,” said co-founder and CEO Tsavo Knott. “So professional creators like developers, designers, animators, musicians, and even engineers use these heavy duty native applications. What we enable you to do is grab a part out of that entire project and send it straight to someone like copy and pasting. I can send you a link, you click that link, and now what is on my clipboard is on your clipboard and you’re reusing it.”

Because the same challenges plague almost every field imaginable, the ceiling for Pieces is off the charts. The company is working with beta testers and building partnerships, with plans to open up their platform in 2022 for third party developers to build file fragments using their software. Given the way they’re rethinking file sharing, the company’s success could lead to a major paradigm shift in a variety of industries.

“A super simple case of file fragments is Google slides — if I want to send you a single slide, I should be able to do it as easily as copy and pasting,” said Knott. “But right now, if I want to send you a single slide, I have to delete every slide, duplicate the deck, and send you the deck. Why can’t I just copy it out of Google slides, paste it into Pieces and send you that piece? That is the workflow that we would expect to have, but that’s not the workflow that we do have. Now, extrapolate that out to animation or videography or art boards with massive projects. You can’t just send this small part. We want to make it so that you don’t need to load around this whole thing called the file.”

The creators of Pieces aren’t the only ones excited about its potential. They recently raised a capital funding round that Knott can’t specify, but he did say “it was a lot of capital.” Now, they’re working with everyone from database experts and machine learning engineers to software developers with the goal of building partnerships that will make the Pieces platform more connected and accessible. Their first main venture has been building a “micro product” called CloudSync in partnership with a company called UltraEdit.

“One of our main goals is to build a couple of flagship products and then really quickly enable other partnerships to build and extend their apps interface,” Knott said. “UltraEdit was recently purchased by a company called Idera, which represents tens of millions of developers globally. We’re working on extending that relationship to the rest of Idera’s portfolio companies. That’s a really exciting thing for us. It means that we’re able to communicate and reach millions of developers to get their perspective on what we’re building and also enable them to build on top of the platform. So that’s a really big win that we’re excited about here wrapping up 2021.”

Given its wide range of uses, Pieces company has an international focus, with an office in Poland and team members everywhere from Europe to Toronto and San Francisco. But to cultivate their company culture and build a home, Pieces is enthusiastic about Cincinnati and Ohio. They host an annual “innovation summit” where everyone flies to the Queen City to participate in a “hack-a-thon” and other innovation-oriented team-building activities. Knott said even their European team members love being in Cincinnati, which has become an important part of the company’s mission.

“Being in Cincinnati and Ohio has been about the culture and the timing,” he said. “We have rockstar colleges and people who work really hard. There’s great access to information and the ability to connect with people globally, but also a smaller pond that enables more networking and more authentic relationship building. That culture building is very important to the next generation of talent. Ohio also has a lot of youth to it, and I think that’s very powerful for solving problems. We’re also enabling people to have cost efficiencies that they wouldn’t have had before. We can raise Silicon Valley numbers but operate at Midwest efficiencies. Being in Ohio is definitely an advantage.”

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