BackupLabs devises SaaS backup for under-protected apps

A new SaaS backup specialist emerges from stealth to protect data in apps such as Trello, GitHub and GitLab, which CEO Rob Stevenson said have been underserved by larger players.

BackupLabs is cooking up data protection for SaaS applications the company considers vulnerable and overlooked by its larger counterparts.

BackupLabs, headquartered in Bournemouth, U.K., emerged from stealth earlier this year and sells subscriptions offering daily automated backups for data kept in some SaaS platforms. Specific capabilities include audit locks, granular recovery and mandatory multi-user authentication for changes to backups to protect against deletion or ransomware attacks. Backup data is stored within Amazon S3, and pricing is based on the application and the amount of data protected.

The company currently sells services for Trello, GitHub and GitLab. Other applications the company expects to support include Notion, Jira and Asana, among others.

BackupLabs CEO and founder Rob Stevenson started the company in 2021 after seeing the demand for Microsoft 365 backups for the past several years and the increase in SaaS products to the market. Stevenson said many of the larger backup vendors already target major SaaS products, such as Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, but don't protect popular SaaS applications used for specialized tasks.

Stevenson is also the CEO and founder of BackupVault, a cloud data backup vendor founded in 2004 that targets SMBs primarily in the U.K. Prior to BackupVault, Stevenson was CEO at Vyper Networks, which provided IT support and web hosting for SMBs with services such as cloud backup and malware protection.

TechTarget Editorial spoke with Stevenson about the launch of BackupLabs, how he expects the product and SaaS protection to evolve, and how BackupLabs will compete in a growing market.

Editor's note: The following has been edited for length and clarity.

What separates your product from other SaaS backup competitors like Rewind?

Rob Stevenson, founder and CEO, BackupLabsRob Stevenson

Rob Stevenson: [Rewind] started in about 2015, and they started just doing Shopify, which they do really well. So that's not actually something we'd be looking at backing up. But if you've ever used Rewind, it's incredibly hard to use. Their UX and UI is not intuitive.

We've employed a couple of UX and UI experts that know the SaaS industry inside-out and are helping us build our system in the background. We've got the experience of 20-plus years of backup and knowing what customers want.

I think the advantage of Rewind is that it has a massive amount of VC money behind it. We're bootstrapped and we're self-financed.

[But] we can react quickly. If a customer wants a particular feature, we can do that. I think we can iterate and develop things quicker than others that must have meetings and [have to operate] at a slower pace.

Why have you decided to focus on a handful of smaller SaaS applications over Microsoft 365 or other enterprise SaaS?

Stevenson: There's basically no point [as] it's been done really well.

I'd much rather spend our time and effort on doing all the smaller systems and, to be honest, I'm not sure if the big backup players will go for the smaller [SaaS products]. If they do, obviously, we'll have some competition. But I think the total addressable market in the number of users is probably going to be too small for them to develop it.

What's the criteria for choosing a SaaS to back up?

Stevenson: We will research the SaaS app to see how popular it is and how many users it has. It's sometimes not that easy to get information out of these SaaS companies because they don't always tell you.

Because if there's something with say, 10,000 customers, it's probably not worth our time developing a backup connectivity to talk to that API to extract the data and be able to restore it. We're never going to get all 10,000 of their customers.

But if you're talking about Trello with 50 million users, a large percentage of those will be organizations, not free users, and they'll be willing to pay to back their data up. Also, we look at how easy their API is to work with -- more importantly, how easy is it to restore [and] push the data back into the application.

How do you feel about the new SaaS backup strategy being pushed by the likes of HYCU, where they enable SaaS developers to connect to their service through common APIs rather than designing for the application?

Stevenson: [HYCU] might be onto something in that they will make it easier for the SaaS application to bolt in and send customers in that direction. But I honestly don't think [SaaS developers] will spend the time to connect to the HYCU API. It's just not really their specialty. It's much easier for them to say to their customers, 'Go on our marketplace. Here's two or three backup providers. Pick one.' I think that's the way it's going to go.

Why the focus on backing up data for these smaller applications?

Stevenson: Most IT people realize that Microsoft doesn't back up Microsoft 365. End users, probably 95% of them, don't realize it's not backed up. There's a constant educational marketing that 365 backup providers push out.

It will basically be the same for all the other apps that aren't backed up. It will be the same for Trello, for GitHub, for QuickBooks -- all the other apps that aren't backed up. It's going to be educating users on why they need to do it.

Where do you see SaaS backup changing or improving in the next few years?

Stevenson: What I see happening in the next one to two years is the privacy industry and the regulations will come down a bit harder.

More importantly, [you'll have to] show that you can restore [backup data]. That's the most important thing to show these auditing companies now. [This requirement] will be the same for Microsoft 365. To be fair, the auditing companies are now only just realizing that Microsoft 365 needs to be backed up and restored. So they're starting to ask that, and it's only a matter of time before they'll then realize Asana, Trello, QuickBooks and all these other things have to be backed up and restored.

The biggest problem -- I think it's going to happen soon -- is ransomware.

People know to back [critical data] up, but you've got an awful amount of critical data and [intellectual property] being stored in things like Trello. That's going to be a target. These hackers and ransomware-type gangs, they will go where the data is. The data is going into these hundreds of different apps that are being created.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

Next Steps

New SaaS hacks highlight need for backup data protection

Dig Deeper on Data backup security

Disaster Recovery