We talked to Ben Dowling, Founder and CEO at IPinfo.io about the trusted source for IP address data and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ben Dowling: We’re doing well! Remote schooling has been tough and hard to juggle, but it has been nice to spend so much time together with the kids.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded IPinfo.io.
Ben Dowling: I’m originally from the UK and now live in Seattle with my wife and three kids. After graduating from university in Southampton, I moved to London and worked for a bunch of startups there. While I was working for Lightbox, an Android photo-sharing app, Facebook acquired the team. As a Facebook engineer, I worked on stopping bad ads and malicious advertisers. After that, I was CTO at Calm.com before founding IPinfo. IPinfo evolved fairly organically, from a fun little side project, then into a more fully-formed product, and eventually into a real business. All of our initial users joined us as a free service, and they helped spread the word. They were the ones tweeting about it, sharing it, and helping us grow. In some ways, we feel a responsibility towards those early users and want to continue to support them. They give us great feedback and product suggestions, which helps us make a better product and often encourages those users to become paid subscribers.
How does IPinfo.io innovate?
Ben Dowling: IPinfo prides itself on being the most reliable, accurate, and in-depth source of IP address data available anywhere. Our IP address-related APIs serve over 40 billion API requests per month for more than 100,000 businesses and developers. Some of the services we offer include IP geolocation lookup, which means the identification of an IP address’ geographic location in the real world. We build and maintain our own proprietary database, which can be used to generate various forms of geographic information for your IP traffic. Our Privacy Detection API detects different methods used to mask a user’s true IP address, including VPN detection, proxy detection, tor usage, or a connection via a hosting provider, which could potentially be used to tunnel traffic and mask the true IP address. Our APIs can be useful to every industry you can think of — Cybersecurity, web personalization, financial technology…we’ve got some great use cases and case studies on our site that showcase how our customers use IPinfo’s data for everything from simple purposes, like redirecting users based on their location, to more complex projects, such as creating their own in-house analytics dashboard.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ben Dowling: We’ve always been a fully remote company, so in that sense, we were well prepared for Covid and didn’t need to change much around how we operate – most of us already worked from home or co-working spaces, and we collaborate over Slack and Github and Notion.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ben Dowling: What changed the most was our team’s non-work life – being locked down and not able to use gyms, see friends and socialize. We had to figure out how to maintain a work-life balance. So we made sure to make extra effort to have fun events through work and extra time in meetings to chat about life outside work. We started doing online team quizzes semi-regularly, and they’ve been a lot of fun.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and IPinfo.io in the future?
Ben Dowling: A certain level of stress and anxiety is to be expected when running a startup, but there have been so many additional external stressors this year on everyone. I really make an effort to try to switch off in the evening and on weekends, as much as possible. I also stay active — I’m a runner, and we also try to take advantage of all of the great trails and hiking here in the Pacific Northwest. What I’ve found helpful when it comes to thinking about the future of IPinfo is talking through issues with friends and other startup founders. A lot of times, it helps me realize they have similar issues, and it gives me a chance to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Your final thoughts?
Ben Dowling: This year has been full of challenges, but I’m grateful to all of our users who continued to support us and motivated us to keep working to innovate and optimize IPinfo’s services despite the circumstances. We had a great year, so I’m also incredibly thankful for our team and looking forward to what the New Year will bring.
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