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ProofHQ aims to help marketing teams collaborate on content by digitising drafted design work, print ads, web pages, etc.
I've been asking CEO Mat Atkinson to explain more about the company, its business model, and future plans.
In one sentence, what is ProofHQ?
ProofHQ is an online proofing solution for marketing teams of any size in any industry who need to deliver marketing projects faster and more efficiently.
What problems does ProofHQ solve?
Companies are challenged with delivering all kinds of content for marketing projects. A crucial part of this is the review-and-approval process.
The problem with the traditional way to review proofs, mainly printing hard copies and writing comments on them, is not efficient enough to handle the large volumes of content that today’s marketing teams must review. This includes print ads, catalogs, web pages, mobile pages, in-store signage, radio and TV commercials.
Having to print and manually route proofs to all reviewers and collecting all the comments takes an exorbitant amount of time and resources. Also, using email and PDF attachments to review proofs requires a lot of bandwidth.
Discussions via email eventually get mired in countless replies and CC’s, as everyone tries to figure out next steps.
ProofHQ streamlines this whole process by creating digital versions of proofs and layering simple markup and commenting tools on them. Marketing teams can now distribute, review and approve the content virtually. All the commenting and discussion happens directly on the virtual proof.
Comments are threaded to keep the conversation focused on action items and next best steps. All of this activity is centralized in the cloud so that reviewers have access to proofs anytime, anywhere they have an internet connection.
This streamlined process gets marketing projects done faster and more efficiently. Some of our customers have reported reduced review-and-approval times of up to 80%. On average customers have reduced their effort for managing proofs by 59%.
When and why did you launch it?
The product was launched in beta in mid-2008 and a full launch took place in late 2008.
The ProofHQ light bulb moment was at my last company, when I saw just how much time people were spending e-mailing PDF attachments, using FTP to send artwork and even resorting to fax to get feedback on designs.
I also saw that feedback and creative projects happened in nearly every company that I worked with and was a time-consuming and slow process.
A new generation of business collaboration tools that took advantage of the internet were just starting to take off and I believed that there was an opportunity to build a web-based application that could significantly streamline the review and approval process for marketing managers and designers.
Who is your target audience?
We target marketing teams of any size in any industry. Our client roster includes companies in retail, consumer packaged goods, telecoms, healthcare, financial services, and marketing agencies to name a few.
What are your immediate goals?
Our goal is to be the standard industry tool for review and approval of creative content. We want ProofHQ to be so incredibly easy to use, that designers and project managers in companies of any size can start using ProofHQ with little or no training.
Our aim is for ProofHQ to be used proof any type of creative content, on any device (PC/Mac, tablet, smart phone) through any workflow.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building ProofHQ?
The first challenge is finding the best people to join the team. The calibre of the people on the team determines how well we serve our customers, which in turn determines the success of the company. We are fortunate to have created such a dedicated and passionate team of people.
The second challenge is to establish what is known as product-market-fit. This is ensuring that the ProofHQ product REALLY meets the needs of its customers.
The only way to do that is to continually gather feedback from customers, observe the use of ProofHQ in the real world and measure everything about the way the product is used. We can continually introduce rapid improvements to the product based on all of that feedback.
Where would you like to be in one, three and five years?
In one year we would like to be seen has market leaders for online proofing in several key industries and have brought name recognition in the marketing world.
In three years we would like to be seen as the market leader for online proofing generally across all industries.
In technology terms, five years is an awfully long time, but our aim is to create a long-lasting and meaningful company that is dedicated to fulfilling a real business need and doing so in a way that truly delights our customers.