Sunil Patro, EasySignMobile: Sign documents using your iPad or iPhone, anytime & anywhere
There are usually a number of reasons for starting up. But invariably, the seeds for starting up are sown due to a personal need. Entrepreneur Sunil Patro was holidaying in Mexico during the summer of 2009 when he was offered a great job with a cool startup in the US. He managed to sign the offer letter after running around quite a bit in search for a place with a printer and a fax machine. The idea for EasySignMobile was born out of this experience.EasySignMobile allows users to sign documents (and get them signed) through an iPad or iPhone. Users can sign, scale the signature, affix dates or other details and even mark spots where signatures need to be affixed. We at YourStory caught up with Sunil to know more about the business idea behind EasySignMobile, the circumstances under which the app was developed and where it is heading.
We understand that you thought of the idea while holidaying in Mexico and executed it the next year while travelling through South America.
(laughs) That’s right. The idea came to me when I signed the offer letter for that startup job in summer 2009. I quit that job in February 2010 and started looking out for developers that I could work with, on this idea. I found one in Coimbatore through a friend. Now, this guy was from a small village near Coimbatore. But he was very bright. So, I trained him for a while, bought him a Mac and an iPod Touch. We worked over the internet as I was travelling through South America at that point of time. We launched version 1.0 of EasySignMobile in July 2010 and the response was great. We even got into the Featured section of the App Store.
You’re an award-winning iOS developer yourself. Tell us about your background.
Yes. In July 2008, Apple released the iOS SDK and in September, they had their first iOS DevCamp. A bunch of friends and I made an app called “Taxi” which won the Most Useful App award. And with respect to my background, I hold a Master's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University in USA and a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communications from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. Prior to EasySignMobile, I have worked with Tokbox on their web-based video chatting software and at Microsoft and Juniper Networks developing a wide variety of enterprise software.
So, tell us about the response that EasySignMobile has received. Also, how much does the app cost?
Firstly, we’re looking at EasySignMobile as a product, not an app. It’s a simple mobile signature solution that will eventually work across platforms. We are working furiously on the Android version. We understand that touch is a very essential part of the experience. But we’re finding ways to work around it. For instance, on a Blackberry, you can import the signature as a picture and it’s secured through a PIN, not unlike an ATM.We’ve been seeing some very good numbers on EasySignMobile. From December 2010 to sometime back in 2011, the number of signatures affixed using EasySignMobile have quadrupled. We’re now seeing thousands of signatures being done every month.
The app, in itself, is free. Users get three free signatures, after which they have to pay a dollar for signing three documents. For $14, they can sign unlimited number of documents. We’re looking at a number of feature upgrades soon. There’s automatic fax integration, auto-archive, referrals, etc.
How big is the team behind EasySignMobile? Are you profitable?
Yes, we are profitable. We are three guys working on it, full time. We also have an advisor, who works with IMDb, an Amazon website. We also have 2-3 part-time developers and plans are afoot to hire/partners with the right developer teams.
The App Store has hundreds of apps. How are you dealing the problem of app discovery?
For a small company like us, app discovery is very, very tough. We’re reaching out to influencers in various sectors like realty, IT services (procurement and purchase), education, etc. and reaching out through Twitter and a strong word-of-mouth buzz. These are some of the sectors which, we believe, can really benefit from EasySignMobile. We’re also getting on to major travel and productivity blogs. AOL’s online travel platform has featured us and so has Engadget.
The product’s about a year old now. What are your customers saying and what are the use cases that you’re looking at?
We pay a lot of attention to what our customers say. In fact, a lot of features that we work on are based on their feedback. One customer had asked for check boxes and within 3-4 days, we had that out. When our iPad app was released, we invited our top users to try it out as beta testers. A company in Australia is using it for signing insurance papers/damage clause forms. Realty guys and freelance web developers are using it the most.
In fact, a friend at Nexus Ventures (US) told me about an entrepreneur who used EasySignMobile to sign a term sheet. And it’s a big high when people use it for such important things.
According to you, what’s the total available market for EasySignMobile? Also, are you looking at funding?
Well, if we employ a top-down approach, there have been over 100 million e-signatures so far with over 20 million “signers”. By 2015, we’re looking at 650 million mobile workers and 30% of them are going to buy a tablet. We understand that all of them may not want to sign documents on the go. But 5% - 10% of them may want to and even that’s pretty big. Apart from the consumer end, there are the small businesses, which is another huge market.
And we do want to look at angel funding. But we’re being careful. Everyone wants million-dollar exits. The mobile space looks awesome now. But we need to see whether people will be comfortable signing documents on the phone. In the US, the e-Signature Act of 2000 ensures that it’s legal. India’s still unclear in terms of the legal aspect. But it’s not a market that we’re looking at, currently.
You have an Android version coming out soon. How are you dealing with platform fragmentation?
It’s inevitable, really. We have to deal with platform fragmentation. Android’s huge. There’s no “if we should” now, when it comes to Android. It’s only a “when should we”. Currently, we’re doing native apps because you can integrate stuff tightly. But with HTML5 and Flash, we might have to go for a hybrid approach.
We at YourStory wish Sunil and the EasySignMobile team much success. To know more about this mobile signature solution, check outhttp://easysignmobile.com/. Also, do write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your views on this story.
Sriram Mohan | YourStory | 4th July 2011 | Bangalore
Want to make your startup journey smooth? YS Education brings a comprehensive Funding Course, where you also get a chance to pitch your business plan to top investors. Click here to know more.