Rewind to 2009. Picture a beach in Mexico. Sunil Patro, a Purdue University alumnus working at Eyecon Technologies was on a vacation. Basking in the sun, Sunil got an email which he needed to respond to. It was not a time when he was in a mood to look around for a printer and a fax but the circumstance necessitated him to do. After a few hassles he managed to find one, but the problem got him thinking. He thought how convenient it would be if one could sign and send the documents straight from the phone. This experience gave birth to the idea of creating a simple, document signing app that would enable people to sign important documents on the go. This app is now known as SignEasy. Ever since the launch in 2010, SignEasy has weathered many storms but is now in a formidable position to make an impact in the $700 million Digital Transaction Management industry. We get in a conversation with Sunil to learn more about this bootstrapped, profitable and global company.
YS: SignEasy has had an interesting journey. Can you tell us about some of the most crucial points from the last five years that helped you thrive?
SP: In the early years of SignEasy’s journey, bootstrapping from India forced us to monetize the product sooner and with the cost arbitrage we benefit from,while selling a product in India priced for US market, it allowed us to focus on the product though innovation and deliver a compelling and user-friendly solution to a problem widely faced by people across the world.
Focusing on the niche user segment, who are mobile in their line of industries such as real estate, field force, service professionals, accountants and logistics personnel, to name a few, helped us put all efforts in building a simple, easy-to-use and frictionless product and gain market leadership in that segment and get recognition from the platforms like Apple and partners such as Dropbox and Box etc through special features on their App Stores.
Going upstream to serve professionals and small to medium businesses was a key. We did this by adding more functionality to our mobile apps with razor focus on customer feedback and our long term vision. This let us increase our price point for the core subscription offerings, thus maintaining the profitability and growth at the same time.
YS: The digital transaction space is now coming under a lot of light, can you talk a bit about the evolution? Where we were with digital signs, where we are, where are we heading?
SP: The electronic signature industry is a part of the rapidly growing $700 million Digital Transaction Management industry which expected to be $30 billion by 2020. The electronic signature industry as a whole claims processing well over 1.5 billion documents annually at this point. The fact that there are around 28 million small businesses in US alone, with 22 million among them being self-employed and as more and more SMBs and enterprises start thinking about carbon footprints and reducing paper usage, the buzz around eSignatures and cloud storage will only grow.
Cloud computing and storage is already mainstream in US where more than half of the US businesses now use cloud based workflows. The eSignature laws were enacted long back due to which significant number of businesses are going paperless. Hence adoption of SignEasy is an order of magnitude larger compared to India.
India is evolving with smartphone penetration and rapid growth of internet connectivity. The policymakers and lawmakers in India have begun to put frameworks with initiatives like Digital India and Open APIs which will regularize and facilitate other forms of digital signatures, including eSignatures.
YS: What is SignEasy up to at the moment?
SP: The last couple of months have been pretty exciting for us. Starting with release of SignEasy iOS Extension to make signing paperwork a breeze from hundreds of apps including Apple’s Mail App, Box, Camscanner, Cloudmagic, Dropbox, GeniusScan, Mailbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Scannable, Slack. This was followed by rolling out our updated Android app which provides an improved signing experience on your Android devices. Then came the treat, Apple featured us in their iPad campaign “Everything Changes with iPad”, as a part of the ‘Small Business Collection’ along with other great apps such as Square, Scannable, Quickbooks, OmniFocus2 and Numbers. We are proud to mention that we were the only Indian product/startup to be featured and were the only bootstrapped entity among other giants featured in this campaign. As I type this, we are set to launch SignEasy for web, thus positioning itself as a viable, easy-to-use and powerful alternative to the enterprise oriented document signing experience on the web. With this new web app, users can sign documents on their computers as well. This enables SMBs to be more flexible with their employees and customers, who now have one more avenue to choose from while signing.
And of course, our 5th birthday is just round the corner!
YS: What is your revenue model? How are you placed in terms of funding?
SP: SignEasy has a freemium model where the first 3 signatures are free. User can upgrade to one of three paid plans: Pay As You Go, Pro and Business subscription for unlimited document signing and other business-friendly features. The company has been bootstrapped since 2010 and has grown profitably for last 3 years.
YS: What is the team size and how is it structured?
SP: The team is about 20 odd people, primarily consisting of product manager, designers and engineers, marketers and support roles.
YS: Thoughts on DocuSign and competition landscape.
SP: SignEasy is a mobile-first solution, making it far and above the best, easier, simpler and powerful solution in the eSignature industry for prosumer and SMB market. Soon, we are launching
a web based solution that complements our mobile product and gives our customers flexibility to choose any platform they prefer to work on. SignEasy is leaps ahead from other apps on localization and internationalization, i.e. 15 languages worldwide, customized date and region formats and more. We also have more affordable and flexible pricing than our competitors in the industry.
YS: I believe US is the biggest market right now? How does the future look?
SP: We get more than half of the customers and revenue from US with the rest primarily spread out in Europe and Asia and few customers in South America. With the mobile-first internet trends happening in South-East Asia and other emerging markets, we expect eSignature adoption will pick up faster with proper laws, regulations and user awareness in place.